Family:Whitney, Imogene (1862-1913)

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Imogene8 Whitney (Joseph H.7, Stephen6, Stephen5, Isaac4, Nathaniel3, Benjamin2, John1), daughter of Joseph H.7 and Hannah Caswell (Montfort) Whitney, was born 19 Dec 1862, South Meriden, CT, and died 21 Oct 1913, Newington, CT.

She married, 4 Sep 1895, New Britain, CT, Raymond Howard Willoughby, son of William Augustus and Nancy (Royce) Willoughby. He was born 1859, CT, and died 1923, Hartford, CT. He was buried in Newington, CT.

Willoughby says:

"Imogene (sometimes Emmagene) Whitney (1862-1913) was the mother of Raymond Royce Willoughby and therefore heads the list of his maternal forebears. She was born December 19, 1862, in South Meriden, Connecticut (South Meriden Vital Records*). Her only sister (Ella) was ten years her senior, and her only living brother (Edwin) eight years her senior. Imogene was probably a rather lonely child, for it is known that to amuse herself she devised solitary games with meager materials; an anecdote surviving from this period relates that she liked to make doll teakettles, cups, and so on, from salmon vertebrae. Her early life is not known with any certainty because she did not talk about it, and the natural assumption has always been that her childhood was not a happy one. When Imogene was not quite seven years old, her sister married and left to make her home in New Haven, Connecticut. The brother left home shortly thereafter in order to get work.
"When Imogene was nine years old, her mother died. Some time after that the child was sent to Maine, where she lived for several years at the farm of her mother's brother; this farm was situated on the Androscoggin River near Lewiston, some seven miles south of the town itself. The head of the household was a bluff, powerful, happy patriarch; his wife was gentle and quiet, and efficient in fulfilling the many important functions of a farm wife. There were about ten children in the home, together with a hired man or two. The economy was virtually a self-supporting one. The tasks of haying, planting, harvesting, preparing the winter's supply of meat, and cutting the great amounts of wood needed during the long, hard winters—these chores were participated in by all. The baking of the beans in the huge Dutch oven every Saturday evening was like a ritual. Imogene lived in this sort of atmosphere until she was about eighteen, probably first attending rural schools near Lewiston and then spending the last two or three years of her Maine period in Mechanic Falls, going to high school there during the school year and probably returning to the farm during the summers, when everyone was needed there.
"This period in Imogene's life came to an end when she graduated from high school at about the age of eighteen. She then went to live with her sister's family in New Haven, staying there for most of the next thirteen years. During at least part of this time she was employed as a bookkeeper in the laundry which was operated by her brother-in-law (New Haven Directory). Imogene was comfortable, both materially and physically, during this time of her life. She acquired what she later said were "nice clothes", she managed to save about $1,000, and she was able to assume at least part of the financial responsibility for her father, who was by then becoming increasingly non-productive.
"When she was about 31 years old, Imogene Whitney met and fell in love with Raymond Howard Willoughby, who was then working in New Haven. A short time later he secured a job as foreman in a New Britain factory and a job as a press-hand for her under his supervision. She moved to New Britain, where the two were married on September 4, 1895 (Whitney Family Bible), when Imogene was 33. Their only child was Raymond Royce Willoughby.
"Imogene's husband planned and built a home for himself and his small family on Elm Hill in Newington, a suburb of New Britain, starting construction in the spring of 1900. Imogene assisted financially with the purchase of the land, and her husband did the actual work on the building during his hours off from his regular job. They moved into the house in 1906 although it was not yet finished; indeed, it never was completely finished. The family lived in only part of the house. Imogene had to make the most of the unfinished state of the structure. It meant taking out all of the sink water in pails, having no heat except hy means of the kitchen range, and having water in the cellar all winter. In addition, she occasionally helped, by request, in such tasks as emptying buckets of crushed rock from the well. Some of this physical work must have been difficult for a woman who was only 5'2" in height and who weighed only 120 pounds at her peak.
"At the age of 39 years Imogene experienced the first deep grief of her adulthood. Her sister, to whom she had become deeply attached, died on January 2, 1901, in a New Haven hospital while undergoing surgery for a carcinoma. This loss left a lasting impression on the surviving sister.
"Only a few years later Imogene, too, developed a cancer. In 1910 she had her first operation for the removal of a breast. In the spring of 1912 it was discovered that there had been a recurrence, whereupon she had her second operation. In 1913 it was found that an ovarian tumor of many years' standing had become malignant; a third operation was necessary. After that nothing more could be done, for the cancer had invaded the lymphatic system of the body. Imogene had to take to her bed in that summer, and her son carried her downstairs each morning and upstairs each evening until she could no longer tolerate even that much exertion. After months of great pain she died on October 21, 1913, of what the doctor called gastric sarcoma. She was buried two days later in Newington Cemetery. After her death it was found that somehow she had saved and set aside enough money for her own burial expenses.
"Imogene Whitney Willoughby's son once said while speaking of her that she was a spiritual waif all her life, a village child transplanted to the farm and, her adjustments having been made there, transplanted back to the town and a noisy factory room for ten hours a day. Between the time of her mother's death and that of her own marriage she was parked with one relative after another, never having a home which was really her own. Then when she did fall in love and get married, her husband turned out to be a sadly serious man who was sometimes moody and occasionally even difficult, despite always meaning well and having the best intentions. Indeed, the loneliness of Imogene's childhood seems to have dogged her life even unto its early end."

Children of Raymond Howard and Imogene9 (Whitney) Willoughby:

i. Raymond Royce Willoughby, b. 20 Apr 1896, New Haven, CT; d. 3 Oct 1944, Providence, RI; m. bef. 1930, Miranda G. Goodrie.

Census

  • 1870, she is called "Emma J. Whitney".
  • 1880: not found.
  • 1900, 581 East Main Street, New Britain Ward 6, Hartford Co., CT:

9 12 Willoughby, Raymond Head W M Dec 1859 41 mar 5 Conn. Conn. Conn. Tool maker, Rents house -----, Emma Wife W F Dec 1863 37 mar 5 2ch 2liv Conn. Maine Maine -----, Raymond Son W M Apr 1896 4 sgl Conn. Conn. Conn.

  • 1910, she is called "Emmajean Willoughby"

References

  • Census records.

Copyright © 2020, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group.

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