Mr. Brown's Hired Man Was a Dandy at Hard Work But She Proved to Be a Girl.
Located by Her Mother and Taken to Her New York Home--Her Companions Thought Her a Good Fellow--She Smoked and Chewed but Seldom Swore.
Henry R. Brown, the well-known liveryman, has lost his new hired man, all because she turned out to be a girl. He believed her to be an unfortunate lad and took her into his employ out of simple charity; she fulfilled every duty entrusted to her, proved herself capable and reliable in every particular, and then she was discovered by her mother, made to exchange her laborer's garb for dainty attire, and the two departed for New York, where it is said the girl's father is city physician. No wonder Mr. Brown is astonished. And what shall be said of the rest of the help, who regarded the new comer as a "bully good fellow," up to snuff and a first rate companion on any stable boy's lark?
The girl's name is Myra Morgan and she is 22 years old, about 5 feet 4, light complexion, well built and glib of tongue. Her father is said to be a physician of prominence in New York city these many years; a man of wealth and enjoying life by hunting trips to the Adirondacks and elsewhere, on which occasions his daughter Myra is usually his companion. From an early age she has been able to handle gun and rod quite as well as a man, and her acquaintance with nature is broad and enlightening.
Mrs. Morgan, her mother, it is reported, loved the country rather than city life, and several years ago, at her desire, the hotel at Hartwellville, this state, was purchased by the doctor and his wife and two daughters moved from the city to conduct the business, making occasional trips to New York to keep family ties tied. The business, so it is said, did not prosper, and finally a young man appeared who married Myra's sister, and she and her husband took affairs in charge and stopped leakages, so that at present the place is well conducted and considered desirable in every way.
During this time Myra worked on the farm, often donning boy's clothing, it is said, but nothing much was thought of it, for the change of attire seemed to make her duties lighter. It is hinted that she has as a stable boy taken the horses of travelers and later, as waitress in proper garb, attended to their wants in the dining room.
Just what led the girl to come to Brattleboro is uncertain. She was supplied with funds and had a comfortable home among those who condoned her eccentricities. Also, be it known, according to her mother's testimony, this was not her first exploitation of the sort. She has done the trick before, remote from here but quite as successfully.
When she appeared at Mr. Brown's office, just at dusk one evening about a month ago, dressed as a boy, her clothing soaked with the heavy rain, she told a pitiful story of her unsuccessful search for work, said where she had been and what assurances had been given her, and in general her tale of woe was so full of misery that Mr. Brown, with the warm heart of a true man, said right away "Go over to the American house and go to bed. Come around in the morning and we'll see what we can do.
I'll pay the bill." She did so. On the register she signed, in a fine round, but unmistakably womanish hand, "A.H. Orton, Brattleboro, Vt." It would pass muster anywhere, save that she spelled it "Brattelboro," and added a mysterious "R.H.B." in capitals, which perhaps meant that Mr. Brown was responsible for her account.
Next morning she showed up on time and the rest of the story is simple, for there wasn't a job around the stables or connected with the establishment which she did not do, capably and in trustworthy style. One day she drove the carriage which carried the parson at the head of a funeral; one dark night, with roads washed and rain falling in torrents, she took a couple from a late train over to Chesterfield, and came back alone, safe and sound. She could do anything, and do it well, "as well as anybody I ever had," says Mr. Brown. She at once became a favorite with her companions in the stable and would do "stunts" for them, exchange work, clean out for the other fellow--in short do anything that came to hand, and do it right. True, she borrowed tobacco right and left, both for chewing and smoking, but the men were glad to accommodate her. She was such a good fellow that there was rivalry as to who should chum with her. She could tell a "good" story with the best of them, but it is now remarked by all that she rarely took an oath. Mr. Brown says that she could put more hay in the mow and pack it better than any man he ever had in his employ, and he speaks especially of her ability to do at once and excellently whatever she was asked to do. Her evenings were spent most quietly, generally in writing. She had "her girl" in North Adams, Mass., to whom she wrote almost nightly, and there were many other letters.
Mr. Brown's farm needed an extra man and Myra was sent over. She almost killed the rest of the gang by the way she went at work, and she occupied a bedroom with one of the men, undressing in the darkness and routing him out in the morning with half her clothes on. This kept up for ten days or more.
Then, finally, came the end. Her mother searching everywhere for her, got trace of her doings and called on Mr. Brown. He was obliging but couldn't believe it. He took Mrs. Morgan over to the farm in his team and called Myra to the carriage. "Who is this?" he asked. "My mother," she replied, and fell in a faint in the grass. But it was only for a moment. She got on her feet, borrowed a man's wheel of one of the men in the field, refused conveyance in the carriage, and so the trip was made to the Brooks House. There a consultation between mother and daughter was held, the whole story was discussed, trousers were changed for skirts, and the departure was made for New York city, Mrs. Morgan thanking Mr. Brown with tears in her eyes for his kindness to her wayward daughter.
Brattleboro Reformer, July 3, 1903.
Worked in Brattleboro in Livery and as Farm Hand.
Was Detected and Agreed Protestingly to Go Back to New York with
Her Mother--Had Been in Similar Escapade.
Masquerading 10 days as a man without arousing a suspicion as to her sex and during that time performing hard labor as a stable boy and farm hand, Miss Myra Morgan, 22, was compelled on Friday to acknowledge her identity, and to return reluctantly to New York with her mother, although she threatened to take her life if not allowed to live and dress as she chose.
Myra has a strange mania for man's clothes. She was the kind of a small girl known as a tom-boy, and two or three years ago she disappeared from her home and was found some time later, disguised as a man in New York city, where she was at work as a clerk in a paint store. Her escapade was one of the sensations of the day in New York, and the daily newspapers made the most of it as one of the "human interest" stories, with illustrations and big headlines.
The young woman's father is a practicing physician in New York. The family bought a few years ago the hotel property in the village of Heartwellville in the town of Readsboro. The mother, who is a capable woman, ran the hotel successfully two or three seasons, and then turned it over to a married daughter and her husband, who are now its managers. Since Myra played the part of a man in New York she has been living with her sister in Heartwellville. Some time ago Myra took offence at something that was said to her in the family and immediately had her hair cut short again. She disappeared from Heartwellville, June 18, coming directly to Brattleboro. How she came is not known, but she arrived at the American House with clothes drenched. She registered there as A.H. Orton, and paid for a room until Sunday, but made no arrangement for meals.
Two or three times the next two days the people at the hotel, suspecting that the comely youth was short of funds, asked "him" into the dining room and furnished food. Whether the wanderer had other food in the two days is not known.
"A. H. Orton" tried unsuccessfully to get work at the Retreat, the Estey organ factory and in Stockwell & Putnam's stable, finally applying to H. R. Brown at his livery. On being questioned by Mr. Brown the "youth" said he had worked in a livery stable in North Adams, in Tudor's lumber camp in Somerset and in other places. Mr. Brown said he had no work, but when the stranger's eyes filled with tears and he said he had but 18 cents in the world, Mr. Brown told him that he might go to work in the stable until some other work could be found. "Allie" proved a good stable boy, hitched and unhitched the horses, swept out the stable, carried out loads of manure, and one day drove a hearse in a funeral procession. The young "fellow" slept in a room at the stable occupied by the men who stay there to answer night calls for teams. "He" drove with one team to Pine Grove Springs early the next week, and tried unsuccessfully to get work there as a bell boy. Not being needed in the stable "Allie" went to Mr. Brown's farm near the old ferry to help with the farm work. Here "he" assisted the farmer who lives there alone in all of the general work of the farm, not even refusing the hard toil of running one end of a cross cut saw. In appearance the youth was good looking, rather quiet, willing to smoke cigarettes, to chew tobacco, and was not averse to reeling off an oath with gusto. Twice while at the farm "Allie" borrowed of his companion in the farm work a razor and soap in order to shave. Whether the shaving process was performed is uncertain but at least the face was lathered and a bluff made at shaving.
The identify of the hard working laborer was revealed through a person in Brattleboro, who had lived in Heartwellville and who knew the story of the Morgan family. On recognizing the stable boy notification was sent to Heartwellville, and Mrs. Morgan came to Brattleboro last Friday. She visited the livery stable, told the story of the deception which seemed incredible to everybody in the stable, and went with Mr. Brown to the farm. On confronting her mother Myra admitted the game she had been playing, but with expletives refused to ride back to Brattleboro with her mother. She mounted a man's bicycle, pedalled to the Brooks House, and there, protestingly, donned the feminine attire which the mother had provided, and returned with her to New York.
Vermont Phoenix, July 3, 1903.