gmhTODAY 17 gmhToday Nov Dec 2017 - Page 104

Postcards of Our Past: The Myth and the Miss. Miss Isola V. Kennedy was killed in Morgan Hill over one hundred years ago. Pretty much everyone who has lived in South County knows the story, or do they? Written By Michael Brookman E very community has stories about those who lived there and the remarkable things that happened to them. Call these stories traditions, legends, folk tales or myths; they all share a foundation in truth. We love to share what happens to us and stories can quickly change shape in the re-telling, even in this day of immediate electronic recording. Embellishment and omission are part of human nature. We want to impart our news so that it has the same impact and excitement it had on us. How did we share this news of earthquakes, fi res, train crashes and mountain lion attacks at the beginning of the 20th Century? With postcards! They were the social media of the day from the mid-1870s through the end of WWII. In 1908 alone, we mailed almost 8 times the population of the country in postcards! They were an inexpensive and easy way to share graphic pictures of people, places and events and add one’s own thoughts on the back. Two postcards have been identifi ed that add to the story of the lion attack in Morgan Hill, but fi rst a re-cap of the basic legend: Isola Kennedy, a young and beauti- ful teacher engaged to local dentist Dr. Otto Puck, took fi ve of her students to picnic along a creek above Morgan Hill in the summer of 1909. The boys were playing in the water when one of them was attacked by a mountain lion. The children began screaming and Miss Kennedy came running. She quickly pulled a hat pin from her bonnet and began stabbing the beast to save the child. A nearby rancher came running with a shotgun upon hearing the cries and screams. He fi red both barrels at the lion but that had no effect. He went back to his wagon and got a rifl e. He 104 Postcard from the collection of the late Brad Spencer, retired Fire Chief, City of Morgan Hill was able to wound the lion and then fi nally kill it with a shot through its mouth. Miss Kennedy and the wounded boy had been ravaged by the lion’s teeth and claws and were very weak. The boy died soon after the attack. Miss Kennedy’s fi ancé was so upset by her mauled condition that he left town and disappeared. Some say she was so grossly disfi gured that he could not bear to look at her. Miss Kennedy died a day or two after the attack and her mother passed away soon after from grief. Miss Kennedy’s funeral was the largest that Morgan Hill had ever seen. The incident of her brave death was published throughout the state and caught the attention of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union that looked on her as a role model for abstinence from liquor. They were so impressed that they honored her with a lavish tombstone. That’s the story and all of it more or less true. Now, here are the postcard