Monday, October 28, 2013
The Mystery of the Headless Woman
This a true story. People that know me well know that I have been an avid genealogist/family historian for many many years. My search for tidbits of data on the various family lines has possessed a great deal of my spare time. I have dug deep into old history books, interviewed family members and pestered relatives for old photos.
I have discovered relatives that served in most military conflicts since this country's infancy. The research allowed me to join the Sons of the American Revolution and The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Three great great grandfathers served in the War of the Rebellion (Civil War). My ancestor William Washburn bought Oyster Bay, New York from its Native American owners and that deed is on display in the Teddy Roosevelt Museum there. I can prove a connection to at least five people that journeyed to this foreign land on The Mayflower. I have traced family lines on my mother's side back to the early 1600s in England. Family lines take me back to Charlemagne, King Kunetta of Wales and William the Conqueror. I find the Reed Family living in Vermont before the Revolution. But there's one mystery I have yet to solve – The Mystery of the Headless Woman with the Fluffy Cat.
I found this tin-type photo in a family album from the turn of the 20th century about 20 years ago. I never thought much about it until now. The mystery came back to haunt me this week when I had a visit from a distant cousin who also has a great interest in family history. Her great grandfather and my great grandmother were brother and sister. So, we are cousins several times removed. We spent the day comparing data, scanning photos and telling stories that had been passed on to us from our families. The time flew by and near the end of the day she pulled out a couple of old photo albums and asked if I knew any of the people who were not identified. There she was in the last leaf of the final album – that mystery woman with the fluffy cat. Neither one of use can figure out why these two families would have this photo. She must have been someone important enough or at least the cat was. We will probably never know and are left with these questions:
Was it someone that didn't like how her photo turned out and just grabbed a pair of tin snips and cut the head off? Was she a former concubine or consort that was no longer important to this family?
Was she someone these families despised and could not stand the sight of? Who was she? She's certainly not the wife of the headless Hessian soldier detailed by Washington Irving in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Although our Washburn family did come from Tarrytown NY to Otsego County about that time.