The Case of the Missing Poet
Decatur Daily News, Decatur, Il, Thursday, 30 July 1914
WRITER OF VERSE DIES
Miss Callie Harcourt of Chestnut, well known in this locality for her writing of verses, died suddenly Wednesday morning at her home.
That’s all the researcher knows. His original question was why couldn’t he find her listed at Laenna Cemetery in Chestnut.
Callie’s father Stillwell, who was still alive at the time of Callie’s death, is buried there. He died July 11, 1926. Also buried at Laenna are G. W. and Caroline Harcourt. The dates on their stones would lead me to think they are Stillwell’s parents, Callie’s grandparents. Caroline died in 1922, days short of her 88th birthday. Callie clearly had surviving family members.
A search of my records seems to indicate Callie is not buried at Laenna nor anywhere else in the county.
Upon inquiry, the research stated Stillwell was a piano tuner and salesman for the Kimball Piano Company in Chicago. He held a number of patents for improvement to the piano. The mother is not buried at Laenna with the father or elsewhere. Mercedes or Martha, as she sometimes went by, disappeared from family records about the same frame as Callie’s death. Phillip, Callie’s brother was born in Chicago; Dorothy, her sister, as born in Missouri; Callie was born in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The Stillwell Harcourt family moved a great deal at the turn of the century. Callie’s siblings are not buried at Laenna.
It would seem there was a divorce — or at least Stillwell and Mercedes split — about the time of Callie’s death. Perhaps it was the precipitating event.
Death certificates were not mandatory in Illinois until 1916.