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Edna Crauch Trunnell Eddy

At a glance:

Born: January 21, 1876 
Died: April 27, 1962 
Maiden name: Trunnell (changed from Trundle between 1755 and 1847) 
Race/nationality/ethnic background: Caucasian (British)
Married: 1st: Louis Byron Eddy; 2nd: John C. Foster
Children: One son
Primary county and city of residence and work: Humboldt (Winnemucca), and Pershing (Lovelock) Counties 
Major fields of work: Embalmer; mortuary owner; elected Public Administrator of both Pershing and Humboldt Counties
Other role identities: wife, mother, licensed chauffeur and airplane pilot 

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Biography: Eddy image

Edna Crauch Trunnell's family history "runs through five centuries-from the sixteenth to the twentieth-and in years from 1550 to 1950", according to the The Pioneer News of Shepherdsville, Bullitt County, Kentucky, dated September 11, 1950. In actual fact, that family history is still being written at the time the this biography is completed. 

David Trundle lived in Suffolk County, England in the 1500's. David's son, John, according to The Pioneer News' article, came to America with the first colonists to settle in Maryland, accompanied by his son, John Jr., who was born in England in 1624 and died in 1698 in Anne Arndel County, Maryland. Surviving John Jr. was his second wife, Mary Ross, and their son-the third Trundle child to be named John, as was the British custom of the time. Eventually, one of the Trundles, also named John (of course!), the son of Josiah and Katherine, changed the spelling of the family name to "Trunnell" since it was generally pronounced this way.

Dr. Phillip Grable Trunnell and his wife, Harriet Virginia Hatzell Trunnell, of Louisville, Kentucky, had two children, Bradley H. Trunnell and Edna Crauch Trunell. Edna attended the Nazareth School for Girls in Nazareth, Kentucky, and after her graduation was employed by The Courier General under Henry Watterson, a famous southern orator, statesman and writer in Louisville. Edna also studied nursing in Kentucky.  

It was 1898 in Chattanooga that Edna met Louis Byron Eddy (b. April 23, 1873 in Cleveland, Ohio), then a member of Company H, 7th U. S. Infantry, who would become her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 11, 1900, and whose name she would use for the rest of her life. Their only child, a son named Hallie, was born March 19, 1902. Although the author could not locate a divorce decree, a second marriage to Eddy was recorded on June 18, 1914, and it was apparently a somewhat rocky marriage since a Complaint for Divorce was filed on May 5, 1917, another on May 11, 1917, and the final one on March 18, 1918 with a Decree of Divorce rendered on June 1, 1918, all in Humboldt County, Nevada.

Edna Eddy also had a somewhat rocky time obtaining a Nevada State embalmer's license. In her letter of October 5, 1916 addressed to George E. Kitzmeyer, Secretary for the Nevada State Board of Embalmers in Carson City, she said that she had California State license No. 1224, and asked that it be transferred to Nevada so she wouldn't have to travel to Tonopah to take the required test; that she had a diploma from the Worsham School of Embalming in Chicago, Illinois (author was unable to verify this fact) and listed two professional references: Sid Evans, an undertaker in Salt Lake City, Utah and Professor F. A. Sullivan, "who edits the Embalmer's Manual, published by St. Louis Coffin Co., St. Louis, Mo." Kitzmeyer forwarded her letter to a Mr. Keyser, saying in part, "Why in H--- don't you and Dunn set a date for our next examination. I want to give those wishing to take the next examination a little time to prepare themselves....So get a move on and set that date but not before election."

It was Nevada custom at that time to accept licenses from other states on a discretionary basis; the statute involved used the word "shall" and the board arbitrarily denied Eddy's application. Eddy sought the protection of the law and sued the Board of Embalmers, finally appealing to the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada. George B. Thatcher, Attorney-General and E.T. Patrick, Deputy Attorney-General, representing the State Board of Embalmers , declared that "shall" was permissive only and not mandatory. In Case No. 2273 of the January Term, 1917, the Supreme Court noted, in a long and interesting discussion of practices and language, that Eddy had received a California license which required ".Eddy image 2..a rigid written examination and make actual demonstration on cadaver..." and that if the legislature had intended such interpretation of the word "shall" it "...could have made that idea clear by the use of six or eight words more than it did" in the law. Mrs. Edna T. Eddy's certificate as an Embalmer was issued effective September 1909, and she became the first lady funeral director and mortician in Humboldt County and possibly in Nevada.

In 1915, Eddy opened and operated the Eddy Funeral Parlor in Lovelock and later, when she learned that there was no funeral parlor in Winnemucca, she opened one there, also. Eddy's son, Hallie, became an active business partner in the embalming business in 1925 and the name changed to "Edna T. Eddy & Son, Inc." Edna became Secretary of the State Board of Embalmers on July 9, 1927 in Reno, serving with J. L. Keyser of Elko as President and Frank Cavanaugh of Tonopah as Treasurer. She obtained a chauffeur's license so she could travel from town to town transporting deceased persons to her funeral parlors for embalming and burial. The last renewal of that license was in 1942 when she was age 66. In February, 1943 she also commenced flight lessons through the Fillmore Flying School at the Winnemucca Airport; her last lesson there was logged on September 14, 1944 (License No. S 561839).

On July 26, 1918 Edna married John C. Foster at the Lovelock Parsonage with Rev. Fred Sheldon officiating. Foster had been a resident of Nevada since 1906, first living in Rawhide, then becoming Lovelock postmaster in 1926, and state senator from Pershing County in 1936. He drafted the Resolution adopted by the Nevada legislature requesting that silver be included in the metal basis for our national coinage (Scrugham, 372, 373). Edna and John were divorced March 17, 1926 and Foster died in a Reno hospital March 31, 1940. (It is interesting to note that Edna was listed as a widow in Who's Who in Nevada, 1931-32--probably to avoid the political stigma attached to divorce in those days.)

Eddy was politically very active, running unopposed for Pershing County Administrator in 1920 under her married name of Foster. In 1922 she resumed her former name of Eddy and began a four-year term, successfully running again in 1926. In 1930, 1934 and 1938, she ran unopposed (Democrat) as Humboldt County Administrator.

Edna had served on the Pershing County School Board, and was also very active in the Order of Eastern Star Rebekah Lodge, eventually being initiated into the Past Matron's Association of that Order, as well as the Macabees, Women of Woodcraft, and the American Legion Auxiliary. The Humboldt Star frequently noted her dinner parties, "Dagwood Spreads," and other social events held in her "country home east of Winnemucca" during the early 1940's. Her son, Hallie, married Carmelita Penelon, daughter of Henry and Josephine Carillo PenEddy image 3elon, and Edna became the grandmother of Gloria and Patsy Eddy. Hallie died in Winnemucca on June 14, 1984, his widow preceding him in Death on July 7, 1976.

Eddy image 4In 1946, Edna's mother, Hattie V. Trunnell, died in Lovelock at the age of 99. Mrs. Trunnell was born December 10, 1846, in Louisville, Kentucky and was a 30-year resident of Lovelock. She had been a very well educated woman, had survived the Civil War and married a doctor, Philip Trunnell, in Kentucky; Phillip died when their three children, George, Bradley and Edna, were very young. Mrs. Trunnell was an accomplished artist and pianist who also enjoyed needlework, crotchet and embroidery. Surviving her in addition to Edna was her son, Bradley Trunnell of Salt Lake City, and five grandchildren, including Hallie S. Eddy of Winnemucca, and seven great-grandchildren including Gloria and Patsy Eddy of Winnemucca. She is buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Winnemucca.

In the late 1940's, Mrs. Eddy purchased property in Placerville, California, and began to spend much of her time there at her home called "Yankee Jim's," giving up active interest in the funeral parlor around 1960. In 1962, she was confined to hospital and later a convalescent home in Auburn, California and died there on April 27th. Order of the Eastern Star Rebekah Lodge took charge of her final rites and she was interred in the Masonic section of Winnemucca Cemetery. Pallbearers were her long-standing good friends, Merwyn Brown, Rudolph Schwartz, Pete Garteiz, Henry Harrer, Frank Pedroli, Phil Tobin, and Keith Horning, all well-known Humboldt County residents.

(Author's note: Mrs. Eddy was a very close friend of my mother, Jean Eastman, when we lived in Winnemucca. As a little girl I recognized Edna's great sense of humor and love for children, as well as her gift for entertaining her friends and business acquaintances. She was a tall lady, around five feet seven inches, and what was in those days termed "well bred and gracious." But she could be quite forceful in manner, and made her likes and dislikes easily known. I thought she was great!)

(Researched and written by Janet E. White)
The author thanks Pansilee Larsen, Curator, Humboldt County Museum, and Judy Adams, Humboldt County Library for their painstaking assistance in this research.

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Sources of Information:

Eddy, Edna T. Her original "Visitor's Book" containing sketches, photos and letters.

Nevada Chauffeurs' License, January 21, 1876, with picture of Edna.

Letter, 10-5-1916, to George Kitzmeyer, Secretary, Nevada State Board of Embalmers, Carson City, NV.

"Pilot's Flight Log," License No. S561839, 2-16-43 to 9-14-44.

Humboldt County Recorder. Documentation of real estate purchases and sales.

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, January 22, 1917 ("Woman Embalmer Demands License").

Lovelock Review-Miner, Lovelock, Nevada, July 26, 1918 (Ayres).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, July 29, 1918, 3 (Ayers).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, July 21, 1927 (Board of Embalmers).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, September 13, 1927 (lawsuit, Butler v. Eddy).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, April 12, 1940 (Society page).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, June 19, 1940 (Society page).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, September 24, 1941 (Society page).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, November 8, 1941 (Society page).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, March 8, 1943, "Sale at Elko Airport Today."

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, August 23, 1946 (Trunnell obituary).

Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada, August 27, 1946 (Trunnell obituary)

Lovelock Review-Miner, Lovelock, Nevada, August 29, 1946 (Trunnell obituary).

Humboldt Star, Winnemucca, Nevada, April 30, 1962. (Eddy obituary).

Humboldt Sun, July 29, 1976 (Carmelita Eddy obituary).

Humboldt Sun, June 14, l984 (Hallie Eddy obituary).

Kitzmeyer, George E. Original letter, 10-6-16, to Edna T. Eddy.

McEachern, Gloria. (Edna's granddaughter) Personal Interview, June 3, 1996.

Pioneer-News, Sheperdsville, Bullitte County, Kentucky: Who was Who in Bullitte County 100 Years Ago. U.S. Census, 1850. ,September 22, 1950. Article on the Trunnell family, including mention of Edna Eddy.

Reed, Waller. A County Political Directory for Nevada.

Scrugham, James O. Nevada: A Narrative of the Conquest of a Frontier Land.

Supreme Court of the State of Nevada, Reports of Cases, Vol. XL, January Term, 1917. Edna T. Eddy, Petitioner v. The State Board of Embalmers, Respondent

Who's Who in Nevada. Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women Who Are Building a State. Vol 1, 1931-1932. 23. Reno: Who's Who Publishing Co.

Worsham College of Mortuary Science. Letter dated September 23, 1999 addressed to author.

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