Others in the Letters

Besides those people to whom JLN wrote letters that survived, there are also other people mentioned in the letters. She often wrote of friends and acquaintances by their initials, and therefore, many are not identifiable. Still, among those we have identified, one finds a larger sense of the communities of friends, acquaintances, and everyday actors in her life.

Frank Walter Callender, 1842-1910

Friend and companion

“Mr. Callender,” as he was called by JLN, or “Mr C” as he was referred to almost always in her letters, was JLN’s closest and nearly constant companion during the last decade or so of her life. By all accounts, Mr. Callender gave to her the “protection” she longed for and filled a small space of her loneliness. Their close relationship was of more than casual interest to many. Callender had been described as her close personal friend, companion, private secretary, and “like a son.” Callender disliked being thought her secretary and tried himself to explain their relationship to Dixon in a letter dated December 15, 1894. More


Elizabeth Mills Chamberlain, 1839-1933

Close NYC friend

Although there are no letters in the McConnell family papers written to Mrs. Chamberlain by JLN, she never-the-less figures importantly in JLN’s life as the friend in whose home she died. According to Mrs. Chamberlain’s court case testimony, their friendship began around 1886, when JLN came to her home, and that of her husband, John Chamberlain, with a check for $5.00 toward the Thanksgiving dinner for the aged and infirm deaf mutes. John Chamberlain was then assistant rector of St Ann’s Church for Deaf Mutes. More

Gavino Gutierrez, 1849-1919

Friend, bellman who rose to prosperity

One of the interesting parts of JLN’s residencies in hotels is her relationship with the people who worked there. One of these people was Gavino Gutierrez, a Spanish immigrant who was employed as a bellhop in the New York Hotel at the time of Sophie’s death. JLN felt connected to him, and appreciated his continued memories of “Miss Sophie,” as he called her. She kept up her acquaintance with him as he became an importer, architect, civil engineer, and surveyor. Along with Vincent M. Ybor, Gavino, as she always called him, was co-founder of Ybor City, in Tampa, Florida. More

Harriet Sophia Zacharie Hardee, 1836-1909

Cousin and Friend

Among JLN’s New Orleans relatives, cousin Harriet Zacharie Hardee, called Happy or Happie, was probably the most unusual. She became JLN’s friend. Her grandmother and JLN’s mother had been half-sisters, and her brother was also the man from whom JLN bought her house at 1224 Fourth Street in 1899. But Happy had had not so easy a life. She had been left a widow with six sons to raise when she realized she must work for her living. She began as an adjuster of metals at the Mint in New Orleans (pictured above), one of the few places to hire white women as workers. She rose to Forewoman of the Adjusters; JLN often addressed letters to her at the Mint rather than her home. Fifteen letters to Happy can be found in the Court Case letters.

Horatio Dalton Newcomb, 1809-1874

Brother and business partner of Warren Newcomb, JLN’s husband

JLN’s husband, Warren Newcomb, was one of nine sons and three daughters born to Dalton and Harriet (Wells) Newcomb in Barnardstown, MA. Another son was Warren’s twin brother, Wesson. However, it was their oldest born son, Horatio Dalton–Warren’s partner in a wholesale grocery business—who is of greater interest to our story. Their father was a successful and well-to-do farmer, a profession that failed to interest either Horatio or Warren. More

Ida A. Slocomb Richardson, 1830-1910

JLN’s long-time New Orleans friend

Hailed at her death as one of New Orleans’s most generous citizens, Ida A. Slocomb Richardson was born in New Orleans, and lived all her life in the city. In 1867, she married widower Tobias Gibson Richardson, a medical doctor and teacher. Through him she became interested in supporting Tulane University. Alongside Paul Tulane and JLN, she was called the third founder of the University for her donations to build the medical school, a chemistry building, and a dormitory. She also endowed a chair in botany. More

William A. Robertson, 1859-1929

Chemist and friend

William Robertson of Charleston, South Carolina, was one of two individuals named in the will of Josephine Louise Newcomb. (The other was Alice Bowman.) Very little is known about JLN’s acquainance with him. Robertson was a well-known chemist who tested water quality, as well as cotton products. He worked, along with a Professor Chazal, at the Shepard Laboratory in Charleston, which also functioned as a testing location for students hoping to gain admission to the School of Mines, Columbia College, New York City. In the postcard above, he wrote to JLN of a return from a trip to Europe, noting he is hurrying back to this laboratory. Water purity became a cause for reformers in the early twentieth century, and JLN may have become interested in his work by the reformers she herself knew. Note too the address on the postcard. Letters to JLN often had to go through her brokers since she maintained no permanent address until declaring New Orleans her legal residence in 1899.