Hello, Pauline

Celia and Pauline Amsel
Pauline Amsel, left. Her mother, right.

I spent 5 years researching  the life of Pauline, my 14 year old second- cousin, murdered in Durant, OK  in 1914.

Her murderer was never found.

Though I had  found relevant census records (some from Oklahoma, Indian Territory), personal remembrances, court and realty

records,  school records, and statewide newspaper accounts of her gory end,

I found   neither death nor coronary records.  Nor  did I find a photo of Pauline.

Pauline died in 1914–a hundred years ago.

All of Pauline’s immediate family have long since passed.

Today,  many  of   her  distant cousins  do not even know of her existence.

No one had a photo.

I became absolutely obsessed.

Many a time, I imagined  her life–a young, pampered only child, the only  Jewish girl  among

Gentiles in this small town, daughter to a  Slovak immigrant father and a Louisiana-born mother with roots in Alsace-Lorraine,

living in a huge house, studying piano and home economics, well on her way to becoming an exemplary young woman of the time.

I  imagined her death– slit across the throat, bleeding to death in the dark of night.

But I couldn’t imagine how Pauline looked.

Then, yesterday– 10 years after  my initial research–  a Dallas cousin, cleaning out her attic, came across this photo.


An aside: a woman who had later grown up in Pauline’s house– in her bedroom,  in fact– revealed  that the  girl

had “visited” her time and again, explaining the circumstances of her death.  On seeing a photo of  ME, she said,” That’s her.”

God works in mysterious ways.