- Who is Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell? The question has been easier asked than answered by local historians for years.
William Klaber, author of The Rebellions of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, found the story of Lobdell after meeting with Wayne COunty Historical Society member Jack Niflot.
"He told me to hurry up and finish (the book) because he wanted to be alive when it came out," Klaber said. Niflot had done research on the life of Lobdell for years and "a dozen years ago thought I was the one to write the story." Niflot passed away only four days prior to the book being released.
Why read about Lucy?
Klaber said that what really drew him to Lobdell was "just how unusual her protest was. The whole system was rigged against women, and very slowly did they protest and win the right to vote. Lucy said to heck with that and wore mens clothes." He continued to say that Lobdell "was brave, smart and naive."
Another aspect about Lobdell is her struggle for women's rights before there were any.
"I think people, women and men have forgotten how the check was against women. Women have come a long way, even in my lifetime."
Klaber continues by saying, "In the 50s, a woman could be a telephone operator or school teacher. There have been huge changes since then. In Lucy's time, a woman couldn't work, get paid or own property. Sometimes people forget the distance that people have come over such a short a time."
Another fun aspect of the book is that the characters Lobdell meets along the way are based off of real people and events.
"A lot of the things that happen in the book really did happen. Honesdale was an important town and a hot bed of political activity. Politically, it was quite a place back then," Kleber said.
About Lucy Ann Lobdell
The story of Lobdell is one of intrigue and fascination. Lobdell was born in Long Eddy, N.Y. in 1829 to a lumberman and his wife. In her obituary, dated July 2, 1885, it was said that Lobdell was noted for her skill with a rifle as young as age 10. "She killed a panther, after following it 10 miles through the woods, when she was 12 years old," it states.
Page 2 of 3 - At the age of 18, Lobdell married raftman George Slater and gave birth to a daughter, Mary. Slater then "deserted her and her two-months old baby a year afterward."
After her parents were unable to give her a home, she left her daughter in their care and began an adventure of her own. She would never see her daughter again.
Lobdell left upstate New York and traveled to Bethany, Penn., disguised as a man named Joseph I. Lobdell. Lobdell opened a singing school and was so convincing as a man that she became engaged in 1855 to the daughter of a leading citizen in Bethany.
After a rival music teacher discovered her true identity, he planned with others to "tar and feather her and drive her out of town." Lobdell's fiance warned her and she escaped back to Long Eddy and began dressing as a woman.
After not being able to find work, she began dressing as a man again in a hunting suit. For eight years, she lived in the woods of the Delaware River valley and recorded much of her adventures.
In her own words, she said she "killed 163 deer, 73 bears, one panther, and numberless amounts of small game of the glade and fur bearers of the stream and lake." Lobdell then entered a local poorhouse.
In 1868, 19-year-old Marie Louise Perry ran away from her native Massachusetts and married a man named James Wilson. Perry was a university graduate and the daughter of a well-to- do family. Perry was struck ill with fever and was admitted to a poorhouse.
While in the poorhouse, Perry made a full recovery and became friends with Lobdell. Perry then formed a bond with Lobdell that was "so strong they refused to be separated."
Lobdell assumed the name of Joseph Israel Lobdell once again and court records showed that "Lobdell had been married by a Wayne County justice of the peace to Marie Louise Perry," days after they ran from the poorhouse.
The conclusion of Lobdell's story can be found in pages of The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, and is currently available for purchase at Maude Alley in Honesdale. It can also be found on Amazon.com, B&N.com, at Hudson News and in all United States airports.
Page 3 of 3 - Klaber says that the story of Lobdell is a must read for many reasons both historical and recreational. "It's an awful lot of fun to read a story that takes place in Honesdale in 1855. You have newspaper editors, real guys, who were at each others throat." Klaber continued on to say, "I would say that especially for people in Honesdale, the historical nature of the book and walking down those streets and seeing the town as it was in 1855," is enthralling on its own.