Genuinely Julanay

When the young housewife and mother known to her neighbors as “Mrs. Robinson” died at Lovewell, Kansas, the only newspaper to carry her obituary was the Herald, printed at nearby Webber.

Died - May 17, 1894, Mrs. Robinson of cancer.  Her remains were interred in White Rock cemetery.  Mrs. Robinson gave evidence of her peace with God before her death and is now at rest with him.  She leaves a husband and four children together with a large number of friends to mourn her departure.

The item contained a few more details concerning the funeral service - the name of the officiating pastor, the verse from Romans that provided the text for his remarks, and the title of the hymn which had been “sweetly sung.”  But there was not one hint that the recently-deceased had been the long-lost daughter of the county’s most famous pioneer.

A suspicious observer might come to the conclusion that Thomas Lovewell’s eldest daughter was mourned and buried under a pseudonym, a fabricated identity designed to throw nosy researchers off the trail.

The name engraved on her headstone, “Julany Robinson,” is a surefire dead-end for genealogists.  There is no clear indication that she ever called herself “Mrs. Robinson,” despite the fact that she and John Robinson had a child together in 1887, and Robinson did live with her at Lovewell during the waning months of her life.  However, until a few weeks before her death, Edward McCaul, the man she had married in 1871 shortly after turning 14, continued to cling to life at the Missouri Pacific Railroad Hospital in St. Louis.  On his death certificate she is listed as his widow.  Family legend insists that it was Edward McCaul’s injury, suffered while working on the roof of the St. Louis Depot, that led her to launch a desperate search for her father, resulting in their reunion in the fall of 1893.

Not only does her identity as "Mrs. Robinson” seem suspect, but there was no evidence that Thomas’s daughter ever referred to herself as anything but “Julia,” the name which consistently appears on census returns, her certificate of marriage, even the publication notice announcing the sale of a restaurant she owned in Carbondale, Kansas, which she operated with her husband until 1884.  

Anyway, that was how things stood until a few days ago, when issues of the Carbondale Independent finally made their way to, and my search for information on the McCauls turned up something I never expected to see.

Carbondale, Kas., June 13, 1883

To whom it may concern:

You will take notice that a certain promissory note, of which the following is a copy:

“$100.  Carbondale, Kas., July 12, ’82.

One year after date we promise to pay to the order of Julanay McCaul One Hundred Dollars, at Carbondale, with interest at 12 per cent. per annum for value received.


Ernest Waetzig

  Arthur Waetzig”

Has been by me lost and any holder thereof is a holder without consideration.

Julanay McCaul

The 25-year-old woman had lost or misplaced a fairly significant sum, the equivalent of $2,500 today.  Notices  in successive issues of the Independent were evidently published as a legal technicality, opening the door for two Carbondale businessmen to pay the young lady the $112 they owed her, yet protecting themselves in case the missing note ever turned up.

While the writing on her headstone says “Julany,” in Gloria Lovewell’s 1979 book of family history her name is always rendered as “Julaney.”  Orel Jane Lovewell’s 1922 pension testimony identifies her stepdaughter as “Julana,” (which also happened to be the name of Orel Jane’s mother).  In letters to her cousins my own mother always called her “Juliana.”  Though in everyday life Thomas Lovewell’s eldest daughter usually went by “Julia,” when money was on the line and she felt compelled to use her legal, given name, it turned out to be none of the above.  

It may not have been the name she preferred, but she could take that one to the bank.

© Dale Switzer 2023