Frequently Asked Questions

How are you related to Lucy/Joe?

I am a second cousin, twice removed, so rather remotely related.

How did you come by the story?

My original plans to do a dissertation on some piece of Medieval literature fell through and I was scrambling for a new topic when my Aunt Eadie put a copy of Lucy's book, The Narrative of the Female Hunter of Delaware and Sullivan Counties, in my hand. After reading it I discovered that Sue Shields, the woman who ran the office of my apartment complex was a distant cousin of mine, and Lucy's great-great-granddaughter! She loaned me pictures of Lucy and the parts of the story that she had found through her research. Those items got me on my way and honed my interest in finding the rest of the story.

Everyone else writing about Lucy refers to her as a woman and/or lesbian. Why do you insist Lucy was a man?

Because Joe insisted he was a man. After leaving his parent's house in 1854, he lived the rest of his life as a man named either Joe or La Roi, despite the trouble it brought him. He insisted on wearing men's clothes, and doing work traditionally performed by men. An article written by his doctor, Dr. P. M. Wise (a sexologist at Willard Insane Asylum) presents Joe's words stating he was "a man in all that the name implies" (P. M. Wise, "A Case of Sexual Perversion", p. 88). In this article Joe's doctor sites twice more Joe's words about being a man. While Joe was alive and for almost 100 years after his death, people have been calling Joe a woman despite his dogged persistence in living a man and telling people he was a man. He continued to wear men's clothes, call himself Joe, and insist he was a man to the doctor in the insane asylum who had the power to set him free. In light of such determination and loyalty to himself, I feel referring to him as a woman is an act of identity piracy which reinforces cis-sexist definitions of people, disempowers transgender people, and robs them of their right to name themselves.

How did you find Joe's grave?

The Binghamton Psychiatric Center (formerly the insane asylum) had the grave number recorded and a woman working there gave me a tour of the old graveyard. Many of the metal markers are broken or gone, and since bodies were not buried always buried in any kind of systematic order, the exact location of Joe's grave is not known with 100% certainty. The place I located is a best guess based on the surrounding markers that do have identifying information.