Partner Mary T. Locke

Queer Places:
104 Thompson Rd, Perry, WI 53572
Mount Horeb Union Cemetery Mount Horeb, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

An author photo of Betty Sebenthall from the late 1960s. ACQUAINTED WITH A CHANCE OF BOBCATS, 1969Roberta Elizabeth "Betty" Sebenthall (January 6, 1917 - January 27, 1979) aka Paul Kruger, was an American author of crime novels. She has also published crime fiction under the pseudonym Harry Davis. One Wisconsin lesbian couple in the pre-Stonewall era was linked to the Dane County village of Mount Horeb. Betty Sebenthall, born in Eau Claire in 1917, lived most of her life on Thompson Street in Mount Horeb. Sebenthall met her life partner, Mary T. Locke, in New York in 1940, and Locke relocated to Mount Horeb.

During World War II, the two women worked in munitions plants. In the early 1940s, Sebenthall began publishing the first of her fifteen novels, many of them mysteries or novels of suspense, using male pseudonyms like Harry Davis and Paul Krueger. Her most serious novel, The Desperate Wall, which she published under the name Roberta Hill, was about hypocrisy in a small town—a theme that hit a bit too close to home for some folks in Mount Horeb. One New York reviewer, however, hailed Sebenthall as “a new writer who would be compared to Sherwood Anderson.”

In the 1960s, Sebenthall turned to poetry. Her volume Acquainted with a Chance of Bobcats came out in 1969. Felix Pollak, a University of Wisconsin–Madison librarian and a poet, described her as “underrated and unrecognized.” For her poetic work, she received in 1970 the National Endowment for the Arts in the category poetry / fiction. The Journey Home,a posthumous anthology of his poems, was published in 1989.

Sebenthall died in January 1979 at age sixty-two. Within months, Locke died, apparently of natural causes, but it was rumored that she had left a note saying she could not live without Sebenthall. The two women are buried next to each other and share a common headstone in Mount Horeb Union Cemetery.

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