This was written in 2012 for Louisiana Road Trips Magazine.
A few years ago, while going through some old Richland Parish newspapers, I stumbled across this article about two little orphans in Monroe. It is a fascinating read on how society treated its most vulnerable citizens at the turn of the century. I found no further information on the girls, not even their names. A W.L. Pearson married Annie Screws in Ouachita Parish December 24, 1883 but it is not known if they are the children’s parents. We can only hope and wonder if the little girls made it.
Richland Beacon News, Saturday, January 19, 1895, Page 1, Column 7
TWO LITTLE GIRLS
in Monroe From a Possible
Life of Infamy.
There are not a great many people in Monroe who are aware of the fact that there is a society here for the prevention of cruelty to children. It is a fact, however, and an incident yesterday shows that it is capable of doing good work.
Mr. D.M. Sholars is the president. Some time ago his attention was calied [sic] to the fact that a woman by the name of Anna Pierson, better known as “Anna Joe,” and who was not leading a proper life, had living with her two little girls. Mr. Sholars told her at the time that he proposed to take the children and put them in an asylum where they would receive proper care and be brought up with good surrounding. She plead so hard that upon her representation that she had got a position with a boarding house in Five Points, he agreed to allow her to keep the young ones.
Several days ago he learned that Mrs. Pierson had moved to a house back of Young’s bayou and that she had broken her promises of reformation and that the children were running wild about the city. Yesterday he asked Mr. Chas. Schulze, the vice-president of the society, to go out and investigate the case.
Mr. Schulze had considerable difficulty in locating the place. Finally he asked Mr. H.P. Hughes to direct him and was surprised to learn that “Anna Joe” had died on Monday and been buried yesterday. Further investigation showed that before her death Mrs. Pierson had asked a woman named Mollie Simpson to care for the children. The reputation of this woman is none of the best.
Just before reaching Mollie’s house Mr. Schulze saw a buggy standing in front of the door. There he met Miss Lena Barclay, who is the president of the Lilliputian society, in company with Miss Eva Parker and Alex Mitchell, Jr., who are pupils in the city school and also members of the society. She was asked to go there by Mayor Aby, who had heard of the case and who got her a horse and buggy.
Mollie Simpson at first refused to give up the children, saying that they had been given her by Anna Joe, and she intended to keep them. She was told she was not able to care for them and that they would be given a good home and educated. But she persisted and the children clung about he[r]. The younger child finally consented to go, while the older one escaped and hid under the house.
Both were finally got into the buggy, though the woman still threatened that she would invoke the aid of the law in regaining their possession. The party drove to the residence of Rev. H.L. Fitch, where the children now are. Mr. Fitch will keep them, if they have no relations, until he can hear from New Orleans, when he will send them to that city and have them placed in St. Mary’s Episcopal Orphan Asylum.
A peculiar thing about the two girls, one of whom is only seven years old and the other ten, is that they both use snuff. They were fast becoming professional beggars, being sent out in all sorts of weather to get money for their mother, with which she bought laudanum and snuff. Mollie Simpson has a girl of her own and it is likely the society will take her in charge. – Monroe News.