The Murder of Mary Jane Scaife (1837-1858)

My 4th Great Aunt was a lady named Mary Jane Scaife.  She was sister to Thomas Scaife, my 3x Great Grandfather and one of the first Skaifes in the United States from my family.  She was murdered in August of 1858 by a former love interest, James Atkinson.  The news was very sensational and garnered a lot of press and attention to mental health issues. Mary Jane Scaife and James Atkinson were neighbors in the small village of Darley, about 45 minutes drive north of Leeds.  They grew up together and were evidently quite close.  So close, in fact, that they were widely assumed to be in love and would marry at some point.  But Mary Jane’s mother (Mary A Downes Scaife) and Atkinson’s father did not approve.  The relationship soured.  On the evening in question, they walked together after church when Atkinson proposed marriage, but denied. Atkinson confessed: She was all the while awkward with me, and would not go on quietly, so I stopped her where she was; I took her by the throat and told her I would murder her if she did not go on quietly.  She sale it was all false.  She said I only wanted to make her believe so.  Then I took her by the throat and tried to choke her.  She cried not […]

Edna Evelyn Skaife Gardner Hartwig [1910-1989]

While searching for more information on my Paternal Great Grandmother, I found her in this 1925 Yearbook of the Curtis Agricultural College.  She must have enrolled after marriage, as her married name is included in the yearbook itself.  Unfortunately, her husband Floyd would die just 10 short years later.  Curtis School of Agriculture, as it was known at the time, existed in several forms from 1913-1968.  According to the UNSA Historical Website: The Nebraska School of (NSA) Agriculture was created as an agriculture high school. At that time in history, most students ended their formal education in eighth grade. If a student wished to continue his or her education, he or she would have to attend a state high school and, in most cases, that meant leaving home to live on a high school campus. In 1911, the Nebraska State Legislature voted to build an agriculture high school somewhere in southwest Nebraska. Curtis won the bid for the school and construction began. The school’s Agriculture Hall was completed in 1913 and welcomed its first students in the fall of that year. Since the school was a state institution, no tuition was charged. Room and board cost $4 a week and the students stayed in the “best homes in Curtis”. Eventually dormitories were built to house the students. Edna was a beloved […]