Biographical, Historical, Fiction

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In the middle part of the 19th century Natchez, in the Mississippi Territory, was the center of commerce for the Mississippi River valley. All of the boats traversing the river stopped in Natchez. Boats were coming from the Dakota Territory on the Missouri River and they stopped in Natchez. Boats coming down the Mississippi River from St. Louis, and points north, all stopped in Natchez. Boats coming from Cincinnati and Pittsburg on the Ohio River stopped in Natchez. Boats coming from Nashville on the Cumberland River stopped in Natchez. Boats coming upriver from New Orleans stopped in Natchez. The showboats and the commercial boats all made the stop in Natchez. All of the 300 cotton plantations in the Natchez area shipped their bales of cotton from Natchez. Some of the cotton went north to St. Louis or Cincinnati and some went down river to New Orleans. Natchez was the most important city on the Mississippi River. Natchez was a very rich town. There were more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States. That would have made Natchez the richest city in the country.

In the year 1840 two tornadoes hit Natchez. The first tornado happened in April and killed over 300 people. Most of the people that were killed were on flatboats on the river. That event is still referred to as the Great Natchez Tornado. The second tornado was the birth of little Hannah Benbrook in September. It would be some years before people would realize what an earth shaking event that was.

The Benbrook’s were one of the leading families of Natchez. W. G. Benbrook was the mayor of Natchez and would serve as mayor for 33 years. The family owned the Benbrook Brick Works and several retail establishments including a dry goods store and a grocery. The family was not as wealthy as the large cotton plantation owners or the people that owned the riverboats but they had enough money to be considered rich. The Benbrook Brick Works was the only source of bricks south of Memphis. Most of the brick used to pave the streets of New Orleans came from the Benbrook Brick Works. As Mayor of Natchez, W. G. had a big say on which local streets would be paved and the paving bricks were sold by his brick works. A huge supply of clay for making bricks was on land owned by the Benbrook family.

The Benbrook family was blessed with four daughters. Hannah was the youngest and the most spirited. As they girls grew they became immersed in the social order of Natchez society. The social strata involved five levels. The top level was the daughters of the very wealthy and had that position because their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers had the position. The next strata were the daughters of the newly rich and newly arrived in the area. These girls craved to move up. The next level was for the rich but not wealthy. The Benbrook girls were at this level. They had dreams of being with the higher level girls. The next level was the middle class daughters. They wanted to move up and under the right circumstances could move up one level. The bottom level was the poor and no girl at this level had an opportunity to be anything but on the bottom.

The social event of the year was the Debutantes Cotillion. Each of the older Benbrook girls was presented and came out at the cotillion. Hannah refused to be involved in such foolishness. She had a greater involvement in caring for the family horses and other livestock. She loved going to the brick works to watch them make bricks. She had a little one person pony cart that she drove all over Natchez. She became very familiar with the denizens of the businesses and saloons in the area Under-The-Hill. The common working people of Natchez adored Hannah. She was unlike the snotty, upper class girls that were only interested in how they looked and how they dressed.

Because Hannah took little notice of her personal appearance she did not realize that she was prettier than her sisters and the other young women of Natchez. Her Mother noticed and was distressed that Hannah would not put more effort into her appearance. Hannah was blessed with a slender body with a nip in the waist and a flare to the hips. She had a pronounced bosom that would cause men to turn and look. Her hair was long, blond and wavy. Although no one could see her legs because of the fashions of the time they were well formed with trim ankles. She delighted in dressing in riding clothes so she could wear riding trousers rather than dresses. She refused to ride side saddle as the proper young ladies did. She mounted her horse like a man.

Shortly before her 21st birthday the economy of Natchez changed. In April of 1861 the confederate army of the states that were seceding attacked Fort Sumter, a U.S. military installation. The Civil War was on and the Southern states, including Mississippi, seceded from the Union. The north and the south both raised armies to fight. The plantation owners of the Natchez area were extremely disturbed by these events. The main markets for their cotton were in the north. The markets of Europe and England could be easily cut off by a blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi River. They could grow cotton but they had no way to sell and no one to sell it to. Traffic on the river and the docks of Natchez came to halt. The plantation owners felt that secession was the wrong way to resolve the problem. Most of the owners were northerners by birth and had very little alliance with the southern aristocracy.

In 1863 the Union Army came up the river to occupy Natchez. Only one cannon shot was fired and one man died as a result. He had a heart attack on hearing the cannon. The army came ashore with General Grant as the commander. Most of the young men of Natchez had already left to join the confederate army so there were only women, children, and old men left in town. There was no opposition. General Grant set up his headquarters in the finest mansion in town, Rosalie Mansion. Due to the lack of opposition, General Grant ordered that his troops treat the citizens of Natchez with kindness and respect.

General Grant’s staff included a young West Point graduate named Clifford Newkirk. Captain Newkirk was from a very well to do Boston family. The family was involved in banking and insurance and other financial affairs. The family had wanted Clifford to join the family business but his sense of adventure was not made for such a sedate business. He wanted to be a military leader and wangled his way into West Point. He proved to be one of the finest students in his class and graduated at the top of the class. After graduation he served in the Washington D.C. area and met General Grant. Grant was very taken with the young officer and put him on his staff. Captain Newkirk was with Grant when they entered Natchez.

General Grant put Captain Newkirk in charge of civilian relations. Any citizen of Natchez that had a complaint came to Captain Newkirk and he would handle the problem. General Grant promoted Clifford to Major. While working with the citizens he had occasion to get to know the mayor of Natchez and also met his family. When he met Hannah he knew he had found the woman that he wanted to marry. They were alike in many ways. They both had the same sense of adventure and were unsatisfied with going with the crowd. Major Newkirk arranged dances with the citizens so that he would have an opportunity to spend time with Hannah. Hannah was flattered by the attention but was unsure how to respond as the Major was the enemy. She discussed it with her father and he told her to follow her heart. He said the south would lose the war and Clifford would be with the winning side. With that advice, she told Clifford of her feelings for him and he told her of his feelings.

At this time, President Lincoln summoned General Grant to assume command of all the Union armies so he had to leave Natchez and he had to take his staff. Clifford told Hannah that he would be back to Natchez for her as soon as the war was over and had Hannah promise to wait.

A year later the war was over and, now Colonel Newkirk, headed to Natchez. Colonel Newkirk had a new command. He was to be commander at Fort Kearney in the Nebraska territory. He stopped in Natchez to marry Hannah and to have her come with him to Fort Kearney. After a month in Natchez the happy couple got on a riverboat to go to Omaha and on to Fort Kearney.

Colonel and Mrs. Newkirk arrived in Omaha and were met by several military officers. They escorted them to a very nice hotel and made certain they were comfortable. They advised that they would arrange a military escort to take them the 200 miles to Fort Kearney but Colonel Newkirk rejected that idea as misuse of the military. He said that they would take a stage. The Sioux tribes were not a threat and he felt they would be fine.

The next morning they boarded the stage to Lincoln for a one day trip of about fifty miles. They arrived and spent a delightful evening in the city. The next morning they boarded the stage and left. They planned on being in York before the sun set. They made it to York with no problem and had another lovely evening. The next day they left for Grand Island on the Platte River. Half way to Grand Island the stage was attacked by a marauding band of Crow Indians. This band of warriors had been chased by the cavalry from Fort Hayes in Kansas. The Crow were angry and when they saw the stage they attacked. Both the driver and his helper were killed by arrows in the first few minutes. The horses pulling the stage were out of control and running. Clifford got off several shots and brought down one of the Crow but the jouncing of the stage would not allow a good shot. One of the Crow got to the front of the horses and as the horses turned the stage rolled over. Of the six passengers, two were killed when the stage rolled over and the Crow finished the remainder.

The station master was concerned that the stage was three hours late so he sent two men to see if they had a problem. When the men saw the vultures circling they knew something was wrong. They found the wreckage and gathered the bodies and covered them so the vultures couldn’t get to them. One of the men rode back to the station to get a wagon to transport the bodies and to advise the station master what had happened. They took the wagon back and gathered the bodies and took them to the station. The station master examined the bodies and immediately asked where the woman was. The men said these were the only bodies and they had searched the area thoroughly.

What had happened to Hannah? There were theories at the time. Had Hannah been taken by the Crow and used, abused, and discarded in a gully? Would she live out her life as a slave in a Crow village as the wife of a Crow warrior?

Hannah was taken by the Crow. She was with them for four days and nights. They tied her on a horse during the day and travelled rapidly across the prairie as they tried to get to their familiar area to the northwest. At night, each of the five braves used Hannah. After four days of travel the Crow felt that Hannah was slowing them down. On the morning of the fifth day Hannah woke to find that she was alone. The Crow had left at sunup without waking her. The trauma of the experience had left Hannah in a state where she did not know who she was or where she came from or how she came to be in this place. Hannah started walking to the north. She did not know why she went that way or if there was anything in that direction. She had no food or water and only the clothes she was wearing and the clothing was ripped and torn. She found a small stream and had some water to drink but still no food.

Late in the afternoon a Sioux hunting party saw her wandering on the prairie and started riding towards her. Hannah saw the Indians approaching and thought it was the Crow coming for her and she started to run. The Sioux soon caught her and tried to find out information about her. One of the men in the hunting party spoke a little English and tried to talk with her. Hannah was quiet. The Sioux didn’t know that Hannah was unable to speak. The men did not know what to do with her. They knew if they left her she would die and they did not want that to happen. They were two days ride from their village so they started in that direction.

When they arrived in the Sioux village the women of the village took over caring for Hannah. They bathed her and gave her fresh clothes. She still was unable to speak and had a vacant stare. The chief of the village determined that the best thing would be for her to go to a town where there were people of her own kind to care for her. The closest town was North Platte. The English speaking Sioux and two other men and two women accompanied Hannah to North Platte. The Indians sought out the sheriff to tell him what they knew and to leave Hannah with someone that could help her. The sheriff took her to the hotel where the owner and his wife could look after her. The local doctor came to examine her but Hannah would not let the doctor touch her.

Hannah stayed with the hotel owner and his wife. They treated her with kindness and she gradually was able to function but still could not speak. She even helped work in the hotel and the restaurant by cleaning. Three months later an officer from Fort Kearney came to North Platte and was staying at the hotel. He immediately recognized Hannah as he had served with Grant in Natchez and had met Hannah on many occasions. He knew what had happened to Colonel Newkirk. He sent a wire to the fort commander and told them that he had found the missing wife of Colonel Newkirk. The commander sent a wire to Natchez to her family to tell them she had been found and then he ordered a squad to North Platte to accompany the coach all the way to Omaha where her mother and father would meet them to take her home.

Life had changed for Hannah. She was no longer the devil may care free spirit. She was withdrawn and morose. After three months with her family she had started to seem better but if they asked about her experience she would regress so they finally quit asking about what happened. Would Hannah live out her life mentally ill? It was not much of a life but she was alive.

After the war, Natchez had started to come alive again. The river was crowded with boats moving goods both north and south. It was also a time of retribution as Yankees with a grudge and some money were attempting to buy up anything they could from the desperate Natchez business men. They tried to buy the brick works but it was not for sale. They had little success in Natchez.

The cotton plantations were suffering as the crops were dwindling in production and the cost of paying labor to pick the cotton was overwhelming many of the plantation owners. Hardly a week went by without the notice of another plantation going bankrupt. A professor from the agricultural college tried to tell the plantation owners that they couldn’t plant cotton year after year. The cotton was depleting the soil of the nutrients needed for the cotton to grow. He told the planters that they needed to plant alfalfa to put nitrogen back in the soil. The fields needed to have the alfalfa every three years to get the production back. The plantation owners scoffed at this. There was no money in alfalfa. What would they do with that as a crop. They continued to plant cotton and they continued to have lower and lower yields. Natchez was in a bad way but not as bad as some of the other river towns.

The citizens of Natchez knew that something terrible had happened to Hannah but no one knew what that was. They only knew that her husband had been killed by some savage Indians and that she had been found by some other Indians as she was wandering on the prairie. Everyone was very solicitous towards Hannah as she was one of the town’s favorite citizens before the trouble. Hannah’s family tried to be helpful. Her three sisters tried to help. One of them took her almost every day on some meaningless excursion. Either shopping or to some garden party or just for a walk. None of that meant anything to Hannah. She continued to be mute and uninterested. She was uninterested in her appearance. She would put on the same clothes every day for a week and didn’t think about bathing. Finally her mother took over that part of her care. She took away the dirty clothes each night and laid out fresh clothes for her to put on in the morning. She saw that Hannah bathed regularly and washed and combed her hair. Hannah didn’t care. It made no difference to her.

Her family warned everyone not to ask her what happened or Hannah would go further into her shell. As they went around Natchez with her sisters, everyone was friendly to Hannah and didn’t query her as to her problem. They just smiled and said pleasant things.

One day a riverboat coming from Cincinnati stopped and a young man in his early thirties got off the boat. He was a doctor and had the intention of opening a medical practice in Natchez. Natchez only had one doctor and he was getting old. Three doctors from Natchez had been killed in the war and the need for more doctors was urgent. The word had gotten out and that is what brought Doctor Charles Welhausen from Cincinnati.

Doctor Welhausen had gotten his medical training in Germany and Austria but was looking for a new adventure and that is what brought him to America. He went first to Cincinnati as that was a large German community. It was also very staid and formal and too much like Germany for Doctor Welhausen. He had heard stories about Natchez and the riverboats and the excitement of Natchez and decided that is where he wanted to be. Doctor Welhausen had studied at some fine universities in Germany and had spent some time in studies in Austria. One of his classmate studying neurology and psychiatry was a young man named Sigmund Freud. Doctor Welhausen was very interested in psychiatry and had learned to hypnotize patients to get them to open up.

It didn’t take long for the citizens of Natchez to become friendly with Doctor Welhausen as the doctor was a man with a pleasant demeanor and a fun loving way. In fact, the people didn’t think that Doctor Charles Welhausen was appropriate for such an individual and decided that he would be Doctor Charley and from that time on that was all any one called him. Doctor Charley started treating the Benbrook family for any of the assorted aches and pains and diseases.

Hannah was feeling ill. She had been vomiting and had a fever so her Mother took her to see Doctor Charley. Doctor Charley had heard stories about Hannah but this was the first time he met her. He tried to examine her but Hannah would not let him touch her. He did take her temperature and her mother described her symptoms and he felt sure it was a simple case of flu and she would be better in a few days. He gave her mother some medicine to control the fever and they left. During the entire episode Hannah had not spoken.

The case of Hannah was intriguing to Doctor Charley. He hadn’t had an opportunity to consider his training in psychiatry during his stay in Natchez. The practice was pretty hum drum and unexciting with just a few surgeries and amputations. He got out his books and started to do some research of other cases that were similar to Hannah’s case. He called on her father to learn more about what had transpired. No one knew what had happened to cause Hannah to react in this manner. Doctor Charley asked for the father’s permission to treat Hannah and to try some alternate techniques to see if they could bring her back to where she once was. Mr. Benbrook was unsure and wanted to discuss it with the family. The sisters were all in favor of trying anything that would bring back the fun loving Hannah. The Mother was unsure as she was afraid that Hannah would regress further but finally agreed to let Doctor Charley try.

Hannah was brought to Doctor Charley’s office and the two of them went into a small room that had been darkened and Doctor Charley proceeded to hypnotize Hannah. He asked Hannah what had happened on the trip with Clifford. At first she was happy and told of the good times they had in Lincoln and in York. He asked what had happened after York and Hannah started becoming extremely distressed and screamed and said they killed Clifford. She was in an extreme emotional state and the doctor decided it was time to end the session. He asked her some inane questions to bring her back from being distressed and then took her away from the hypnotic state. Doctor Charley thought the session had been positive and so advised the family and requested that Hannah be brought back in a week.

At the next session, Doctor Charley took her immediately to the crash of the stage and asked what happened next. Hannah said they took her from the stage and were going to kill her as they killed the others but one of the Crow said they should take her with them. Hannah was frightened all over and was in a highly emotional state so Doctor Charley again thought it time to end the session and again brought her back from the emotional state but this time told her that she could speak with people but did not have to answer questions. He ended the hypnotic state and Hannah awoke and immediately asked for a glass of water. Those were her first words except when she was hypnotized. Doctor Charley again advised the family of the progress and the family was delighted that Hannah would now talk but they were warned not to ask Hannah any questions. Another meeting was set for the next week.

At this session, Doctor Charley immediately went to where the Crow had taken her and asked what happened. Hannah started thrashing about and crying and trying to hit but was swinging at the air. She said for them to stop but they wouldn’t stop. They kept on and on every night. Doctor Charley asked what they wouldn’t stop and Hannah screamed that they raped her and raped her and raped her. Hannah was tearing at her clothes and hair and Doctor Charley decided he had to stop. He had the answer and now he needed to find how to help her to overcome what had happened to her. He again calmed her with inane questions about her childhood and other trivia and then he suggested that she could talk about what happened to her if she wanted to. He then terminated the hypnotic trance. When she came out of the trance Hannah started crying and shaking and the Doctor held her until she calmed down.

No more hypnosis was necessary. Now Hannah needed a trusted friend that she could talk with and be reassured that what happened was not her fault and that she had to put it behind her. She was blameless in this incident and no one would think less of her if they knew what happened. Doctor Charley spent many hours with Hannah working through her situation. He also realized that he was getting very fond of Hannah. They taught in medical school that young women often fall in love with their doctor. They didn’t teach that a doctor could fall in love with a patient. It was happening and they only way that Doctor Charley could stop it was for him to quit treating Hannah but she was making such great progress that it wouldn’t be fair for him let his emotions hinder a patient getting well.

What Doctor Charley didn’t know was that Hannah was developing strong feelings for Doctor Charley. She thought maybe it was because he was trying to help her. She hadn’t had any feelings for so long that it was strange to her. What should she do? Should she tell Doctor Charley about her feelings? Hannah decided that she had to be honest so she told Doctor Charley about her feelings and asked if that was a problem. Doctor Charley was delighted and decided that the two of them should talk with her family to see how they felt. The family asked them if the feelings would last or was it just emotions of the moment. They didn’t know and decided that it was a valid question. They decided that they should continue the treatments on a professional level and not let the emotions be a factor.

Love continued to blossom. The more time Hannah and Doctor Charley spent together the more they fell in love. The family was delighted to find that they would have their Hannah back and would welcome a son-in-law. Clifford would always have a place in her heart but Charley would be with her forever. Hannah was not quite her old self. She was older and wiser and had seen too much of life to ever be the fun loving little girl she once was but she was also more beautiful in her growing maturity. She had regained her self-assurance and was now ready to make a life with Charley.

Natchez was still in the throes of the post civil war depression. The cotton plantations were still suffering. The river traffic was back to normal but not many boats had a need to stop in Natchez. Most of the passenger boats made stops in Natchez but the barges and commercial freight boats passed Natchez by on the way to either Memphis to the north or New Orleans to the south.

The social life of Natchez had changed. Prior to the war, the pecking order for the young ladies of Natchez was very structured. After the war the pecking order disappeared. The young ladies that had been the princesses of society were now at the same level as all the other young ladies. The annual cotillion for the debutantes was still held but not many girls were interested and attendance had fallen to a level where it was considered a waste of time and money.

The ladies of the Benbrook family were doing very well. The family matriarch was Hedda Benbrook, mother of the four Benbrook ladies. The oldest of the daughters was Harriet. Harriet had married Edward Calhoun. The Calhoun family owned one of the larger banks in Natchez and Edward was now the president of that bank. The next oldest daughter was Heloise. Heloise was one year younger than Harriet. Heloise had married Thomas Bradford. Thomas was the son-in-law that was running the Benbrook Brick Works. The next oldest was Hazel and Hazel was eighteen months younger than Heloise. Hazel was married to John Lee. John Lee was one of the brightest young lawyers in Natchez. The baby of the family was Hannah. Hannah was fifteen months younger than Hazel. Hannah and Doctor Charles Welhausen had been married a little over a year. Hannah and Charley were disappointed that the damage done to Hannah by the Crow Indians had left her unable to bear children. Hannah had always wanted to be a mother. Charley convinced her that being alive was more important and they would have to accept the situation.

Hannah’s sisters had children. Hannah and Charley were aunt and uncle to twelve children. Harriet had five and Heloise had three and Hazel had four. All together there were 6 boys and 6 girls. The oldest was a girl of twelve and the youngest was a little boy of six months. Hannah adored all of her nieces and nephews and they all loved her and Uncle Charley. The families were together every Sunday for dinner and play time. They also spent a lot of time together during the week, especially the ladies when the men were at work. They were a very close family. The entire family loved Doctor Charley for what he had accomplished in helping Hannah get past the trauma she had endured. It was not difficult to love Charley as he was a man with a vivid imagination and a lively sense of humor. He told the children stories about Europe and all of the things that he had done as a boy in Germany. Some of the stories were probably exaggerations but no one cared as the stories were fun to listen to. He liked to rough house with the boys and gave attention and caring to the girls.

All four of the families lived within a five minute walk of each other. They were all on the same street as the familial home so it was easy to be together. All of the mothers knew that if the children weren’t at home they were at an aunt’s house. Usually they were with Hannah. Hannah was the aunt that had the most time for them. She taught the girls to sew and cook and she helped the boys with projects. Hannah loved having the children with her.

Harriet and Edward had to make a trip. There was a meeting of bankers in Memphis that Edward needed to attend. The meeting would enable him to meet others in the banking business and also to learn some new ways of financing. He was excited that Harriet would be going. Since they had married they had never taken a trip together. The children started coming and it got too complicated to go away together. When Edward had to go to Jackson or Vicksburg or New Orleans he went alone. Harriet asked Hannah if the children could stay with her while she and Edward were away. They would be gone about two weeks. Hannah was delighted to have the children stay with her all the time and not have to leave for bed or dinner. She was sure that they would have a great time together. Edward and Harriet got ready to leave for Memphis. They were taking a very nice paddle wheel boat to Memphis and another paddle wheeler coming back to Natchez.

The year was 1871. The accident is still talked about. It was one of the major tragedies that happened on the Mississippi River. The trip was going well. Many of the passengers were resting in their staterooms prior to the serving of dinner. Unknown to the captain of the boat, a barge carrying walnut logs from Tennessee had overturned and the entire load was thrown into the water. The logs were large logs of about twenty feet long and eighteen inches in diameter. Walnut is a very dense wood and the logs did not ride on the surface of the river. Just a small part of the log showed above the water so it was easy for the lookout to miss. All the boats on the river had a lookout to watch for floating obstructions. By the time the lookout spotted the logs it was too late to do anything. Three of the logs hit the boat in the squared bow and punctured the hull of the boat. The boat started taking on great quantities of water and the ship was sinking. The crew made a valiant effort to warn the passengers and a few got off before the boat sank.

It was unfortunate that the stateroom of Harriet and Edward was in the bow and just above where the logs punctured the hull. The boat started sinking bow first and Harriet and Edward had no chance to escape or even be warned. Sixty-five people died in the tragedy. Ten of the dead were the crew, mostly those stoking the fires to keep the boilers putting out steam. Fifty-five of the dead were passengers.

The news spread rapidly up and down the Mississippi. When word reached Natchez, the Benbrook family was devastated. There were other Natchez citizens on the boat but the Calhoun’s were the most notable citizens that lost their lives that dreadful day. The owners of the boat were able to drag the boat to shore where they could go into the boat and bring out the bodies of the dead. Edward and Harriet’s bodies were brought to Natchez for burial.

The funeral was a somber affair. The attendance was huge as the couple had many friends, family, and business associates. The five children of the dead couple came to the funeral with the rest of the family. They were resigned to the loss of their parents. At first, they had been inconsolable but Hannah and Charley had spent time with them helping them to understand that, while they would miss their parents, life would go on and they had to go on.

After the funeral the family gathered to discuss what they needed to do for the children and what would be best for the children. Everyone agreed that the children should continue to stay with Hannah. She had given them love and compassion and everyone saw that the children responded very well to Hannah and Charley. Hannah would miss her oldest sister. Harriet had been very supportive of Hannah when Hannah had her problem and Hannah had responded with love. Hannah and Charley loved the three girls and two boys and were happy to have them in their home.

Hazel’s husband John came to the home to discuss what could become a problem as time went on. He pointed out that Charley and Hannah had no legal claim to the children and this could present a problem. He advised that the best thing for the children would be for Charley and Hannah to adopt the children. This would give them a legal claim and would assure that the children would have continuity in their lives.

Hannah, Charley, and John went to the home of Edward’s parents to discuss the problem with them. Edward’s parents were good people. After John discussed the problems that could arise they were quick to agree that the children should be adopted by the Welhausens. There would be no opposition to the adoption. Hannah and Charley told them that, as grandparents, they would be able to spend as much time with the children as they wished.

John Lee drafted a brief and went to the courthouse to file a motion allowing Charles and Hannah Welhausen to adopt the five children of Edward and Harriet Calhoun. A hearing was set and on the day of the hearing the courthouse was packed with people that agreed that this move would be best for the children. The judge heard from the Calhoun family and from Hannah and Charley. He even asked the two oldest children if this is what they wanted. Since there was no opposition to the motion it was granted and the five children now had a new last name; Welhausen. They all went home as a big, happy family. Harriet and Edward would be forever in their thoughts but a new beginning was taking place.

From the time of Hannah’s deepest despair when she was alone on the prairie in Nebraska, after the Indians had left, to the current time her life had made a complete turn. She now had what she wanted all of her life. She had a husband that was a good man and a man that loved her with all of his heart. She had five children that she adored and children that loved her deeply. While she did not bear the children she could not have loved them more. She was surrounded by people that cared for her and loved her. She missed her sister Harriet but life does go on and Hannah was ready to go on.

Life was good.

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