Monday, January 25, 2016

Edith de Garis (ca. 1874-1950)

Née Edith Wild
Journalist, Author, Teacher
Born March 29, 1874 (?), Waterford, New York
Died July 13, 1950, Albany, New York

The authors and artists who contributed to Weird Tales came from all walks of life and lived in earth's every quarter. Their lives and experiences were varied beyond description. They of course included men who went to war, in the Great War, before the magazine was founded, and afterwards in the Second World War and the Korean War. One teller of weird tales was even kept as a Japanese prisoner of war. Surprisingly that POW was a woman.

Edith Meeker de Garis, born Edith Wild on March 29 in or about 1874, in Waterford, New York, was the second wife of Frederic de Garis of Tacoma, Washington, later of Patchogue, Long Island. (1) Frederick de Garis' first wife was Isabel Carman (1855-1903), whom he married on November 11, 1891, in Patchogue. She died a dozen years later on her forty-eighth birthday. I don't know the date or place of Frederic de Garis' marriage to Edith Wild, but by 1922, she had taken his name and was living in Japan, having first arrived in the archipelago in 1917. Then or later, she wrote for the Japan Advertiser and the Japan Times.

Edith de Garis visited Patchogue in early 1922. Her husband was then still in Japan where he served as "director of publicity and editor of the English edition of the guide books of the Japanese Government Railway." (2) Over the course of his career in Japan, de Garis wrote Their Japan with Gaines Sensai (1936) and We Japanese (volume one, 1934). He was also an inventor. Edith wrote a piece on Japanese astrology for her husband's book We Japanese. She also wrote a story for Weird Tales, "The Dragon Girl," published in the January 1932 issue of the magazine.

After Frederic de Garis died in 1935, Edith de Garis taught at Tsuda College, a women's college; Aoyama Gakuin; and St. Margaret's High School, an Episcopal school for girls located in Tokyo. Although she returned to the United States at least once before the war began, Edith was back in Japan by 1942. On September 16, 1942, she was taken prisoner by the Japanese government and confined to a prison facility within a Catholic orphanage. A source on the Internet states that Edith was held at Sekiguchi-Koishikawaku Civilian Camp near Tokyo for four years, but one or both of those pieces of information are in error, as she departed Japan for the United States on September 14, 1943. You can read about her internment in a newspaper article called "Aunt of Local Resident Arrives on 'Gripsholm' from Japan: Mrs. Edith deGaris [sic] Tells of Experiences While Interned in East" in the Mill Brook Round Table (New York), December 17, 1943, page 1, here.

Edith Wild de Garis lived another six and a half years after being freed. She died on July 13, 1950, at Child's Hospital in Albany, New York.

(1) One source claims that Frederic de Garis was a pseudonym for Shozo Yamaguchi, but that claim is in doubt. On the other hand, de Garis is hard to find in public records and I have almost nothing about him. I hope someone can help clear up the confusion.
(2) In "Notes from the Advance Files, 35 Years Ago, March 31, 1922," Patchogue Advance, Mar. 28, 1957.

Edith de Garis' Story in Weird Tales
"The Dragon Girl" (Jan. 1932)

Further Reading
The obituary of Edith de Garis, "Former Prisoner of Japan During War Succumbs in Albany," was in the Troy, New York, Times Record on July 14, 1950, page 12.

Text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

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