Felicity’s Journal – Eleanor Woodson


January 16, 1863

People have become very busy around here. The doorbell was finished and hung. Rachael used it to say her goodbyes to her father. As with everything done around here it was amazing. Everybody put something together on the piece. I did some painting and I sang some songs that Rachael and Charles transformed into music boxes. Michael created the buildings which held the mechanical devices. Charles had documented all this and passed it on to Mr. Dent and it will be in one his postings later.

Today I will talk about Eleanor Woodson. Eleanor is very tall, thin and Negro. When I asked about her origins, she said her grandparents worked the sugar cane fields of the Bahamas and Jamaica. With abolition, her father’s side took up wood working. Her grandfather started a small cabinet shop in 1840 after his apprenticeship and the family specialized in cabinets for smaller families and homes. In 1850, her father looked at ways to expand and started the factory that is now “Woodson and Sons”. Eleanor grew up around the factory floor, learning all the stations, cleaning and working. She admits she doesn’t have the gift with wood that her father or brothers does. She turned to math and reading and her father, in a rare moment of modernity, sent her to University. The family is still very conservative in many ways. Her father wouldn’t let Eleanor out without an chaperone – something that hasn’t been done in ages. Apparently he also disliked Eleanor’s mannish style of dress when she was on the factory floor. Eleanor said the four years at University freed her. She was treated equally (more or less). She met people who respected her abilities. And she discovered aeronautics.

Eleanor says she dreams of being in the air. In the group, she is the one who designs things that fly. Most of her designs seem to be the conventional airship style although hers look much sleeker (they go faster). She has some that have no balloon. Instead they seem to glide through the air like a bird. We have had some test flights in the warehouse where her small gliders have gone almost the whole 1000 feet of the warehouse. Apparently Millicent has given her some strange material that has made her testing much easier and she has been trying things out almost weekly.

Eleanor is always confident to us, but I suspect there are moments when she has doubts. I became acquainted with her when we rescued her from John Smith and Winifred Stanhope and others.   She had been walking in the park when Stanhope and her butler killed Eleanor’s brother and then took her back to Smiths house. Smith made no effort to protect her from Winifred Stanhope or Findley Brown or others. Simone said they were trying to break Eleanor. Stanhope, her butler, Brown and Neville Carter Fraser took turns raping and torturing Eleanor and Simone. Eleanor won’t speak of it, but Simone says the two of them would trade stories, clean each other, shared food and cared and comforted each other after bad sessions. After hard workout sessions in the gym, I can see her wiping her eyes like she was remembering something. The only think she says is that she will never be helpless again. I know a bit about dreading the night and someone walking through the door. Fear eventually takes over and you just survive. And then you hate yourself for “just surviving”. I took a great deal of satisfaction in chopping off Stanhope’s hand even if it has been replaced by some strange clock work.

Even if Eleanor keeps a stiff upper lip around me, she has been very helpful to me. She has taken me into the machine shop and started training me in basics. I was surprised the first day she had me sweeping and cleaning, but then I got to see all the machines being worked by she, John and Rachael. The first thing I learned to use was a drill press. She and Rachael have been giving me little exercises to learn the basics of each tool. But it is mostly Eleanor who has been walking me around the shop. She says it is just like a new hire on the factory floor. In any case, I am feeling like I can be some use around here.

Please let me know if you have questions

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