Friday, March 2, 2012

The Deaths of Belle Hawley, Charles Varney & the Pop Corn Man, Thomas Berwick

Mrs. Belle Hawley was seemingly always at the cusp at having it all: love, money, health and happiness but couldn't quite get there.

She had modest wealth and a marriage to a well-to-do saloon keeper Edward Hawley but couldn't keep him. After dying in a barroom brawl with his brother James, Hawley left nothing to his erstwhile wife.

A frequent occupant at the County House along with her sister Mary Glenn she had been let out of the facility a few weeks before her untimely death. Though seemingly afflicted with heart troubles she chose to be healthy over cared for and died from an aortic "aneulism" after ignoring the doctor's office for the comforts of the Continental hotel at 55 Cadillac Square.

She had blamed her sickness on an accidental poisoning but an autopsy said otherwise. She was 45 years old (according to a barely legible death certificate at

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Charles Varney wasn't unlike many a pauper who died homeless and nameless at the County House only to be further maligned with a cold dropping in the potter's field and summarily forgotten. This isn't exactly a memorial but at least it's a fair recording of the man.

Here's his death certificate as well:

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While vagabonds like Charles Varney's name have been lost to the annals of time Popcorn Tommy's will be shouted from rooftop's until the end. All right, so they've both been long rusted, busted and dusted but let's not let it put a damper on remembering a guy who sold popcorn to the lucky few around old Eloise. Mr. Berwick, a 75 year-old inmate for the last 7 years of his life was struck dead by an Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti train on April 13, 1900, that he either didn't see or misjudged as it passed the asylum. A bottle of whiskey nearby his body may have had more to do without his accident than rightful error but his injuries and subsequent death won't change the fact that he was the Pop Corn Man of Eloise.

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