I think I have located enough pieces of the Dr. Lee puzzle to warrant a review. There are clearly two ladies using this name, but where does one stop and the other start? Let’s see if I can put the picture together.
I am leaving the post up because it contains information that is still useful and accurate. Please see my more recent review of the subject here.
My first encounter with the name Lee-o-netto was the 1920 death notice of Henry Isaac Kanistanaux in which she is listed as his sister of Allegany, NY. The obituary for Caroline A. (Kanistanaux) Horton in 1831 also lists Dr. Lee-o-netto of Allegany as her sister.
Census records where located for her in Allegany, Cattaraugus Co., in 1920 and 1930, as expected based on the information in the death notices of her siblings. Using her census age provides a birth year of about 1869 and a location of New York.
Her sister Carrie was born about 1857 and brother Henry/Isaac was born about 1859, both in Canada. Then a gap of 10 years before Dr. Lee and another gap of 5 years to the youngest, William born about 1873 in Canada (who survived Henry & Carrie but is not mentioned in their death notices!). Dr. Lee is the only one born in New York and she is not found with her presumed family in 1875 (at age 6) or in 1880 (at age 11). Where is she?
The census records show her to be a single woman. She is identified as “Indian” and as a Medical Doctor. She owns her home which is valued at $9000 (rather significant in 1930). I found no trace of her death.
I believe I found a picture of
this younger Dr. Lee on Playle’s Online Auctions website. I am trying to contact the buyer to get permission to use the picture here, but after several weeks I have not had any response.
This is the most puzzling part of this mystery.
Where is Lee-o-netto before 1920 and why is she never found with her family? Oh, and what is her real name? I am quite certain this is not the name she was given at birth, but a name she has assumed. It will clearly take more research to un-puzzle the younger Dr. Lee. Aside from checking with the Allegany town clerk for records, locating property records is another lead I can follow.
The elder Dr. Lee-o-netto was first discovered in a very colorful biography published in 1893 which I posted about a few weeks ago. At the time of the biography she was living in Machias, NY.
I found her in the 1892 State census living with her husband, Charles Dodge, and right next to Layton & Marleah in Stockton. This was in February. She was also found in the 1900 Census at Pomfret, NY with her husband. I have not located her in any other census. I did find what appears to be her husband boarding in Jamestown, NY in the 1910 census and listed as “divorced”. I have not found any record of their marriage, divorce, or her death.
Based on her biography and information from census records, she was born in the mid 1840s in Canada and has never had any children. She was married to Charles J. Dodge, a house carpenter, about 1888. She is listed as white and her occupation is Doctor and Doctress.
She has been as illusive in public records as the younger woman. But, she does appear in newspapers and those appearances help to fill in some details.
In the June 1882 issue of the “Roman Citizen”, Rome, NY, I found an ad which I am still trying to understand. It begins “THE ROME PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION offers the following accounts for sale”, followed by a list of about 35 names, each followed by an amount ranging from $1.20 to $178, but most are under $10. One of the names on the list is “Mrs Lee-o-netto, Indian Doctress ….. 5.87”. I have contacted a couple of historians, but no one has an explanation for this ad beyond the idea this is an insurance company. I don’t know if they are selling good accounts or trying to get rid of poor accounts. I don’t know if the amount represents an asset or a debt. Another thing I can not determine is if she needed to be living in or near Rome to have an account with this association or if it was perhaps a state or regional association. If any of my readers have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.
This Rome ad can not be referring to the younger woman, who would have been only about 13 years old. So, with this ad I can clearly establish the use of the unusual “Lee-o-netto” name with it’s specific spelling and hyphenation by the older woman. This ad also suggests a possible prior marriage, since it appears she married Charles Dodge about 1888 and she is styled as “Mrs.” in this 1882 news clipping.
I found her as “Madame Lee-O-Netto, the celebrated Indian Doctress” and occasionally as “The Indian Doctress (Lee-O-Netto)” in newspapers beginning in 1888 and ending in 1892. These ads are brief, providing her name, mention she specializes in ladies problems, and provides the dates and locations where she can be consulted. I see nothing to suggest she is providing entertainments. Once again I want to remind my readers that I am confined to what is available online, so I may not have a complete picture.
Madam Lee-O-Netto.The Indian Doctress will be at the following places for the treatment of all Chronic Diseases, Ladies a specialty consultation free. Re-visit every 30 days
North Collins, June 27th
Hamburg, June 29 and 30 (Kopp Hotel)
Orchard Park, Jule 1st
Springville July 2d
I believe these ads are for the older woman, but it is remotely possible they are for the younger woman (who would be about 18 when the ads begin). I doubt they refer to both, since there is nothing that would allow the public to differentiate between the two so far as I can see. They begin about the time the older woman married Charles Dodge and they end in 1892, when a January real estate notice shows “Leonetta, the Indian doctress, of Buffalo, has purchased a residence at Machias”. The address was Franklin Avenue. Later in the same year there is a notice she has added a room to the house. In February of this same year, 1892, she appeared with Charles in the Stockton census.
It appears she and Charles were in Buffalo, before going to Stockton for a brief stay, then moving to the newly purchased Machias property sometime after February. The stay in Machias appears to have been short lived, since she is found at Pomfret with Charles for the 1900 Census, then disappears from records.
Where was she living before 1892 and after 1900? The 1892 real estate notice suggests she was from Buffalo. This is probably where I should start my search for her marriage record. I should try to locate real estate records for the Machias property and the Pomfret property to see if they give me any clues. If only Charles had an unusual name, I might have luck tracking him, but there are too many by that name and I don’t have enough data yet to separate him from the others.
Pomfret is a name I recall from researching Henry/Isaac Kanistanaux. He is found there from the 1905 Census (just after she disappears) to his death in 1920. I need to keep this in mind since it is possible he purchased or inherited his residence from Dr. Lee. I might find her
death record or divorce record at Pomfret.
I have one final news appearance for the name.
At this time, I think it is referring to the younger woman, but the older Dr. Lee is possible. The date is September of 1915 and it shows a real estate purchase in Olean by “Lee O’Netto”. Allegany and Olean are right next to each other, which is why I think this is the woman found at Allegany in 1920. Another bit of evidence is the name variation “Lee O’Netto” which is also the spelling found in the 1920 Census at Allegany.
So far, I have found nothing concrete to connect the elder Dr. Lee directly to any known member of the Kanistanaux family. The only connection is the Machias biography that states her father was “Kanistanaux”. There is also the fact they are next door to each other in the 1892 Census. In her biography she also mentions she is the granddaughter of “Natalac”, suggesting she is a sister or cousin to Marleah Kanistanaux, whose mother was “Mr-tal-ic-awk”. Marleah’s father appears to be Eli Moulton, who should not be a Kanistanaux, so perhaps Marleah and Dr. Lee (the elder) are cousins.
It seems unlikely they are sisters. I am pretty certain Catherine Moulton is the mother of Marleah. Catherine was born about 1793, based on her age at death. Marleah was born about 1826, when Catherine was approximately 33 years old.
The elder Dr. Lee was born about 1846, when Marleah was 20 and Catherine was 53. Age 53 is a bit old to be having kids, but not impossible. This does suggest another possibility, perhaps the elder Dr. Lee is a daughter of Marleah by a previous husband.
Seems to be plenty of additional research required before this puzzle comes into focus, but I have found a few clues to follow as I explore the ladies further.
Do you have any information to add or questions?
Please leave a comment.
Copyright ©2012 Ne-Do-Ba – All Rights Reserved