Alienist and Neurologist: "Marriages Between Women," November 1902

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"George" Greene and "William" C. Howard

by Jonathan Ned Katz. Copyright (c) by Jonathan Ned Katz. All rights reserved.


An anonymous report in a St. Louis medical journal, the Alienist and Neurologist (1902), cites the discovery of two "cases of marriages between women." One member of each couple dressed and passed through the world as a male, her birth sex undiscovered until her death.


Two recent cases of marriages between women have been disclosed by the death of the alleged "husband" ("George" Greene, a well-known citizen of Ettrick, Va., who died at the age of 75. The wife called in assistance to prepare the body, when deceased was discovered to be a woman. "He" had been born in England, but came to the United States when a child. "He" early exhibited proclivities for male attire to which the family soon became accustomed. "He" worked for several years as a man and married (at the age of 40) a widow. The couple maintained their relationship without discovery until Greene's death, at the age of 75.


"William" C. Howard died in Canandaigua, New York, at the age of 50. The refusal of the "widow" and "children" to permit an undertaker to prepare the body for burial led to a coroner's inquest, which disclosed the fact that "William" was a woman. "William" had early manifested male proclivities. "His" family had been unable to induce "him" to adopt female attire. When a girl on "his" father's farm "he" donned male attire and took up masculine occupation, taking care of horses and cattle and doing chores. The family ceased to remonstrate with her, at length growing accustomed to her male attire and often joking about the attentions she paid her own sex. She escorted girls to parties and spent money on them freely. Finally she "married" a woman named Dwyer and later adopted two children. The couple took a farm near Canandaigua and settled down quietly.


There was nothing especially feminine in either Greene or Howard; while Howard's ancestral family knew the real condition of things, they do not seem to have looked upon the relationship as at all abnormal. This would appear to indicate that the relatives of inverts have a certain tolerance for homosexuality. The influence of training at the indifferent periods in the development of homosexuality is suggested by the Howard case. The donning of male attire for convenient purposes may have stimulated a potential inversion previously latent.[1]



References

  1. Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976), pages 248-249, citing "Marriages Between Women," Alienist and Neurologist (St. Louis, Mo.), vol. 23, no•4 (Nov. 1902), p. 497-99.


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