I wrote this article in 20015 for Louisiana Road Trips Magazine. I still don’t know anything about her.
This article haunts me for some reason. Suicide is nothing new. It has been going on since the beginning of man. For some unknown reason, on September 3, 1877, Neecy Hardin decided to take her own life.
Even this young woman’s correct name is unknown. She is listed in the article as Neecy Hardin, alias Ethel Hunt. Her coroner’s report lists her as Nicey Hardin. No such woman was found in the 1870 Union Parish census. There was a nine year old Nancy Hardin, listed as the daughter of Martin and Perilla Hardin. She would have been about sixteen when Neecy died. She isn’t seen on any other census. Could this be her? I hate not knowing exactly who she was. I hate that she is resting somewhere in an unmarked grave out in Monroe’s Old City Cemetery. I hate that she felt she had no choice.
The Ouachita Telegraph, Friday, September 7, 1877, page 3, column 2.
Suicide by Drowning.
Neecy Hardin, a poor young white woman, came to this city, something over a year
ago from Union parish. She sought and obtained employment as a house servant.
During the time, it is said, she went astray, assumed the alias of Ethel Hunt, and
finally abandoned work. Her fall went on rapidly, until her life ended by drowning
in the river Saturday night. Her remains were discovered at the wharfboat, Monday
morning, by Mr. Head of the wharfboat. On the feet were a pair of very small gaiters
tightly laced, the hair had been carefully combed and confined with a large band-comb,
and a pair of merino gloves were on the hands. The other apparel was the best that
Ethel’s wardrobe could furnish.
Coronor [sic] Surghnor held an inquest on the body, and it was fully established
that is was the body of Ethel Hunt. The Jury decided, after investigation, that
death was not the result of violence but of voluntarily drowning. We have examined
the testimony, much of which is irrelevant and some of which not admissible in our
columes [sic], and find that the verdict is in accordance with the facts sworn to.
Ethel was living with Mr. R. Miller, assisting his wife who was sick. Late Saturday
evening she dressed herself neatly and went out in town. About 8 o’clock Mr. Hoggard,
the ferryman, heard hallowing at the ferry landing on this side, and very soon heard
some screams. It was thought that a policeman was making an arrest, and the cries
were not responded to. At the point whence the cries proceeded the river is not more
than four feet deep some 15 feet from the water’s edge. There was no boat, raft or
log to jump from, and the “poor unfortunate,” deliberately importunate, must have
waded into the stream and ended her sad existence in this way. She has relatives,
we understand, in Union parish. Her remains were interred in the Monroe Cemetery.
The way of the transgressor, it is said, is hard, but with none harder than with
dissolute females. Three deaths of such characters by suicide we have recorded in
a little over a year. The listen; hesitate, are lost, and then Death, too tardy
in his natural pace, is wooed and wed with a pistol, morphine or some other agency
of violence, and the two, spectacles for the gaze of the curious and the vulgar,
go to the potter’s field for a permanent home. The blame is not all theirs, but
alas! The punishment usually is.