Hannah Amanda Sickels

Hannah Amanda Sickels, 1852-1933

Here's a brief primer on Bates-Sickels family history: my great great grandfather Job Durfee Sickels came to the Elsie area in 1847. Great Great Grandfather George Washington Bates II arrived in 1855 (when there were only four log houses in the community). LaMott George Bates had been born in 1847, his future wife Hannah Amanda Sickels in 1852.  (Hannah Amanda was pretty much universally known as "Amanda," except to her most intimate contemporaries, who called her "Mandie.")  Amanda thus lived in Elsie her entire life, the only one of our ancestors to do so.

We have relatively few photographs of Amanda, and here are what we have:

GG Amanda Bates - large print - undated-10 Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated - 2-25 Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated - 3-25 Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated-25
GG Amanda Bates - large print - undated-10.jpg Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated - 2-25.jpg Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated - 3-25.jpg Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated-25.jpg
Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated-27 Hannah Amanda Sickels - age 13 - ca 1865-33 Hannah Amanda Sickels - age 17 - ca 1869-33 Hannah Amanda Sickels - age 20 - ca 1872-33
Hannah Amanda (Sickels) Bates - undated-27.jpg Hannah Amanda Sickels - age 13 - ca 1865-33.jpg Hannah Amanda Sickels - age 17 - ca 1869-33.jpg Hannah Amanda Sickels - age 20 - ca 1872-33.jpg
Hannah Amanda Sickels, later wife of LaMott George Bates - undated-24      
Hannah Amanda Sickels, later wife of LaMott George Bates - undated-24.jpg

We have relatively little documentary evidence of Amanda's life; what we have is shown below:

  • Searching the Internet for references to Amanda, up popped a reference to a quilt given the Michigan State University Museum by my mother in 1985:

Described as:  "Made by friends and relatives of Amanda Sickels in Elsie, Michigan.  This quilt was made for Amanda Sickels for her wedding on 5-28-1873."

  • As mentioned for LaMott, the Allens of Richfield, Ohio, were good friends dating back to LaMott's stay there for training in harness-making in 1862-65.  Mrs. Allen wrote Amanda on 10-26-1896.

  • Amanda gave an address to assembled relatives (and friends?) when her father- and mother-in-law, George Washington Bates, Jr., and Emily (Robinson) Bates celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.  Here is her handwritten presentation.

  • In October 1907, Amanda had an operation for a lump in one breast, an operation that would be considered barbaric by today's standards.  Her sister Emma (Sickels) Hall wrote LaMott, describing Amanda's treatment and recovery.

Richard Bates's comments:

Amanda went to a "quack" in Lake Orion for treatment of a lump in her breast, apparently in 1907. He treated by applying a corrosive paste to the skin which killed the tissue a few millimeters down. The next day, he peeled off the dead tissue and applied another treatment. This continued until he "got to the bottom of things". For the patient, it would be like having the same area scorched with a blow torch, day after day. She survived, so he either killed the cancer or, more likely, it wasn't malignant in the first place.

This was well after the days of anesthesia, so a proper surgeon could have cut the spot out in one operation.

I suspect that Amanda did die of cancer, but it was many years later. I never heard any discussion of her final illness, but I remember once toward the end when Deloss picked her up to carry her to bed and she screamed, probably from bone metastases.

  • In 1918 Amanda and LaMott's son Harold was serving in the Army on the East Coast, expecting to be shipped to France.  He wrote home; following is an extract of interest:

"Just got back from a lecture given by the colonel. He talked to us about character about dangers of vice and wine of france and his last words were, don't disgrace the folks back home. God knows I'll die first."

  • We have Amanda's last letter written Mother (Emily Bates) on 11-13-1933. Less than a month later Mother received this from Grandma (dated 12-6-1933):

    "... I'd better continue and give you the latest news about poor Grandma Bates. Yesterday papa was quite encouraged. Her pain seemed to lessen to the extent that she didn't have to take so much quieting medicine and could eat a little. But today she was worse again. Dr. Hart who came for consultation seems to think there's a kidney stone causing this intense pain. Of course they hope she may pass it, not daring to operate. We all think she can't live long like this so be prepared for news of her departure, anytime."

    She died the next day (I have no record of the exact cause of death, and none is recorded in the Bates family biography; Richard Bates thinks it was cancer).

  • From an obituary:  "Mrs. Bates was a past worthy matron of the Order of the Eastern Star and had been active in the work of the M. E. church, having served for some time as a member of it's board of trustees."

  • After Amanda's death, her son, my grandfather, writing Mother in October 1935:

Yup! I'm just ashamed of myself for not writing you more often. I never thought I would be so slack. I know father [LaMott George Bates] very seldom wrote us -- mother was the standby, writing regularly each week. Sometimes she would be so tired that a zigzag mark across the paper told that she had fallen asleep at the job.

One might say, "On the Computer No One Knows You're Sleeping."


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