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Carlotta Perry

Watertown Daily Times, 04/12/2000

 

Carlotta Perry was the pen name of poet Charlotte Augusta Perry, who lived on the corner of Jefferson and Second streets many years ago.  In 1850 when she was 11, her father and grandmother died of cholera.  Between 1850 and the end of the 19th century, Perry became a nationally known and much published poet.  Although she was almost forgotten even before her death in 1914, she was recognized for many years as a noted woman writer and has left a legacy of rich, poignant poetry.

 

She was a teacher in Watertown, but her writing career began in earnest in the 1860s when she began having pieces published in a La Crosse newspaper.  In the 1870s, she began to work and write for the Watertown Democrat.  Sometime after she started writing, she took the name Carlotta and was ever after published and referred to by that name.  Poetry was popular in her era and the Watertown Democrat printed many of Perry's poems as did other state newspapers and national literary magazines.  She also wrote essays and children's literature, as well as news stories.

 

Recognition of her poetry began to grow after she moved with her mother to Milwaukee sometime before 1880.  She wrote for the Milwaukee Sentinel and was the center of a well known group of women writers from Wisconsin.  After her mother died, she moved to Chicago and again taught.  A book of her poems was published in 1888.  She did not write for about the last 15 years of her life.

 

She died on March 4, 1914, and was buried in the family plot in Oak Hill Cemetery, but no headstone marks her grave.

 

 

Carlotta Perry

1840-1914

 

Carlotta Perry was born in Union City, Mich., in the early forties. Her father's name was William Reuben Perry, her mother's maiden name was Louisa M. Kimball. The father was of Quaker descent; the mother of Scotch ancestry.

 

In her early youth she taught school in or near Watertown.  Later she left this employment for a field in which she had a greater interest.  She began to write poems, essays, sketches and stories.  They were sought out as she was herself as subject matter for readings before schools, Literary Clubs and Societies.

 

Her earliest writings were published anonymously in the LaCrosse Republican and Leader. She at once won recognition and later wrote for the Milwaukee papers. In the 70's she was a well known contributor to Harper's, Lippincott's, Scribner's and the Galaxy. When she had gained a marked degree of success she and her mother moved to Milwaukee where she spent nine years writings and in caring for her invalid mother.

 

She died in 1914 after a lingering illness. Her remains were brought to Watertown where without ceremony she was buried at her own request beside that of her mother in Oak Hill cemetery. On one of her visits previously to her mother's grave she composed a poem which is entitled "Her Happier Lot." In it she refers to, Oak Hill cemetery as "That strange city on the hill." Then she describes a scene from the cemetery which is thought to be that of Watertown. It follows in part:

 

Afar the river, like a thread

    Of silver, poured and farther down

Lay fields that had been harvested;

    And Autumn leaves, red, gold and brown,

        Made earth a crown.

And farther still, a city

    Men go about with smiling eyes,

The while their smiles great burdens bear;

    And mingled moans and songs and sighs

        From pale lips rise.

 

Watertown Wisconsin Centennial, 1854-1954, booklet

 

 

 

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Carlotta Perry

 

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History online               Carlotta Perry

 

 

 

Carlotta Perry was the pen name of poet Charlotte Augusta Perry, who lived on the corner of Jefferson and Second streets many years ago.  In 1850 when she was 11, her father and grandmother died of cholera.  Between 1850 and the end of the 19th century, Perry became a nationally known and much published poet.  She was a teacher in Watertown,

 

Kathleen McGwin

http://www.kathleenmcgwin.com/carlotta-perry/all/1/

With her writing experience and ability to glean, sort through and order information, Kathie’s writing can tell someone’s story, inform others about an issue, produce a historical record, clarify your passion, and help you inspire others.

 

 

 

Charlotte Augusta Perry was 11 years old that day in August when she, her two sisters, and her mother watched both her father and her grandmother die of Cholera. The family had been in Watertown for seven years making them some of the first settlers.

 

 

 

 

 

At Last … A Recognition of Poet Carlotta Perry

 

In 1850, Watertown, Wisconsin was a bustling, growing community. This was the “West” to those on the well established eastern seaboard. Hardy pioneers were staking out the new town which would vie for state capitol and boast the first kindergarten in the country.

 

But growth didn’t come without hardship, and diseases like cholera often wiped out whole families. Watertown didn’t escape this fate and on the corner of Jefferson and Second streets in a brick house built by a Vermont settler of Quaker descent, William Reuben Perry, age 48 died after being ill with cholera for 30 hours, followed in death by Elizabeth “Betsey” Kimball, aged 71, after an illness of 16 hours as reported by the local paper, the Democratic State Register.

 

Charlotte Augusta Perry was 11 years old that day in August when she, her two sisters, and her mother watched both her father and her grandmother die of Cholera. The family had been in Watertown for seven years making them some of the first settlers. William is remembered in his obituary as a trusted and respected citizen and “zealous in the cause of education.” The mother and three daughters buried him beneath a white marble headstone in the Watertown Cemetery located on the site of an Indian burial ground.

 

It is tempting for us to think of past generations so used to death or so different from us that they went quickly on with life and forgot loss and trouble. But the higher frequency of death in years past did not dull the pain and sorrow nor lessen the depth of sadness.

 

Standing today on the empty corner of Jefferson and Second Street in Watertown, we may wonder about the grief and fear that must have been felt so deeply there all those years ago. But we can move beyond wondering and know more intimately the lives that loved, wept and laughed on that corner when we read the poetry of Carlotta Perry who, in 1850, was that eleven year old girl, Charlotte Augusta.

 

 

 

At Last

Into her life a brightness, sweet and swift,

Shone with a glad surprise;

Proudly to meet the longed-for royal gift,

She lifted happy eyes.

She saw the light of such a glorious morn,

As never dawned before;

Her heart, to welcome in the strange new dawn,

Flung open wide its door.

The blessed light her weakened spirit through

Thrills of great rapture sent;

For she had walked in shadowy ways, and knew

Full well what darkness meant;

And, as of old, a statue thrilled with song

At rising of the sun,

She felt that in her heart, voiceless so long,

Life’s music had begun.

She heard rare melodies around her roll,

Tender and sweet, as when

The stars of morning sang, and from her soul

Uprose the glad amen.

One little day she walked in perfect light,

And wore it like a crown;

One little day she sang her songs, then night

Sudden and swift came down -

Came down and closed about her like a pall,

And shut out all the day;

Shut out the light, the warmth, the bloom, and all

That made life glad and gay.

And, as of old, at setting of the sun,

On the cold lips of stone

Joy turned to grief, so when her day was done,

She made her bitter moan.

The gloom and darkness all her being through

Pangs of dumb anguish sent;

And darkness was the darker, since she knew

At last, what sunshine meant.

 

Carlotta Perry grew to be a well-known, popular poet, published in the leading magazines of the day including Harper’s, Lippincott’s, and Scribner’s. Her verse was quoted by elocutionists and newspapermen and she was a popular speaker herself. She was a journalist, children’s author, and respected career woman. Admirers wrote to her from all over the country to obtain her autograph and she was identified with the Milwaukee School of Poetry and “western poets” in numerous newspapers and literary reviews. Yet when she died in 1914, having written nary a word for the last 14 years of her life, her funeral cortege from Chicago to Watertown was described in a memorial sketch thusly:

 

“It was on a stormy March day in the spring of 1914 that one of the touchingly pathetic sights of life was witnessed in the cemetery of the pretty little city of Watertown, Wisconsin.

 

Awaiting the train from the City of Chicago stood a hearse and a single carriage. From the train a gentleman and a veiled lady emerged who waited and watched while a coffin, covered with flowers and so small that it might have been that of a young girl, was reverently carried and placed in its sable receptacle. The small funeral cortege wound its way through the storm to the quiet cemetery on the hill, and there in a grave already prepared in one of the oldest family burial lots, was deposited the slight form of one whose name should and will live as one of the sweetest and most musical of America’s minor poets — Carlotta Perry.”

 

After the tragic deaths of her father and grandmother, Carlotta (a popular nick name for Charlotte), her sisters, Caroline and Elizabeth, and her mother, Louisa, continued to live in their home on Jefferson and Second Streets in Watertown. In 1866 an ad for day boarders ran in the Watertown Democrat. “A few gentlemen can be accommodated with Day Board at corner of Second and Jefferson Streets. Mrs. LM Perry.”

Carlotta also became active in supporting the family. In 1858 at 19, the fall term of the Public Schools of the City of Watertown has Miss Charlotte A. Perry listed as Assistant to the Principal of the Intermediate School, East Side of the River. Her sisters, Elizabeth and Caroline, both married, but Carlotta never did. Caroline, who was 7 years older than Carlotta, married George W. Perry. It’s not known if George was part of the same Perry family, but a GW Perry is listed as a cooper on the southeast corner of Eighth and Western Avenue in Watertown in 1866.

In her memorial to Carlotta, Helen Ekin Starrett says that Carlotta’s father was of Quaker descent. A search of early church records in Watertown shows that the family eventually became involved in the First Congregational Church there. It is recorded that Louisa M Perry, Carlotta’s mother, said a Profession of Faith in 1853. George and Caroline had a child, Charles Dana, baptized there in 1859, and at 21 years of age in 1860, Charlotte Augusta was baptized and took a Profession of Faith by Rev. C. Boynton.

Carlotta’s poems were first published in the LaCrosse Leader, but she wrote poetry much earlier than that. Her biography in American Women, second edition, in 1892 credits her with verse at the age of 8 after the death of her father. It also lists her birth date as 1848 when it was actually 1837 or 1838. This may be how in later references, she often is said to be 10 years younger than her actual age. Her work regularly started appearing in Wisconsin and other newspapers in the 1870s and beyond. It was also around this time that she began her journalist career and took a job at the Watertown Democrat newspaper.

Poetry was highly regarded in Carlotta’s time. In the 1870s and 80s, the Watertown Democrat frequently printed poetry on the front page, as did many other newspapers. Poems often considered the state of civilization and man and womankind. In the late 1800s the front page almost always carried columns about moral issues and ethical behavior. Temperance was being extolled, driven by the women’s suffrage movement which saw alcohol directly intertwined with mother and child abandonment and abuse. A review of the topics of front page poems and articles includes vicissitude, neatness, honesty, greed, truth and honor. Carlotta’s poetry ruminates on many of these philosophic questions and tackles deep personal ethical concerns as well.

The Dearer Dead

You mourn for your dead; you go,

Clad in your robes of woe,

To the spot where they sleep—

And you weep

Such bitter tears, and there

You strew flowers, fresh and fair;

You place a white stone at the head,

With the dear name of your dead.

But there are dearer dead, you know

Not the bitterest woe,

Till you close the eager eyes

Of sweet young Hope, and mournful-wise,

Cross the pallid hands of Love,

And sorrowing bend above

The ashes and dust

Of Honor and Truth and Trust,

For these are the dearer dead.

Ah? Those other dead; who dare

Robes of mourning for dead hopes wear?

Who bids a stone arise

To tell where dead love lies?

When did ever a mourner say

Help me bury these dead away?

These funeral trains men do not see;

They move silently

Down to the heart where the grave is made,

Where the dead is laid.

No flowers are strewn there,

No moan is heard there,

No ritual is said

Over their bed,

Hidden away from sight

The grave lies low,

But the solemn, silent night,

That doth know,

And it seeth ever the white

Face of our woe.

You are happy who mourn for your dead,

By the side of graves kept green

By the tears you shed;

Who can lean

Lovingly where they sleep

Pray for those who in secret weep-

The dearer dead.

This was a time between Walt Whitman and Thoreau, the romantics, and Carl Sandburg and Vachel Lindsay, the realists. Carlotta’s poetry is her own, but carries with it much of the deep searching of the soul so prevalent with the romantics. In the 1881 History of Milwaukee, she is described as a “woman of the West, both by birth and the freshness, vigor and breadth of her poetry.” The author goes on to say, “She is thoroughly identified with the life and thought of lake and forest and prairie.”

Close by the fences, in still country-ways,

The plumage of the crimson sumac shines;

From tree and shrub with every zephyr sways

The fairy drapery of scarlet vines…

From An Autumn Day by Carlotta Perry

Her journalism was also praised, as in her description of a trip to the Wisconsin Editorial Association Annual Meeting in Milwaukee. Her article is filled with vivid pictures of visits to “breweries of Best & Co.” and “the Rolling Mills” in Bay View as well as entertainment by the “Blind Orchestra from Janesville” and an address by the “handsomest man in the state,” Mr. W.D. Hoard of Jefferson. Carlotta was a member of the Editorial Association in Wisconsin and was honored by being asked to write and recite a poem for the state-wide convention in 1875. It was printed in full on the front page of the Democrat and praised, but called “a little long” by the reviewer. She again was invited to write and read a poem for the annual convention of the Wisconsin Editorial and Publisher Association in 1881 after which the attendees traveled to Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Recognition of her poetry continued to grow after she moved with her mother to Milwaukee in 1880. In the city directory and in articles about the author, she is listed as living on the northwest corner of Mason and Jackson Streets in a boarding house owned by George Perry. The 1881 History of Milwaukee includes Carlotta as a “gifted poet,” printing her poem Discontent as evidence of her skill.

Carlotta wrote for the Milwaukee Sentinel and by then was “the center of a group of women writers of Wisconsin who were well known to the literary world of the eastern states,” as described in a memorial after her death. This was no small feat especially considering the struggles women faced in receiving any amount of literary recognition. She was successful, though, as the American Women biography says, “The recognition she has always received and the prompt acceptance of her manuscripts have united to give constant encouragement and inspiration.”

In 1883 Carlotta dealt with the death of her mother. She again stood by the white headstone of her father which she’d had moved along with his body from the original burial plot to one in Oak Hill cemetery which she’d purchased the year before her mother’s death. It is the same plot where her sister Caroline and her husband George would be buried as would two now unknown burials, and Carlotta herself would be placed on that cold day in March. After a visit to her mother’s grave, Carlotta penned the poem, Her Happier Lot. It describes the cemetery as that “strange city on the hill” and speaks of people going about their business in the city below-Watertown.

 

And in that city down below,

Men note the yield of yellow grain,

And watch the silvery stream, and know

That blight or bloom or rise or wane

Means loss or gain.

 

In the poem, Carlotta compares the inhabitants of the living city of Watertown to the inhabitants of Oak Hill, the “happier lot.”

 

But here the happy dweller know

Not any burden, pain or loss;

They do not wander to and fro

To hide a hurt or grief or cross

Beneath the moss.

From Her Happier Lot

 

Sometime after her mother’s death, Carlotta moved to Chicago where she continued to write stories, poetry, and articles for local papers. She became friends with Helen Ekin Starrett, a well known journalist in Chicago and owner of Starrett School for Girls. Both women were voted lifetime members of the Illinois Women’s Press Association. The history of the organization written in 1987 describes Carlotta as a member whose “gentle companionship was prized by many.”

 

This kind of description is used frequently about the poet. Milwaukeean Kate Upson Clark, children’s author and editor of the household journal Good Cheer wrote, “her beautiful name matched well her delicate genius. Refinement and a certain dreamy daintiness marked all her work.”

An article about “western literary people” by Henry S. Barnes, describes her as “a curious mixture of frankness and reticence, of shyness and self-praise.” It goes on,” The basis of her character is sincerity…She is not so fond of society as society is of her”

Her career as a poet was highlighted by the publication of a book of her poems in 1888. Dedicated to her mother, the pale blue cloth-bound volume is entitled simply, Carlotta Perry’s Poems. A review of the publication at the time was complimentary. “In these days when the influence of the metaphysical …schools of poetry seems all but paramount, the effect of Miss Perry’s verse is a cluster of field daisies in a mass of hot-house flowers, all the more charming for their surroundings…”

The Nation’s review of her book read, “Carlotta Perry’s Poems show a fatal facility.”

A few years after the publication of her book, The Waukesha Freeman reported in 1894 that “As a poet she is far in advance of other Wisconsin poets….”

During the height of her writing career, in many ways, Carlotta was a reflection of her times. The second half of the 19th century was filled with change, especially for women. Temperance and suffrage were in the forefront and Carlotta’s circle of friends and acquaintances included some of the leading names of those movements. She was independent and active and was appointed to the Author’s Congress for the 1893 Chicago Exposition, a member of the National Editorial Association, Press and Pen, the Illinois Woman’s Press Association as well as the Oh Be Joyful Club of Milwaukee. As a member of the Chicago Exposition Author’s Congress, she worked with other members including Mrs. Potter Palmer and Miss Harriet Monroe. Mrs. Palmer and her husband owned extensive property in Chicago, including the Palmer House Hotel and she was active in women’s trade unions and other social issues. Harriet Monroe was a poet and artist and began Poetry, a Magazine of Verse, in 1912.

Carlotta’s poetry includes verse with themes of animal rights, women’s status, and valuing the contributions of the elderly. A verse about how drink can change a man was quoted often in articles about temperance. At the same time, her writing could be the flowery, flighty verse of the day.

Her collection of poetry tells of her personal life that had its own tragedy and loss as well as demonstrates an independent spirit while being a mirror of her times. The subjects of her poems range from tragedy and how one responds to life’s tragedies, women’s achievements and men’s response to such, love, loss, and moral and ethical choices in living one’s life. She wrote uplifting, easy to remember verse. The Baltimore Sun’s “Bentztown Bard,” Folger McKinzie, always had a Carlotta Perry verse at the top of his column.

“It was only a glad good morning/ As she passed along the way/ But it spread the morning’s glory/ Over the livelong day.”

Her verse was also included in books like The Wit of Women, Capital Stories by American Authors, and The Speakers’ Library. Carlotta’s work was in the company of verse and essays by Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and James Whitcomb Riley.

Carlotta also wrote children’s stories and was published in highly regarded children’s magazines of the time including The Little Corporal, The Galaxy, and St. Nicholas.

Her published collection includes many poems that speak of love. Although childless, she produced a number of poems about the love between mother and child. Her deep love for her own mother is apparent from her years of caring for her mother, to the dedication of her only published book of poetry. It was her mother, as told in her bio in American Authors, who taught Carlotta to sing. Her singing is noted on occasion in found newspaper articles. The loss of her mother was heart breaking to Carlotta as evidenced in this poem.

The Great Gulf

Side by side for so many years-

So close I hear her beating heart,

And yet our souls as far apart

As though we dwelt in different spheres.

Were seas between and leagues of land,

I could bear that with better grace;

But thus to look upon her face,

And thus to clasp and claim her hand

And know, though I would die for her,

That this is all I have; that far

From me as any shining star

Her heart is still a wanderer —

This is death’s pang; what though there rolls

Wide waves between your paths! A thought

Can span that sea, but there is naught

Can bridge the sea between two souls.

There is no evidence that Carlotta ever married, but her poetry is filled with wrenching love poems, some written from the male viewpoint, some from a female/female friendship view, and still others from that of romantic, traditional love relationships. One can only conjecture that Carlotta loved and lost, however that loss came about, in her life time.

What Do I Wish for You?

What do I wish for you? Such swift, keen pain

As though all griefs that human hearts have known

Were joined in one to wound and tear your own.

Such joy as though all heaven had come again

Into your earth, and tears that fall like rain,

And all the roses that have ever blown,

The sharpest thorn, the sceptre and the throne,

The truest liberty, the captive’s chain.

Cruel, you say? Alas! I’ve only prayed

Such fate for you as everywhere, above

All others, women wish,–that unafraid

They clasp in eager arms. So, little dove,

I give you to the hawk. Nay, nay, upbraid

Me not. Have you not longed for love?

And yet, Carlotta also wrote humorous poetry, often making kind-hearted fun of character flaws or character types of the day.

A Modern Minerva

‘Twas the height of the gay season, and I can not tell the reason,

But, at a dinner party given by Mrs. Mayor Thwing,

It became my pleasant duty to take out a famous Beauty–

The prettiest woman present-I was happy as a king.

Her dress beyond a question was an artist’s best creation;

A miracle of loveliness was she from crown to toe.

Her smile was sweet as could be, her voice just as it should be-

Not high, and sharp, and wiry, but musical and low.

Her hair was soft and flossy, golden, plentiful and glossy;

Her eyes so blue and sunny, shone with every inward grace.

I could see that every fellow in the room was really yellow

With jealousy, and wished himself that moment in my place.

As the turtle soup we tasted, like a gallant man I hasted

To pay some pretty tribute to the muslin, silk and gauze;

But she turned and softly asked me-and I own the question tasked me-

What were my fixed opinions on the present suffrage laws.

I admired a lovely blossom, resting on her gentle boson;

The remark I thought a safe one-I could hardly make a worse;

With a smile, like any Venus, she gave me its name and genus,

And opened very calmly a botanical discourse.

But I speedily recovered. As her taper fingers hovered

Like a tender benediction o’er a little bit of fish,

Further to impair digestion, she brought up the Eastern Question.

By that time I full echoed that other fellow’s wish.

And as sure as I’m a sinner, right through that endless dinner

Did she talk of moral science, of politics and law,

Of natural selection, of Free Trade and Protection,

Till I came to look upon her with a sort of solemn awe.

Just to hear that lovely woman, looking more divine than human,

Talk with such discrimination of Ingersoll and Cook,

With such a childish winning smile, quoting Huxley and Carlyle,

It was quite a revelation-it was better than a book.

Chemistry and mathematics, agriculture and chromatics,

Music, painting, sculpture-she knew all the tricks of speech-

Bas-relief and chiaroscuro, and at last the Indian Bureau

She discussed it quite serenely as she trifled with a peach.

I have seen some dreadful creatures, with vinegary features,

With their fearful store of learning setting me in sad eclipse;

But I am ready, quite to swear, if I have ever heard the Tariff

Or the Eastern Question settled by such a pair of lips.

Never saw I dainty maiden so remarkably o’erladen

From lip to tip of finger, with the lore of books and men;

Quite in confidence I say, and I trust you’ll not betray it,

But I pray to gracious heaven that I never may again.

Carlotta continued to write, with more and more of her poetry published in religious magazines like Missionary Tidings and The Christian Standard. Her life was a whirlwind for many years, as reported by the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1885.

“Miss Perry resides at the northwest corner of Mason and Jackson streets, where she has a cozy little study in which she does all her writing. A Sentinel reporter, who gained access to this secluded sanctum, found the authoress literally overwhelmed with her work. The Christmas season, with its extra numbers and special editions of periodicals and newspaper, proves a severe tax upon the writers who have achieved popularity, and Miss Perry has not escaped this penalty. She is now engaged entirely in supplying the various magazines and papers which number her among their correspondents.”

And yet, it seems, her gentle nature and commitment to thoughtful writing that did not sway from her convictions, may have prevented her from crossing over into more lasting fame. An article about Carlotta in the Waukesha Freeman seems to foretell Carlotta’s future.

“Miss Perry is unquestionably much more nearly a true poet than any other of the army of Wisconsin rhymers, but she is so modest and unassuming that we do not always accord her her fair place among her vigorous, practical self-assertive competitors.”

A poem included in her published collection may give us some insight into her nature.

The Unhidden Guest

Within my home that empty seemed, I sat

And prayed for greater blessings. All

That was mine own seemed poor and sadly small,

And I cried rebelliously for that

I had not, saying, if the good that gold

Can bring were mine, journeys in far-off lands,

With rest to weary feet, to burdened hands-

If love, the love I crave, would come and fold

Its arms around me, then would joy abide

With me forever; peace would come to bless,

And life would round out from this narrowness,

Into a fullness new and sweet and wide.

And so I fretted ‘gainst my simple lot;

And so I pined for broader, fairer ways,

Making a burden of the very days,

In mad regret for that which I had not.

And then one came unto my humble door,

And asked to enter, “Art thou Love?” I cried,

“Or wealth or fame? Else shalt thou be denied.

She answered, “Nay, my child, but I am more.

“Open to me, I pray; make me thy guest

And thou wilt find, although no gift of gold,

Or fame or wealth within my hand I hold,

That with my coming cometh all the best

“That thou hast longed for,” Fair, though grave her face;

Soft was her voice, and in her steadfast eyes,

I saw the look of one both true and wise.

My heart was sore, and so, with tardy grace

I bade her enter. How transfigured

Seemed now the faithful love that at my feet

So long had lain unprized; how wide and sweet

Shone the small paths wherein I had been led.

Duty grew beautiful; with calm consent

I saw the distant wealth of land and sea;

And all fair things seemed given unto me,

The hour I clasped the hand of dear Content.

Carlotta didn’t write during the last 15 years or so of her life, however, her work continued to be published. Up until her health prevented it she was a welcomed guest in many homes in and around Chicago. It is there where she died, cared for by a daughter of her sister Caroline who preceded her in death. Her funeral was held at Starrett School for Girls.

When she died on March 4, 1914, she was all but forgotten except to a few close friends and family. People in Watertown who still regarded her warmly did not hear about her burial at Oak Hill until after it was over. A few days after her burial, the Watertown Daily Times printed a short obituary which said, “She taught school for a time and early in life showed a great talent for writing short stories and poems, many of which were published in magazines.” The obituary was printed with the name Miss Charlotta Perry.

Oak Hill Cemetery records list the internment of Charlotte Perry, aged 75, 4 months, 14 days on March 6. Cemetery records describe the cause of death as “Endocarditis” and give the grave fee of $6.00. No friend or relative is listed. The Perry headstone which Carlotta had placed on the family graves stands guard over the Perry family buried there, but no headstone marks Carlotta’s grave.

 

Her last poem is her wish for her legacy.

Parting

Like to a king defeated and all stricken

Low at the feet of conquering Time I lie;

The dews of death upon my pale browns thicken

The mists bedim my eye,

And yet I do not ask a pang to spare me,

I pray not for a longer lease of breath,

Dis-crowned, still a very king I bear me,

And face unpitying death.

Gladly I’ve given to the world I’m leaving,

Its portion from the brimming cup of life;

Triumph, defeat, and love and loss and grieving,

And pain and peace and strife.

Never a lip have I in fondness singled

To press from any bitter goblet’s brink,

Bitter and sweet has been the cup I’ve mingled

And given the world to drink.

Now toll no bells for me-my work is ended;

With writing wisdom I resign my place;

Praying I go by some fond thought attended,

Praying love speed me with its tender grace.

As well for me ring bells in joyful duty-

Going my way beneath the starless skies-

As for that one who comes all grace and beauty,

With a glad promise in his shining eyes.

As some dead King whose reign has been all royal,

Is borne in pomp and state to his last rest,

Rejoices ‘een in death that every loyal

And loving subject bears him on his breast

So I, who at Time’s conquering feet am lying,

Pray blessings on the world as I depart,

Content if in this hour that men call dying,

I rest my head upon the great world’s heart.