My BROTHERS & SISTERS By Harriet Seyler Bell
Ruth Elizabeth Scranton, Penn. 1894-1903
First I want to describe little Ruth Elizabeth. Here was a sensitive happy talented child. She had a nice voice and ability to sing and she sang a great deal. We had learned to sing two part songs together and that was our part on programs in school and Sunday school.
It seemed that from the beginning Ruth was destined to be the victim of tragic happenings. When still a baby she fell from her crib and injured her back & was slightly paralyzed for a while but seemed gradually to get well again. She was blond with Hazel eyes and very delicate in features and physique. Possessed of a vivid imagination she & I played together acting out the fairy stories which had been told to us or which we had read. She had been attending kindergarten only a short while when she came home one day running a high temperature & saying she was very tired. This proved to be spinal meningitis, & she was a very sick little girl. The doctor gave her little chance for recovery & “if she did” he said. “She would be badly crippled”.
I’m sure that the prayers of my mother and her family were instrumental in bringing Ruth through & without crippling effect, except for the nerves of one eye. This had the effect of turning one eye out slightly but oddly enough it added to her attractiveness. Ruth was a very apt, almost brilliant student in school & especially liked poetry. Her favorite was Whittier’s “Great Wide Wonderful World. She was very fond of native birds, & flowers, and someway I always associated her with the beauty of the flowers & the songs of birds.
When Ruth was 9 yrs old, my mother took the four of us, Paul was just a yearling, on a visit to Scranton, Penn. To see her folks, where grandpa was minister. My grandparents lived in the parsonage, which was a very large three storied house and grandmother had fitted up the third floor for mother & us to use freely and as our own while there. It was a wonderful summer.
We had visited several of mother's old school mates & aunts and uncles at Dunkirk and Buffalo N.Y. She had returned to Scranton on my birthday, July 1, when the accident occurred that took little Ruth’s life. She had followed me down the steep stairs of the attic, had missed her footing & slidden down the flight on her back. This disturbed the old weakness and concussion (brain fever) set in. The noise of the fireworks was so painful that she almost screamed every time she heard one fired by neighbors who did not realize. In about a week she died and I lost my best beloved sister and playmate, who was just 18 mo. Younger than I. She was buried in a lone grave in a Scranton cemetery. I took flowers & went way out by myself to the grave many times thereafter. The church yard was full of darkies & grandmother had many flowers to which I helped myself without asking grandmother. Grandmother was very angry when she missed the flowers & I admitted the theft. but I was forgiven when I explained what I had done with them, but warned not to go to the cemetery by myself again. Little Ruth still lies in that little grave in Scranton.
Paul Kreuger Seyler 1900- Denver, Colo.
Paul was one of the sweetest babies I have ever known & I loved him as if he had been my very own. I was 8 yrs older & a very dependable & responsible child. Consequently I had a very important part in the care of him. I learned to do everything that goes along with baby care, as his birth left my mother in a very delicate condition (Paul was a twin whose twin was still born). We had a maid but I remember often washing diapers feeding the baby and took him for daily walks accompanied by Ruth & Anna. and it was my constant responsibility to look after, play with, and tend to the childrens wants. Paul had such a quiet sweet disposition. Sister Anna was a very tantalizing sort of a child. She had a penchant for teasing & torturing the baby. I had to watch her constantly & defend him. It may have been jealousy as Paul was the first boy & received a lot of attention that had formerly been lavished upon Anna but whatever the reason she was incorrigible in that respect. If it had not been for his then good disposition it would have been awful. As it was it did things to him that were not good.
Paul was a very good student and a regular little guy. He was systematic & diligent, loved to read, had a huge amount of curiosity and took many books from the library. He went thru school like a breeze and graduated from the University where he took Electrical Engineering in his 20th year. He was president of his fraternity, business manager of the school annual, house manager and conducted a beauty contest while in college. Upon graduating he took a job with Mountain State Tel & Tel Co. for whom he had worked summers while in school & he stayed with that company, steadily going up. He was given the project of working out the wireless telephone (the Walkie Talkie) & succeeded doing it in the country of eastern Colo.
Paul met his wife Gertrude Richardson on a blind date in his senior year at the Univ. He was married a year thereafter and to that marriage were born Marian & Anne.
Anna Grace Seyler September 11, 1896 Denver, Colorado
Anna was the third baby girl to be born in the family and Papa was very disappointed, but soon became reconciled and very fond of his baby daughter. She was a very large and plump baby. Enclined to be physically lethargic she developed a very heavy head of long blond hair and hazel eyes. A very pretty baby and one which I adored. She was the first to be born after Papa and Mamma moved to Denver, while Harriet and Ruth were companionable, Anna was quite different and lived in a little world of her own. She had fanciful imaginings and dreamed unusual dreams. To me she seemed like a beautiful doll which I dressed and cared for as I would a doll. When I learned how, I made her clothes and dressed her up, caring for her hair and looking after her.
Later when Paul was born she developed a sadistic tendency to torment him and had to be watched and continually restrained. She also developed temprement and went on, tempremental tares, when she became very ugly in disposition. However, being the youngest she was affectionately regarded by both parents, particularly my father and much of this was overlooked by them. She did well in school and graduated from high school in her 16th year. She also became quite proficient on the piano.
It was decided that a good education with courses in psychology would do much toward modifying her peculiar temprement and as she was particularly apt -- she attended the University one year then taught a year on a cattle ranch, having one pupil. Here she learned something of self-discipline. Later she attended business school and became private secretary to a prominent eye doctor (Dr. Jackson of Denver) who also edited an eye journal. She translated articles for this magazine and became interested in medicine while studying at the University. She served as private secretary to a Dr. Engle, professor of chem at Denver University and later became secretary to the register at the school of Mines at Golden.
She finally decided to take up the study of medicine, took her premedical work at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Colorado Medical Center at Denver. Upon graduation she interned at the Lynic in Hospital at Philadelphia.
When she finished she came back to Denver, worked at the County Children's Hospital and did private obstetrical work. In a year or two she opened one office with another woman doctor down town. She was working out a practice when an unfortunate accident changed the course of her career.
All this time she had made her home with our parents. They were away on vacation and she was left alone in the house with leak had developed in the gas furnace and one day in the bath room she was overcome by gas. She fell and cut a gash in her head. She did not regain consciousness until the next day. She doctored the wound in her scalp herself and told no one of the incident, as she was unaware of the cause and thought she may have been hit by an intruder.
In a short time her conduct became noticeably peculiar. She became very quiet and forgetful and the doctor with whom she shared the office notified my brother Paul that he had better go out to see her and see if he could determine what might be wrong. He brought her home with him, there was not sufficiently alarmed about the her condition and in a few days took her back home again. In another few days it became very apparent that her condition was getting worse.
She was placed in a psychiatric hospital for observation and pronounced insane. It was not until my mother came home from a visit East that she noticed a gas leak in the bathroom and connected it with the fall Anna had. (she had written mother about that) that my mother went to the hospital and called their attention to the scalp wound on my sister's head. Then it was that an examination revealed a blood clot in the brain. After treatment of about three or four months the clot was dissolved and she became normal again.
She decided now that she would prefer to do institutional work and so secured a position at Kansas State University at Manhattan in the Department of Health. After a year there, she took a position in a hospital at South Bend, Indiana and after 3 years transferred to the Lake County Sanitarium at Crown Point, Indiana where she did minor surgery. She achieved membership in the American College of Chest Surgeons and finished her medical career at Crown Point. When she retired she took her residence in Hillcrest retirement home in La Verne, California, a project of the Church of the Brethren, where she found security, rest and peace of mind, to spend her declining years.