Partner Mildred “Barrie” Berryman, Alma Harder Baker, Dorothy “Dollie” Wobbs
817 E 700 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
615 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Mount Olivet Cemetery, 1342 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
Edith Mary Chapman (November 13, 1885 – April 13, 1967) was a teacher in the Manzanita and Cleveland Schools in Oakland for 16 years.
She was born in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah on 13 Nov 1885 to Arvis Scott Chapman (1839–1919), an Episcopalian dentist, and Sarah Ann Briggs (1851–1923), an ex-Mormon survivor of the disastrous Martin Handcart Company of 1856, borh of whom had been pioneers in the settling of Utah. Edith’s paternal aunt, Ann E. Chapman, was a pioneering librarian in Utah. The Chapman Branch of the Salt Lake Public Library system, located in Rose Park, is named after Ann E. Chapman.
Edith attended the Oquirrh Elementary School downtown and then West High, growing up at 817 East 700 South. Edith was quite athletic and played on a girls’ Junior High basketball team called the Hamiltons. In 1900, her team beat her school’s second-string boys’ team, which made the papers. Upon graduating from West High in 1906, Edith immediately began teaching at the Sandy School, while also attending the University of Utah in its education program. She graduated in 1923 and became an Instructor of Elementary Education at the U.
In 1924, Edith met and fell in love with Mildred “Barrie” Berryman, a pioneering sexologist who was studying a group of Lesbians and Gay men from Salt Lake. Edith was one of Mildred’s subjects, and Mildred reported that Edith’s “entire makeup mental and physical are positively feminine.” Mildred also reported that Edith had been engaged to marry a man, but her family prohibited the marriage, and afterwards, Edith “never cultivated masculine attention” again. While their relationship only lasted a brief time, Mildred lived with Edith for four years in the small Lesbian boarding house that Edith owned and lived in at 615 E. 900 South [now Harvey Milk Blvd.], just north of Liberty Park. Their relationship did not last because Mildred claimed Edith “wanted a lover and child in one individual and made the object of her affections wretched with heavy attention, jealous rages and amorous demands.”
Edith, busy with her education career, had Carline Monson, a favorite aunt of LDS president Thomas S. Monson, and her mother's previous partner, run the boarding house for Lesbians. Grace Nickerson, an instructor at the LDS School of Music (in the McCune Mansion) was the first boarder in Edith’s lesbian boarding house. After Grace Nickerson moved out of the house, Dorothy Graham replaced her. Dorothy was a lesbian and the manager of the Coon Chicken Inn in Salt Lake (a well-known restaurant owned by her family, which featured male drag performers, such as Julian Eltinge, during the 1920s and 30s). Mildred moved out of Edith’s boarding house in 1929. Ethel Cahoon Stewart, a divorced woman the same age as Edith Chapman who worked as a bookkeeper at a local brickyard, replaced Barrie in Chapman’s boarding house when she moved out. By 1931, Edith had grown tired of her limited romantic options in Salt Lake. While there were several bars in Salt Lake at the time (mostly on upper State Street) where Gay men could frequent, the Lesbian community resorted to home parties and making “pilgrimages” to San Francisco. Edith had joined some of these excursions to the Bay Area in the 1920s and fell in love with the social climate there. She signed over ownership of her home to Carline Monson in 1931 and moved to Berkeley, California, where she continued teaching until her death.
She moved to Oakland from her native state of Utah in 1934. She was a member of the National Retired Teacher's Association and the Berkeley College Women's Club.
By 1939, Edith was living with her lover Alma Harder Baker. After their break up in 1951, Edith became lovers with Dorothy “Dollie” Wobbs and lived with her for the rest of her life. When Edith died in Oakland in 1967, her obituary referred to herself as “the loving friend of Miss Dorothy J. Wobbs.” Edith is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake, next to her parents and brother.
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