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For the rest of her long life, Lucy Parsons remained the living soul of the dramas of Haymarket. Here, in 1940, she points back across more than half a century to a portrait of her husband in his prime.
The second image is the cover of an issue of the Liberator, one of the several publications she edited. The issue—dated November 11, 1905, the eighteenth anniversary of the executions—and it bears the portraits of her husband and the other four men (including Louis Lingg) who were "judicially murdered." The third image is a handwritten letter dated October 20, 1930, by Lucy Parsons in which she responds to a request for a copy of her Life of Albert R. Parsons. Her letterhead advertises this book, Altgeld's pardon, the speeches her husband and his co-defendants made in court before sentencing, and her own lecture on "Principles of Anarchism."
The only explanation for Lucy Parsons's astonishing endurance in the face of challenges that would crush even the strongest spirit is that she was somehow nurtured by the very things that would destroy her. She continued to face ridicule and invective from the press and harsh treatment from the authorities, though she was honored at home and abroad by the radical community. In 1905, she participated in the organizational meeting of the International Workers of the World, which took place in Chicago, and whose activities included ceremonies at Waldheim.
Parsons encountered nothing but tragedy in her family life. Her daughter Lulu died at the age of eight, and her son Albert Jr., who she had hoped would redress the wrongs done to his father, instead turned away from his parents' beliefs, even enlisting in the Spanish-American War. He died in 1919, having spent the last twenty years of his life in the insane asylum to which his mother had him committed.
Through her final decades Lucy Parsons lived in the apartment on North Troy Street listed on the stationery, which she shared with her longtime companion George Markstall. She continued to appear at numerous rallies and Haymarket anniversaries even as her eyesight deteriorated, her physical strength ebbed, and many had forgotten the wrongs that animated her. Author Studs Terkel, himself a speaker at many Haymarket commemorative events over his own long life, recalls hearing her speak in the 1930s in Washington Square Park, better known as "Bughouse Square" because of the colorful personalities who addressed the masses there (see the "Personal Recollections" section of this Act).
On several occasions Parsons shared a platform with the other most famous of the Haymarket widows, Nina Van Zandt Spies. Spies descended into depression, poverty, and eccentric behavior following her husband's death. For a period she and Parsons were estranged, but they reconciled before Spies's death in 1936. Lucy Parsons spoke at Nina Spies' memorial service. By this time her husband's pardoned codefendants were long dead. Michael Schwab had passed away in 1898, Oscar Neebe in 1916, and Samuel Fielden in 1922.
Even time alone could not end Lucy Parsons's life. In March 1942, as she was nearing ninety, she and Markstall died in a fire in her North Troy Street apartment. She was buried, as Nina Spies had been, near her husband in Waldheim, where visitors often lay a single rose across her simple stone marker.