Sunday, January 11, 2015

Instead of Going to School, 10-year-old Raleigh Girl Takes Train to Winston-Salem, 1906

“A Truant Little Tot,” from The Semi-Weekly Messenger, Wilmington, published January 9, 1906. Little Lucy was returned to her aunt’s home in Raleigh, but I wonder if she ever say her parents again.

A 10-year-old Girl Runs Away from Raleigh and Lands in Winston
When the train from Raleigh arrived here yesterday afternoon at 2:45, a pretty little girl 10 years old, brunette type, and bearing as her only baggage a school satchel full of books, stepped off the train and in a diffident, hesitating way asked if any one could tell her where her mother lived. When asked her name and where she was from, she replied: “My name is Lucy Reaves and I come from Raleigh.”

Then, as if she had just remembered it, she said, “No my aunt’s name is Reaves, my name is Lucy Beidler, and mama lives here. She used to live in Virginia when I went to my aunt’s to live. But she moved here, and I got a letter from her after she moved here, and I have come to see her.”

No one could tell her where her mother lived, and she began to cry. Conductor Guthrie comforted her and carried her to the Phoenix Hotel lobby, where she was soon the center of an intensely interest group of drummers and citizens.

Her story, as well as she could be induced to tell it between sobs, is as follows. She has been living with her aunt, a Mrs. Reaves at Raleigh and was a pupil at the Wiley school. She has lived with her aunt since 1901. The name of her parents is Biedler. They lived in Culpeper, Va., in 1901, when they sent her to live with her aunt at Raleigh. She has not seen her mother since, but received a letter from this city saying that she had moved her, was staying in a millinery store and had 150 hens and was getting a lot of eggs. It was about a year ago when she received the letter. Her father, she said, was a farmer before she left home at Culpepper, Va.

When asked how she came to leave her aunt, she said, “I wanted to see my mother. I had saved up some Christmas money and my aunt had given me some, and I just made up my mind to come. I asked and somebody told me how to come. I went to the depot and asked how much was the ticket to Winston and the man told me $1.80. I had one dollar and eighty-five cents, so I brought the ticket and got on the train.” She had just five cents when she reached the city.

When asked about changing cars at Greensboro, she said a nice old gentleman talked to her on the train from Raleigh and told her how to do when she got to Greensboro.

No family by the name of Biedler is known in either Winston or Salem or in the suburbs.

The little runaway lady is quite pretty, with dark hair and eyes, and very intelligent. Her clothing was neat and warm. She wore a cloak and little toboggan cap and nice shoes and stockings. She was evidently being well cared for.

The books in her satchel bore the name Lucy Reaves and the date 1904. She had evidently started to schools when she made up her mind to come to Winston-Salem. She brought nothing but her little self, the satchel of books and a nickel.
                --Winston Journal

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