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Part 7: Early this summer, I happened upon the tale of a little foundling left at a Minneapolis confectionery in 1909. The woman behind the counter, Mary Sanford, had been longing for a child, and she and her husband, a real estate man, welcomed the happy infant into their home. The feel-good story extended to the neighborhood and beyond, thanks to the Minneapolis Tribune, which published stories and photos about the foundling nearly every day for two weeks: Tribuna is wrapped in loving arms, Tribuna is a thriving tot; Tribuna is showered with gifts.
I posted the first few pieces without knowing how the story would unfold. I hoped Tribuna would continue to thrive and enjoy a happy childhood. I hoped she would grow up to be a fine woman with children of her own. I hoped to track down her descendants and talk with them about how their great-grandmother got her start in life. I hoped to give you a happy ending. Instead, then as now, the ending is abrupt and heart-breaking.
[read part 1] | [read part 2] | [read part 3] | [read part 4] | [read part 5] | [read part 6]
The next day, the Tribune published a funeral announcement accompanied by the most recent photo of the little girl.
|A day before Tribuna died, a minister from Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Minneapolis visited the Sanford home and baptized the girl "in extremis," according to church records. This postcard of the church at 905 4th Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis is from about 1905. (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)|
In this, the Tribune’s final story on the little founding, Tribuna’s true given name, Evelyn – the name listed at the church where she was baptized and at the cemetery in which she is buried -- is mentioned for the first time:
Tribuna is buried in an unmarked grave in Crystal Lake Cemetery in north Minneapolis. She was laid to rest next to the Sanfords’ other child, Albert, who died in infancy on Aug. 22, 1908, nearly a year to the day after Tribuna was left in their care. His grave is also unmarked, which was common for infants of that era.
It's unclear what happened to the Sanfords after Tribuna's death. I can find no Minnesota death record for Mary (or Leah, as she was listed in Tribuna's baptismal record), but it appears the couple parted ways at some point, whether through death or divorce. Carlton sold off his family property in Faribault and headed to California, where it appears he married a woman named Alice. Carlton C. and Alice I. Sanford are buried at San Gabriel Cemetery in Los Angeles County. I will try to locate Carlton Sanford's descendants to see if I can confirm his move to California and perhaps find out what happened to Mary Sanford. Please let me know if you can help in that search.
The Minnesota State Fair has featured many unusual attractions since the first fair was held in Minneapolis in 1859: death-defying aerial acts, colliding locomotives, freak shows, live animal births, the Minnesota Iceman and premature babies in incubators. Wait … what? The Minneapolis Morning Tribune was there.
[Originally posted Sept. 9, 2009]
Midget 11 Inches in Length, One of Five Infants in Incubator
Five premature babies, “all of good birth,” as the lecturer assures his audiences, are already in the infant incubators of the state fair, and as a feature of universal human interest the incubator holds its own, for from the moment the doors of the cottage where the babies are housed opened to the public a goodly crowd of spectators has been maintained.
Eleven inches in length and weighing one and a half pounds sizes up the smallest infant, which is kept in the end incubator and gives the impression of a much larger creature, by reason of its wrappings. A large pink satin bow is tied conspicuously below its armpits, and matches with remarkable accuracy its tiny face and hands.
The children are fed by wet nurses by means of a tube. Special scales, special self-rocking baskets are among the newest scientific devices for saving the tots, and padded dressing tables make easy, for the nurses, the task of handling and clothing the under-sized babies. They are kept in high temperature and their baths, which are daily, are 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Gradually the temperature and feeding is brought to the normal.
|Flash mob: These resourceful lads found a way to get into a sideshow at the fair in about 1910. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
One day a year, copy editors still working at newspapers in 2013 should be allowed to write headlines like this. And reporters should be allowed to write sentences like the last one in this Minneapolis Tribune report.
|Robert Street on St. Paul's West Side in about 1900. The details are hard to make out at this resolution, but I can see three beer signs, a team of horses, a two-car trolley and some kind of parade or march on the right side of the street. Can anyone guess what might have been going on here? (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)|
Part 6 : Six weeks after Tribuna’s surgery, Mr. and Mrs. Sanford bundled her up for a Christmas gathering at her foster great-grandmother’s house on South Twelfth Street. How was her health? Readers were left to wonder.
[read part 1] | [read part 2] | [read part 3] | [read part 4] | [read part 5]
Babies Tribuna Sanford and Ousley to Have Merriest of Christmases.
Youngsters Who Found Homes Through the Tribune, Surrounded by Friends.
Two babies, to whom fortune at times has seemed rather hard, are enjoying their first Christmas today, and to them this is surely proving to be a happy Christmas.
Tribuna Sanford, who was abandoned on a doorstep, but who found a happy home through the assistance of The Tribune, goes with her parents to the home of her foster great-grandmother, Mrs. A.L. McLean, 59 Twelfth street south, where a Christmas reunion is to be held. Already she has many presents from her many friends, and is crowing in triumph over rattles and gay toys. She is having truly the time of her life, and is doing her best not to miss a single thing that happens in her first experience with Christmas.
Out on Girard avenue is another happy youngster. Baby Ousley, for whom The Tribune found a home when he was left in the overcrowded Jean Martin Brown home, has just recovered from a four weeks’ battle with pneumonia. Though he is thin and wan yet, his spirits are high and he gurgles jubilantly at a magnificent Christmas tree, with toys heaped all around it.
He is wearing a brilliant little ring set with turquoise and pearls, a token of affection from one of his numerous admirers, and tomorrow he goes to mass in a splendid new cutter, which is large enough to hold a dozen like him. He is 10 months old, and already he is beginning to understand talk a little.
To the earnest question put in hearty German that his parents use, “Wie gross bist du?” [How big are you?] he can answer with an energetic coo. Baby Ousley has everything his heart could desire, and there are few children that are half as happy as he seems to be.
| The Children’s Home Society opened the Jean Martin Brown Receiving Home for Children in 1903. The St. Paul orphanage at 2239 Commonwealth Av. was home to infants and older children waiting to be adopted. With the help of a Tribune reporter, a Minneapolis woman managed to apply for adoption, select Baby Ousley and cart him home from the orphanage in less than five hours -- just in time for her husband's birthday. It was quite a surprise for the old man! More on that story next week. (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)
Part 5 : In October, Tribuna Sanford’s 2-month birthday passed without celebration. The little foundling had been ill for a few weeks. The doctor blamed a change in diet. It seemed certain that the girl would recover soon.
[read part 1] | [read part 2] | [read part 3] | [read part 4]
Alas, a change in diet was not to blame. On Nov. 5, the Tribune reported this heart-breaking development:
Surgery circa 1915: A patient at St. Barnabas Hospital in Minneapolis is surrounded by doctors and nurses, most of whom appear to be observers, none of whom were wearing masks.
"The watchful crowd in the balcony," according to the caption accompanying the photo, "is most likely composed of hospital benefactors and community dignitaries. It was not uncommon for hospitals to perform exposition surgeries when the surgeon was famed for successfully completing a new or difficult procedure or when the surgical case was unusual. A portion of this photograph around the patient has been purposely obscured by the photographer, but judging by the small size of the leg being held by one of the attending physicians it is likely this operation is being performed on a child."
(Image courtesy of Metropolitan Medical Center Historical Library)
More to come ... Part 6: A happy Christmas.