Minnie May Baxter was the fifth child of Alonzo and Elizabeth Baxter, like her siblings, born in Bent County, Colorado in 1878. However, unlike her older sister Daisy, I had one heck of a time finding Minnie in the records.
The family was probably living in Trinidad, Colorado when Minnie was of an age to graduate from high school. Her father was a big supporter of education, wherever he lived, so I imagine that he encouraged all of his children to finish high school. Whether or not Minnie graduated from high school is unknown. Perhaps records from that time still exist, and looking for those records is one of the items on my research plan–one of these days.
Minnie would have been 22 years old in the 1900 census, and I can’t find her anywhere. In fact, it took me many research “tries” to find her anywhere. I knew that she had married someone named Thomas G. Sanborn from Pueblo because I had a wedding picture for them that came from my mother’s collection. But when (or where) Minnie and Tom were married escaped me for the longest time. Finally one day I found their divorce record, and from that I learned that they had been married in Raton, New Mexico on 3 Sep 1902. Why Raton? Who knows. It wasn’t because Minnie was underage, because she was 23 years old when she was married. She wasn’t the only one of her siblings to be married in Raton, so there must have been a reason, but so far I haven’t found what it was.
Where was she between the age of 18 when she (probably) left her father’s house and age 22 when she married? My best guess is that she may have been living in Pueblo with either her mother or one of her sisters, but that isn’t confirmed. She’s found in the 1903 Pueblo City Directory, living with her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth O. Baxter. Since both Minnie and Elizabeth were married at this time, what they were doing living together without their husbands is beyond me. Even though her marriage date (from the divorce record, so it’s not confirmed) was Sept. 1902, in the 1903 directory she is Minnie Baxter, working as an “ironer.” Several years later, she’s listed in the same directory and married to Tom Sanborn; her occupation is listed as “laundress, Minnequa Hospital.”
Probably my favorite photo in any of my collections is one of Minnie, taken in the first decade of the 20th century. This came to me in a collection of hundreds of other photos from someone related to one of my mother’s uncles. The photos were all scanned at a low resolution, and my requests to get the photo scanned at a higher res were met with silence. However, I love this photo anyway. That’s a “peach basket” hat Minnie is wearing on her head, and I have a photo of Gertrude Stein wearing the same style hat in 1908 in Venice. Wikipedia says the hat was introduced in about 1908, so that sounds right. I would bet money that if Minnie didn’t make that outfit herself, then her mother, the professional seamstress and milliner, made it for her. From the U.S. Association of Retail Milliners:
The last season proved disastrous, short and unprofitable owing to the launching of extreme styles such as the fruit basket hat. . . a concerted effort has been made to tone down all attempts to introduce freak creations.
Minnie looks hot and seems disgusted in this photo, and I love the way she sits with her knees all akimbo and her petticoat showing. She’s a girl I would love to know!
So maybe Minnie was one of those people who ran from the census-taker, who knows. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t (and still can’t) find Minnie in the 1900, 1910, or 1920 census records. So it was a happy day when I found her mother’s obituary, Mrs. A.H.H. Baxter. This is from the La Junta Daily Democrat, Friday, 1 Aug 1924:
Mrs. A.H.H. Baxter, another pioneer of the Arkansas Valley and one who came to this section more than a half century ago, passed away at 11 this morning in the home of her daughter, Mrs. T.G. Sanborn, 402 Smithland Avenue.
Well–hoorah! My Minnie was living in La Junta [with husband Tom?] and taking care of her sick mother. And it wasn’t long after I posted Elizabeth Baxter’s obituary on Ancestry.com that someone contacted me with a whole cache of photos. Among them were photos of Minnie and her siblings, and I was able to date them because of the apparent age of a little boy I could identify as my mother’s cousin–dated c.1924, the summer that “Granny B” died. It’s reasonable to think that the siblings had all been called home for their mother’s last illness. Minnie is the one on the left with her hands on her hips, elbows out–a very characteristic pose for her. She also has that same half-disgusted look on her face of the earlier photo. Actually, most of the photos I’ve found of her show her looking just that way. She doesn’t seem to have smiled much, at least not for the pictures. Tom Sanborn is the man kneeling down in front of Minnie. Daisy and Tom are at the right. They never had children of their own, but it is very common to see Tom Jefferson pictured with a niece or a nephew–he seems like a man who would have loved to have children. My mother has said many times, without elaboration, as she is wont to do, “Tom and Daisy wanted to adopt me.” I somehow doubt it, since my mother was a spoiled brat, from everything I’ve heard about her. However, I don’t doubt that Tom might have wanted to adopt some child, and I wonder why they didn’t?
So finally Minnie appears in the census, this one 1930 for La Junta, Otero County, Colorado. Minnie is 52 years old and managing a rooming house; Tom Sanborn is working as a “water servicer” for the railroad. Their address is 405 Colorado Ave. in La Junta, a house which no longer exists, unfortunately. They lived right down the street from the First Baptist Church. Did Minnie belong to that church? I would have said almost definitely not, except that her obituary says that Rev. R. O. McCray of the Baptist church conducted her funeral services, which was only six years after the 1930 census. The next time I’m doing research in La Junta, I need to look for those church records.
The next record for Minnie I was surprised and also rather sad to find. I knew that Minnie and Tom weren’t buried together–Minnie in La Junta and Tom in Pueblo–so I assumed there was a reason, possibly divorce. I found it in the Divorce Records for Colorado found on FamilySearch:
The date on the divorce record “Date of Decree” is a bit strange–9 Dec 1936–considering Minnie died on 14 Oct 1936. However, I imagine the divorce was filed some months before the decree date. According to her obituary, Minnie was living with her sister, Leona (Mrs. Max) Lepkovitz in Walsenburg, Colorado at the time of her death. The obituary says that she had been hospitalized for two weeks and she died “after an operation.” Tom Sanborn attended the funeral in La Junta. Minnie was only 58 years old when she died. I’m happy to have found some details of her life, but I would like to know more.
The third Baxter sister of this trio is next, Leona Baxter Glatzel Lepkovitz.