Things were becoming increasingly tense at the Taylor farm. The house was crowded and arguments between Willam Taylor an John Drew were frequent. Unlike Hazel’s older brother Joseph, who was earning his keep as a farm hand, Hazel now out of school – was a financial burden.
1902 was the start of a new century, simple farm-life was giving way to a more complex, and arguably better way of making a living. It wasn’t unusual for a young woman to leave the hill towns Rensselaer county for work in the factories and homes of Troy’s wealthy industrialists.
So, at the age of fourteen Hazel left the family arguments and the Taylor farm behind to begin a new life in Troy NY, a City booming with opportunity and danger.
Most young women worked in the factories.
The days were long, the work was hard but it was paid work and it provided many women an opportunity for independence and a confidence that would later empower some of them to begin a history-changing movement.
Hazel was on a different path. She had a connection that would keep her out of factory work and place her in a fine home.
Her Aunt Minnie Taylor had been working as a domestic servant and bookkeeper for some of Troy’s more powerful and wealthy families. Troy’s wealthlty family’s formed a network and when a domestic position opened up insiders like Minnie Taylor were first to know. Hazel like her Aunt Minnie would come to Troy employed as a domestic servant.
She was entering a different world. Hazel would soon learn and see things that would mold the rest of her very short life.
Everybody wanted a piece of the great American dream!
Troy was a city is filled with great opportunity, it’s population was doubling every year. Businessmen were inventing new and faster ways of making things. Skilled and unskilled workers migrated from Ireland, Poland, and Germany.
For some it was simply a good job and a good home, others wanted wealth and still, others wanted power and all the things that come with it.
Troy had its share of dangerous people. Some of them offered an opportunity with its danger vailed behind good manners and smiles. And others were just flat out scoundrels, pickpockets, thieves and thugs. The latter were relatively easy to spot and steer clear of, the former unfortunately were not.
Both were skilled at locating and exploiting the naive and inexperienced.
You see a place with abundant opportunity always attracts ambitious people who invent better ways of doing things.
This fuels manufacturing growth and even more opportunity but when ambition becomes all-consuming, it turns into greed.
Hazel Drew entered a city that was drunk on opportunity.
We don’t know if she was fearful or excited but we do know that she was changing, she was making her own opportunities and eventually living a life beyond what she could afford.
Did her ambitions turn into greed and her actions into dangerous mistakes?
Or was she completely innocent, and had she lived, fully capable of explaining her extra income, frequent travels and systematic loss of friends?
To fully appreciate how Hazel meets her death it’s important to understand that Hazel was a girl when she moved to Troy. She was working and living under the roof of people with significant power and wealth. She was exposed to the comings and goings of important people, with nice things.
It was in this world that Hazel became a beautiful woman with ambitions of her own.
Want to Know More About Henry Burden check out these two videos.