Wednesday, November 14, 2018

F. Georgia Stroup (1882-1952)

Teacher, Writer, Laborer
Born March 16, 1882, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri
Died November 14, 1952, presumably at East Moline State Hospital, East Moline, Illinois

I have found a Fannie Georgia Stroup and I hope that she is the same Fannie Georgia Stroup throughout the records that I have found. I'm pretty confident in most of this. It's the transition from California to Chicago (or Kansas to Chicago) that seems a little uncertain. But then there is a gravestone for her in Illinois. The name and birthdate on the stone fit the facts of Fannie's biography. Maybe sometimes things really are as simple as they seem.

Fannie Georgia Stroup was a writer, a teacher, and a teacher of teachers. She was born on March 16, 1882, in Liberty, Missouri, to George W. Stroup (1856-1886), a farmer, and Louisa D. "Lula" Stroup (1860-1932). Her parents married in about 1881 and had two daughters, Fannie being the elder, Anna May Stroup (1886-?) the younger. They all lived together in Osage Township, Miami County, Kansas, at the time of the Kansas State Census of 1885, but that way of life came to an end with George Stroup's death in 1886.

Lula Stroup remarried sometime after her husband's death. In the state census of 1895, she and her daughters were in Osage Township with her second husband, William H. Addy, (1848-1920), who was also a farmer. By the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, Fannie, at age eighteen, was teaching. Also during that year she attended (or possibly taught at) a school called Brush College. From 1900 to 1902 or after, she taught at Boicourt, Keokuk, and Moneka, all in Linn County, Kansas. She was at Linn County Normal School at about the same time and in 1907 taught at the Frantz school, also in Kansas.

That's a lot of trivia adding up to not very much. However, it indicates that Fannie Stroup, who called herself F. Georgia Stroup (perhaps after her father), was pretty well on her own once she reached adulthood. That changed on April 25, 1909, when she married William Harvey "Will" Morrison (1879-1946) in Fontana, Linn County, Kansas. In the week after their wedding, the two went to live in California. In the census of 1910, they were in Redlands, where he worked as a farm laborer and she as a teacher. By 1920, he had worked his way up to being a police officer in the city. She, on the other hand, was an orange packer. He kept working his way up, eventually to become chief of police in Redlands from 1935 to 1942. She, on the other hand, ended up in a grave at a mental hospital in Illinois.

The split between F. Georgia Stroup and her husband came sometime in the late 1910s and was final by 1930 when she was living in Chicago and working as a forelady at a lamp shade factory. William H. Morrison had another wife by then and was ensconced at Redlands. So what made Georgia move to Chicago? No one can say, for she was one of countless millions of people who have been swallowed up by the black hole of the past--millions who have left not a trace of themselves other than in public records and perhaps a granite monument in some lonely graveyard.

F. Georgia Stroup left one more thing, though. She left a story called "The House of Death," published in Weird Tales in the magazine's very first issue, March 1923. Did that story arrive on the editor's desk from California? From Kansas? Or was she already in Chicago by 1923? If I had to guess, I would say that Georgia returned home, to Kansas, after her California adventure, including her marriage, came to an end in about 1920. As one piece of evidence, I have a non-fiction piece called "Iron Rust," written under the byline F. Georgia Stroup Morrison and published in the Stockton Review, Stockton, Kansas, March 2, 1922. That article may be the only other piece of her writing still in existence.

Again, by the time of the 1930 census, F. Georgia Stroup was in Chicago. She was counted again in the same place in 1940 but did not give an occupation. She also provided a little more information that was previously lacking in census records: she was in fact divorced and she had received only an eighth-grade education. Also, she let us know that she had lived in Chicago in 1935.

Born in the spring, F. Georgia Stroup died in the fall, sixty-six years ago today, on November 14, 1952. In this week of remembering, we can remember her, too. She lies buried at State Hospital Cemetery in East Moline, Illinois. Presumably she died there, at East Moline Hospital. Norman Elwood Hamerstrom (1899-1970), who also contributed to Weird Tales, died at that same hospital and may very well rest in the same place.

F. Georgia Stroup's Story in Weird Tales
"The House of Death" (Mar. 1923)

Further Reading

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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