03 January 2021

Mattie Graham

Headline, from SL Herald Dec 25 1893
Martha “Mattie” Graham (1866-1893) shot herself in the head on Christmas Day 1893 because she feared eviction for not having enough money to pay the rent. She was 27 years old.

Mattie’s past is murky, especially her late teens and early twenties. She grew up in Montana, the youngest of 15 children.

By the time she was 27, she had been married and divorced and had two children. One of her children was living with the father and she had charge of the other child, an 11 year old daughter who she placed with another family somewhere in SLC.

In Dec 1893 she was working as a prostitute in a small brothel located above an Italian saloon at 125 S. West Temple SLC. Although she had been trying to make something of herself and was in the process of buying an inexpensive housing lot in the Liberty Wells neighborhood, she was in debt.

She told friends she owed $4K (~$116K today) and it was coming due. Further, she already had eviction problems at her last residence and was told she needed to pay her rent by Christmas or she was to be evicted at her present residence.

In the early hours of Christmas morning, 1893, Mattie was with a client in her room. She was looking at her belongings in a trunk and muttered something about “only 65 cents” and then suddenly shot herself in the head.

Her client was initially jailed for suspicion of murder but after the coroner’s inquest he was released as it was ruled a suicide.

Mattie’s mother in Montana was notified of her death but no further burial instructions were sent.

Mattie was buried in a Pauper’s Section of the SLC Cemetery on Jan 6 1894 at the expense of the SL County. She is one of the many unmarked graves.

Sources: SL Herald 1893-12-25; 1893-12-26; 1893-12-27; 1893-12-28; 1894-01-01; 1894-01-06

Pauper’s Field, Plat T. SLC Cemetery 2016, from FindAGrave

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