|"The Drunkards Progress: From the First Glass to the Grave"|
Note the woman and child standing under the bridge.
This article has been difficult for me to write. As a genealogist - and a descendant of the main characters - I wanted to do justice to the story. I think we're always looking for "one more": one more vital record, one more news article, one more photo, one more book... one more anything that will shed light on what really happened. At some point, we need to stop looking and just write... which can be harder than it sounds.
And while I'm still looking for one more, I need to just write.
Read The Strong Woman: There's One in Every Family - Part I
* * *
|From "The Daily Times"|
February 25, 2899
Several hours and several bottles later, Andrew and a buddy boarded the train for home. Andrew supposedly got off at the correct stop, but in his intoxicated condition, fell down and spent the night in a snow drift. And it was an extremely cold night – some reports say as cold as 10 below zero. Andrew was badly frozen by the time he was found the next morning (one newspaper reported that he had been frozen to death). His fingers and toes were badly frostbitten, requiring amputation of all of his fingers, and at least one of his toes. He got to keep his thumbs.
Having no fingers would certainly make his job as a tailor difficult, if not impossible.
The temperance movement was in full swing at this time, and there was a law on the books allowing a wife damages against "persons who sold her husband liquor against her wishes, causing him to suffer permanent injury." In March 1899, Louise filed suit against three of the saloonkeepers for $10,000 in damages.
After all, she had warned them. And she meant business.
|From "The Des Moines Leader"|
(Des Moines, IA)
April 13, 1902
On May 3, 1900, after three days of lawyers putting up what was called "one of the hardest fights in the history of Monona County," the jury ruled in Louise Faivre's favor. She was awarded $6,000 in damages, although only two of the saloonkeepers were found guilty.
The saloonkeepers were not going down without a fight, and immediately filed a motion for a new trial.
However, almost two years later, in April of 1902, the Iowa State Supreme Court would uphold the lower court's ruling, and again award Louise $6,000 in damages against the two booze-giving saloonkeepers.
In late November of 1902, Louise would finally receive compensation of $7,123 (the extra $1,123 was for "costs and interest," since the unpaid initial judgment of $6,000 had been due in May 1900).
A drop in the bucket, even for those times.
This trial was watched closely by many people, particularly the liquor industry, and made headlines in newspapers across the country. The case is featured in several scholarly articles and books, including Manhood Lost: Fallen Drunkards and Redeeming Women in the Nineteenth-Century United States(which I received from Amazon.com last week).
|From Manhood Lost: Fallen Drunkards and Redeeming Women in the Nineteenth-Century United States, p. 3|
It is also thought that this case, and others like it, were contributing factors in the passage of the 18th Amendment – Prohibition.
(Interestingly, Iowa was the 31st state out of 46 to ratify the 18th Amendment, doing so on January 15, 1919, almost 20 years after Andrew Faivre's fateful freezing.)
* * *
Needless to say, Louise's life could not have been an easy one. She persevered through what must have been an unhappy marriage, the loss of so many children, her husband's alcoholism, permanent injury and loss of income, as well as 4 very public trials, including one at the Supreme Court level.
When her husband couldn't perform his duties as the "man of the house," she stepped up to the plate.
And oddly enough, through the good, bad, and ugly, she and Andrew stayed together. One Connecticut newspaper reported the headline of "Drunkards Wife Gets Divorce," but that never happened. Census records show that Louise and Andrew were still together, still married, and living in Union County, South Dakota, in 1920.
Only a very strong - and very patient - woman wouldn't have kicked the bum out.
Andrew Faivre died on November 11, 1928, at the age of 75. No mention is made on his death certificate of any illness related to drinking. Hopefully he learned his lesson and gave up the bottle.
Louise died at a hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, on June 15, 1942, at the age of 87. She was still living in South Dakota at the time of her death.
Both are buried together at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City.
* * *
You can bend but never break me
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
"I Am Woman"
By Helen Reddy and Ray Burton
Written for the 100th Edition Carnival of Genealogy: "There's One in Every Family!" Read Part I here.
Copyright © by Elizabeth O'NealPrint this post