"Wicked rather than virtuous out of conformity..."

I sometimes contemplate what became of the belongings of my ancestors, particularly those who left no children. Not having many family heirlooms of my own, I still have acquired a good many old things that must have belonged to someone before me. What stories could they tell? Would this vase or that knickknack have a special resonance for someone else?

Recently I discovered an object online that was once owned by one of my family, a brass railway lantern that had belonged to Charles Henry Cherry (7 Jun 1837 - 16 Mar 1908). He was the youngest brother of one of my maternal third great-grandmothers, Mary Ann Cherry (17 Dec 1813 - 11 Nov 1853). Charles was a railway conductor for many years, but after a number of accidents that damaged his health he worked as a railway postal clerk. His lantern came up for auction, and sold for $1900.

The engraving on the glass globe reads:
C. H. Cherry
Local Mail Agent.
The leather strap is embossed "U. S. Mail."

I wonder what the appeal was for the winning bidder. Perhaps he or she collects railroad memorabilia, or just thought it pretty. It's nice to think that possibly they are another Cherry descendant.... Anyhow, it is reassuring to know that some things last, and I do hope the new owner is getting at least $1900 worth of enjoyment out of it. (Although I must add that it would look spectacular in my living room....)

It was one of those happy bloggish coincidences that this stray objet was formerly in the possession of the Cherrys rather than any of my other forbears, because the Cherry clan had been on my mind lately, and the subject of a recent post here. That time I wrote about the virtuous and upstanding Samuel Alonzo Cherry, a church deacon and underground railroad conductor; this post's subject is someone about whom there is a lot of aestheticism, a bit of mystery, and more than a whiff of scandal: Margaret Guthrie Cherry (Apr 1865 - 1 Feb 1935), Charles Henry Cherry's only child (and so Samuel Alonzo's niece).

Her obituary, as it ran in The Lethbridge [Alberta] Herald, 2 Feb 1935, seems laudatory enough:

Miss Cherry Is Called By Death
Interesting figure Dies in Local Hospital—Graduate Oberlin College
The death occurred in a local hospital Friday about midnight of Miss Margaret Guthrie “Dasie” Cherry, 73 years. For 20 years or more Miss Cherry had been an interesting figure in the life of Southern Alberta, being a large farm property owner and shrewd business woman. At the time of her death she was interested in property in the Chin district but last spring she sold a large sheep ranch north of Jamieson. The body is at Martin Brothers’ mortuary awaiting advice from relatives in Marysville, Ohio, old home of the deceased. George E. A. Rice of Shepherd, Dunlop and Rice, solicitor for Miss Cherry, is handling her affairs here.
Miss Cherry was born in Ohio, her family being well connected and prominent in that state for generations. She herself was a graduate of Oberlin College and was of an artistic and cultured nature, and among her friends she was a charming and versatile conversationalist. She was a keen lover and excellent judge of painting and handicraft and had judged at many national shows including the Chicago World’s Fair many years ago. Twice she circled the globe as an employee of the United States government, her mission being in connection with handicrafts and their development.
An enthusiastic lover of all animals, Miss Cherry was especially devoted to horses. She knew the fine points of a horse, being one of the best judges of horses in the country. She is survived by an uncle, J. C. Guthrie, and a cousin, Dwight Guthrie Scott, both of Marysville, Ohio. The funeral will likely be here  on Monday but this is not definite.
Miss Cherry was born in Ohio, and although nice as it would be to think, it is a stretch to say that Dasie's family was especially well-connected or prominent, and certainly not "for generations," unless you allow some artistic license, which she would probably appreciate. The Cherry family did not even move to Ohio until after her own father's birth. Her mother, Sarah Jane Guthrie (Sep 1841 - aft 1915), was born in Ohio at least, shortly after her family came to Ohio from Chester County, Pennsylvania; grandpa Guthrie was a farmer. Sarah Jane's older sister, Harriet B Guthrie (Oct 1848 - 5 Nov 1919) did marry Orlando McLean Scott (May 1837 - 1923) in 1871, three years after he founded what would become Scotts Miracle-Gro (Scott also held a patent for a device to "exhibit or hold whips"), so there was a sort-of prominence by proxy, I suppose. Harriet and Orlando's son Dwight Guthrie Scott (11 Dec 1875 - 28 Jul 1966) is the cousin referred to above. According to the useful timeline on the Scott Miracle-Gro website,

Until the early 1900s, any seed scattered on the home lawn was usually the sweepings from the haymow, weed seeds and all. In 1907, O.M.'s elder son, Dwight, saw the role which lawns should play in the American way of life, and Scotts began offering grass seed by mail.

So now we know whom we have to thank.
From Little Shop of Horrors, 1986.

Alas, I seemed to have divigated even more than usual. To keep off the grass, so to speak, and attempt a return to the apparently inescapable vegetative theme with the doubly-botanically named Miss Dasie Cherry.... Yes, she called herself "Dasie," a creative spin on the conventional "Daisy," itself a riff on the frenchified version of her true given name; an early manifestation of her artsy nature?

Her obituary states that she attended Oberlin College. I have not been able to verify this or learn what she studied, but it is not surprising. Oberlin seems a good fit for Dasie, both in its liberal arts offerings (and liberality in general) as well as its proximity to the Cherry home. By this time they had moved from Marysville to nearby Newark, Ohio.

In the 30 Dec 1884 edition of the Newark Daily Advocate, Daisy [sic] and a Maggie Burke performed the traditional Irish song Bundle and Go at a "Grand Musical and Literary Entertainment" at the local Music Hall. On 3 Feb 1893, the Daily Advocate reviewed another performance at the Music Hall, this one a bit more spectacular.


It was the last reference to music I have found in Dasie's career.

Her artistic nature next surfaced in February 1898, when she was one of the founding members of the Newark Camera Club, serving as its inaugural Vice President.


By Ema Spencer, from Brush and Pencil, Vol 3, Number 2, Nov 1898.
Courtesy of JSTOR.

The organization itself was quite prestigious, and early members and exhibitors included Edward Weston and Edward Steichen, among others, although even one hundred years ago, in those far-off pre-Internet days, it seems people still couldn't get enough pictures of wacky cats.


(ibid)

The Club's members exhibited at the Chicago Photographic Salon of 1900, held under the joint management of the Chicago Society of Amateur Photographers and the Art Institute of Chicago; the Jury of Selection included Alfred Stieglitz, who also exhibited. Dasie was represented by "Portrait of Miss C." Was this perhaps a self-portrait? In a review of the exhibit in the May 1900 issue of Photo-Era magazine, Henry G Abbott wrote

Dasie G. Cherry of Newark, Ohio, was represented by a single portrait, the value of which was very questionable and which was marred by the presence of a window.

In Dasie's defense, elsewhere in the article, Mr Abbott critiqued a "picture, if picture you can call it," taken by "Edward J. Steicher [sic]."  A year later, Mr Abbott cannot let it go; in his review of the following year's exhibit, which appeared in Western Camera Notes, Nov 1901, he recaps:

In the first salon there was a very large sprinkling of notable pictures.... There were night-mares too; such things as "Frost on the Pool" by E. J. Steichen; "Portrait of Miss C.," by Dasie G. Cherry....

At least by then he had Steichen's name right. Ema Spencer was a bit more kind in Camera Craft, in an article published in the Jul 1901 issue:

Miss Dasie G. Cherry had a picture, "Portrait of Miss C," in the Chicago Salon of 1900, the success the repetition of which a waning interest has prevented.

It might be noted, however, that Ema Spencer was--like Dasie--one of co-founders of the Newark Camera Club. The  club also showed their works  closer to home, of course. Dasie never seemed to have more than one picture on display, unlike her more prolific peers. 
From the catalogue
Exhibit of Photographs by the Newark Camera Club,
 Association Building, Newark, Ohio
 November 28, 29, 30, December 1, 1900

Was her taste so refined that she could deem only one exemplar of her Art as worthy, or was it always someone else's decision? At any rate, whether due to that "waning lack of interest" or merely bad reviews, Dasie soon seemed to have moved away from photography, and into handicrafts, if her obituary is to be believed. No other reference or records to Dasie's round-the-world government-sponsored crafting have turned up in her otherwise well-documented life. I expect embroidery may also have been one of Dasie's many talents....

By 1902, however, she had other things on her mind, although her name continued to appear in print.

From the Newark Advocate, 26 Apr 1905.

According to Mrs Bloomer's suit, Dasie had been carrying on for some time with Mr Bloomer, who, among other things was twenty years Dasie's senior, and like her father was a railroad man. From the Ohio Law Bulletin, Vol 53:

The questions are: did the defendant, Margaret G. Cherry, solicit the affections of the plaintiff's husband; did she, by her conduct towards him, and by the practice of the arts and wiles used only by designing women, cause the plaintiff's husband to transfer his affections from his wife to the defendant, Margaret G. Cherry; and did the other defendants, or either of them, encourage or assist her, or connive with her, in so doing, purposefully and maliciously?

The suit was finally settled in Sep 1907, favoring the Cherrys, which I find remarkable in that Dasie was simultaneously involved in another, parallel suit. She took Dr Theodore W Rankin to court to replevin--a word so recondite even I had to look it up, but seems to be just legal jargon for "reclaim"-- a diamond ring she said was meant for her from the late Mr Bloomer, along with one hundred dollars in damages! She won that case too; "shrewd business woman" indeed. But is it any coincidence that Dasie's father was dead just a few months later, or that shortly after this, she left her family home of "generations" and emigrated to Canada? 

Poseuse and seductress, equestrienne and land mogul (it is hard not to want to use French when writing about Dasie; I feel she would appreciate it)... or just an artsy, brainy gal ahead of her time? We'll probably never find out. If nothing else, she certainly seems to have been a complicated woman. It is a shame that despite prominence and wealth, her relatives back home decided to have Dasie buried in an unmarked grave in Canada. She is gone, but not forgotten. At least by me.

Flowers at her otherwise unmarked grave.
Mountain View Cemetery,
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Photo courtesy of a Findagrave.com member. Thanks!

I would be curious to find out what happened to Dasie's estate; did it go to the Scotts Miracle-Gro heir, the state, charity? More than that, I would love to see a portrait of "this interesting figure," or perhaps better still, one of her own artistic "Portraits." Who knows--perhaps one will come up for auction some day.

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