By 1900 Sophia had lived through an unusual childhood (Part 1), a wonderful educational opportunity (Part 2), and an early career success and downfall (Part 3). At this point she married my gg-uncle William Blackstone Bennett in Winthrop, Massachusetts.
A contemporary newspaper article about the marriage was written by someone who had met her and William, and probably influences my view of them more than the many architecture articles I’ve perused.
The Boston Daily Advertiser of May 3, 1900 reported from Winthrop that “both are highly esteemed and respected”; she “early displayed a talent for art and architectural design.” Several medals related to Sophia’s work on the Woman’s Building were mentioned. The writer denied an apparent earlier story that she had ever “gained any income from her needle”, saying that although she was “versatile as well as talented”, “needlework of any sort is not among her accomplishments.” The couple “studied art together and thus found their first mutual interests.” The wedding was performed in Providence by “Justice Douglas, brother-in-law to Mr. Bennett. It was therefore a family affair.” William is described as a “portrait painter, and spent years in Montevideo and Buenos Ayres.” Lately he “has given more of his time to interior decoration and design.” William’s daughter returned from staying with her aunt in Orange to “become a member of the newly formed household” and is “well pleased with her handsome and young new mama.” He closes with a word about the bride’s “attractive personality,” mentioning “all the charms of a modest, well-bred, highly cultured and talented American girl combined with the dower of her Spanish ancestors in the way of glorious eyes and hair.”
They only had 9 years together
This ad from the 1904 Winthrop Directory shows that William’s business had moved into the interior decor realm. I would have to assume that this provided a better income than portrait painting, however, I also suspect he never stopped painting.
William died of pneumonia on April 11, 1909. The couple never had any children of their own. Sophia and her stepdaughter, Jennie May, continued to live in the home they owned in Winthrop at 369 Shirley Street. In census records, Sophia usually listed herself as a Designer – Novelty Co. Jennie May became a nurse and is listed that way (as “Minnie”) in the 1918 “Winthrop Directory”. A picture of her in uniform was among my grandfather’s WWI photos.
Jennie May grew up
Jennie May was married by 1920 and living in Gardner, Mass. with her husband. They had one son that I know about, Billy. One last picture shows a family get-together around 1935 with Jennie May, her son Billy, Aunt Hattie’s widower Uncle Gene, Jennie May’s cousins Jim Baldwin and Edna Baldwin (Edna’s husband Miles is undoubtedly taking the picture), Edna’s father Russell Darling who must have gone along for the ride, and finally the two unruly tots are my mother and her twin sister. The man behind Jennie May might be her husband; my mother is not sure. The picture was taken at Uncle Gene’s home in Cochituate, Massachusetts.
Sophia died in 1953
Sophia remained in Winthrop until her death in February, 1953 at age 84. I know very little about her life after 1920 but if I ever reconnect with Jennie May’s descendants I will help them add more details to the archives at MIT.
I suspect, but don’t know, that Sophia was the best thing that ever happened to that “Novelty Co.” and that her fame may have faded but her talent and hard work never did.
Gullet, Gayle. “Organized Women Advance Women’s Work at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.” Illinois Historical Journal (Winter 1994). PDF edition. Illinois State Historical Society. http://dig.lib.niu.edu/ISHS/ishs-1994winter/ishs-1994winter259.pdf
“Hayden, Sophia Gregoria.” In Notable American Women: The Modern Period, edited by Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green, 322-24. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980.
“Lucky Sophia Hayden – Her Design Selected for the Woman’s Building at the Chicago Exposition,” New York Herald, 06 April 1891, p. 4, col. 2; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 10 Oct 2011).
Massachusetts. Suffolk County. Boston. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Enumeration District 766, p. 493, dwelling 128, family 173, Sophia Hayden; digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2010. From National Archives microfilm.
Massachusetts. Suffolk County. Winthrop Township. 1900 U.S. census. Enumeration District 1578, sheet 3A, dwelling 49, family 61, William Bennett; digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2010. From National Archives microfilm.
Massachusetts. Suffolk County. Winthrop Township. 1910 U.S. census. Enumeration District 1689, sheet 12B, dwelling 247, family 271, Sophia G. Bennett; digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2010. From National Archives microfilm.
Massachusetts. Suffolk County. Winthrop. Precinct 3. 1920 U.S. census. Enumeration District 676, sheet 23A, dwelling 339, family 583, Sophia Bennett; digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2010. From National Archives microfilm.
Massachusetts. Suffolk County. Winthrop. 1930 U.S. census. Enumeration District 13-573, sheet 30A, dwelling 408, family 674, Sophia Bennett; digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2010. From National Archives microfilm.
Millet, F.D. “The Designer of the Fair.” Harpers New Monthly Magazine, November 1892, 872-83.
“Miss Hayden’s Romance,” Boston Daily Advertiser, 03 May 1900, p. 8, col. 2; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 10 Oct 2011).
“Sophia G. Hayden.” In We The Women: Career Firsts of Nineteenth Century America,” by Madeleine B. Stern, 67-76. New York: Schulte Publ. Co., 1963.
Weimann, Jeanne Madeline. “The Fair Women.” Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1981.
“The Woman’s Building.” In Rand McNally and Company’s A Week at the Fair, 177-182. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1893. http://ia600200.us.archive.org/8/items/randmcnallycoswe00chic/randmcnallycoswe00chic.pdf