Who was Luce Dutton?

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

So, in Madison County, New York there is a legend of a woman who was betrayed at the alter by her fiance and sister in the 1800's. After awakening from a fainting spell she wandered the area for 70 years. It is belived that she wore a patchwork dress, flowers in her hair, bundles of her belongings attached to her, carrying a Bible, and avoiding men. There is not much nformantion about her; however, "Grace Greewood" 's account is believed to be the most accurate. Here are two articles from Madison County's historical records. They are attached below.

As soon as I learned about Luce, I intrigued and saddened. This poor woman's story tounched my heart and I have since become slightly obsessed in trying to learn more. I also have been working towards finding a model to help me create some images of the way I image that Luce might have looked or behaved. The past year I have had a few woman vounteer and am very appreciative. A couple days ago I had a session with my friend Lisa and we ventured to a Cemetary in New Woodstock. I am don't know if Luce Dutton ever was in a Cemetary; however, her parents in New Woodstock and it seems possible.

Hammond's 1872 History of Madison County

Cazenovia (chapter IV)

Daniel H. Weiskotten


:756-758> Note d. - LUCY DUTTON, or "Crazy Luce," as she was called, the subject of a number of romantic love tales, lived in Cazenovia seventy years ago. She was one of the daughters of an honest and respectable farmer. She was "winningly rather than strikingly beautiful. Under a manner observable for its seriousness, and a nun-like serenity, were concealed an impassioned nature, and a heart of the deepest capacity for loving. She was remarkable from her earliest childhood for a voice of thrilling and haunting sweetness." So writes "Grace Greenwood," who further tells us that Lucy's sister, Ellen, was a "brilliant born beauty," petted and spoiled by her parents, and idolized by her sister. Lucy possessed a fine intellect, and was far better educated than other girls of her station in the new country, therefore she left home about this period to take charge of a school some twenty miles distant. There she was wooed and won by young man of excellent family, Edwin W------, and her parents gave their approval to the union. It was decided that Lucy should come home to prepare for her marriage, and that her sister should return to the school to take charge of it for the remainder of the term. Lucy's lover brought her home, and on his return went with him the handsome sister Ellen. He was a rather genteel young man, having <:757> some pretensions to fashion, and quite satisfied Ellen's exacting fancy. Utterly heartless as she was, she proceeded to deliberately win his love, regardless of the destruction of the happiness of her sister. Unconscious of the proceedings being enacted in that distant town, Lucy, with a happy heart, perfected the preparations for her marriage, which was to take place in two months from the time she came home. At length the wedding day arrived - Lucy's nineteenth birthday - and Ellen and the bridegroom were hourly expected. But the day wore away, and neither the bride-groom, nor Ellen, the first bridesmaid, had appeared. This episode in the sad story of her life is related affectingly in Grace Greenwood's "Lucy Dutton," which has been generally regarded as the correct version. At evening the anxiously looked for couple arrived. The manner of the bridegroom was somewhat agitated as he tossed off a glass or two of wine, and when sufficiently stimulated for the occasion, he announced that he was already married. Turning to Mr. and Mrs. Dutton he said, "I found I had never loved until I knew your second daughter." Says Grace Greenwood: "And Lucy? She heard all with a strange calmness, then walking steadily forward confronted her betrayers! Terrible as pale Nemesis herself, she stood before them, and her look pierced like a keen, cold blade into their false hearts. As though to assure herself of the dread reality of the vision, she laid her hand on Ellen's shoulder, and let it glide down her arm - but she touched not Edwin. As those cold fingers met hers, the unhappy wife first gazed full into her sister's face, the dilated nostrils, the quivering lip and the intensely mournful eyes, she covered her own face with her hands and burst into tears, while the young husband, awed by the terrible silence of her he had wronged, gasped for breath, and staggered back against the wall. Then Lucy, clasped her hands on her forehead, first gave voice to her anguish and despair in one fearful cry, which could but ring forever through the souls of the guilty pair, and fell in a deathlike swoon at their feet." On awaking from this swoon her friends found that she was hopelessly insane. Her madness was of a mild nature, but she seemed possessed by the spirit of unrest. She would not be confined, and though her parents while they lived, in some measure controlled this sad propensity, on their death she became a hopeless wanderer, and constantly traversed the whole area of Madison county and those adjoining. One informant states that Lucy in 1812, appeared then to be about thirty or thirty-five years of age. Though faded and worn, and sometimes ragged, the marks of beauty lingered about her features and person. She was of scarcely medium height, straight, with <:758> handsome rounded form, which expressed considerable ease and grace in her carriage and movements. Her naturally fair and soft complexion was browned by much exposure, for poor Lucy was always on the tramp. A handsome mouth, lips neither thin nor too full, a delicate Grecian nose, sad-looking hazel eyes, a forehead neither very high nor too low - a perfect feminine forehead, we should judge - formed a face pleasing to look upon, but sadly interesting because of the deeply-troubled expression always there, overshadowing the light of reason. At all times, whether in action or repose, her soft voice gave vent to a low mournful sound-intonations, between the moaning of deep trouble and the audible sighs of abject weariness, or something resembling the moaning of a child in a troubled dream. Grace Greenwood says: "Her appearance was very singular. Her gown was always patched with many colors, and her shawl or mantle worn and torn, until it was all open work and fringe. The remainder of her miserable wardrobe she carried in a bundle on her arm, and sometimes she had a number of parcels of old rags, dried herbs, &c. "In the season of flowers her tattered bonnet was profusely decorated with those which she gathered in the woods, or by the way-side. Her love for these and her sweet voice were all that was left her of the bloom and music of existence. Yet no, - her meek and child-like piety still lingered. Her God had not forsaken her. Down into the dim chaos of her spirit, the smile of His love yet gleamed faintly - in the waste garden of her heart she still heard His voice at eventide, and she was not ‘afraid.' Her Bible went with her everywhere." She had a great repugnance to the society of men, and would climb fences in the - most tedious wintry weather to avoid meeting them. Her friends, knowing this peculiarity, humored her - the men by never appearing to notice her, when in her presence. After wandering thirty years, Lucy Dutton was taken suddenly ill, and was moved to one of her old friends to die. A few hours before dissolution, reason returned, - she awoke, as it were, from a long nightmare. Supposing she had been asleep, she related to her attendant her terrible dream. It was soon revealed to her that her dream had been the sad reality of her life; that she was now old and dying. With a few old friends around her, the services of the Christian religion were administered by a servant of Christ in a manner peculiarly tender and sacred, befitting the occasion, and her lips, which at first joined in prayer, grew still. The prayer began on earth ended in a song of praise, over the other side of the dark valley.

END of Cazenovia in Hammond 1872

Lucy Dutton.


[By request.]

About one hundred years ago, there resided on the west side of Cazenovia lake a family from New England consisting of the parents and two daughters, Lucy and Ellen Dutton. The nineteen beautiful years of Lucy's childhood and girlhood were to be crowned on her birthday by her marriage. The eventful morning dawned, the day passed, and at evening the fickle, faithless lover and the heartless Ellen, who had been supplying Lucy's place as teacher, appeared and announced their marriage on their way to the home where Lucy, the anxious parents, and assembled guests awaited their arrival. The day that had dawned so brightly for Lucy indeed ended in darkness. The knowledge of the perfidy of those she loved and trusted was more than the overwrought brain could bear. The once bright intellect became clouded, and Lucy, "Crazy Luce," as she was called, possessed with a spirit of uneasiness, roamed unceasingly over the hills and through the valleys of Madison and adjoining counties.

Some of the older inhabitants of New Woodstock still remember and describe her as a person of medium height, possessing some traces of beauty, and having a remarkably sweet voice. Her gown, sometimes ragged, was always patched with many colors, and trimmed with balls of yarn. In summer, her bonnet was covered with flowers, which she dearly loved. Her bible, surplus clothing, and bundles of rags and herbs were carried on her arm. Harmless in her insanity, at places where she stayed over night her resting place was perferable the wood-house or cheese room rather than the living rooms if there were men about the house, whom she always avoided if possible.

Mrs. Hammond states in the Madison County History that Lucy Dutton, after wandering thirty years, was taken suddenly ill, and carried to the house of a friend to die. A few hours before death, her reason returned. She awoke from the "long night of years." All the intervening time from her nineteenth birthday was a blank. But it was soon told her that the terrible dream was a sad reality. The sister who had so terribly wronged her, as well as the parents who cared for her during their lifetime, were dead. The recreant lover, with his family, had removed some time before to the west. A few former friends gathered at her bedside, and a Christian minister offered a prayer for the dying Lucy, in which she feebly joined. After a little, the lips grew still, and the sorrowful earthly life of Lucy Dutton was ended.

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