What happened the night she vanished?
January 28, 2017
EVERY NOW AND THEN, when I am researching unexplained mysteries, I run across an amazing mystery that I have never seen. One such mystery involved a young woman that was born in 1914, the year of my father’s birth. Then, on December 7, 1939, poof! She was gone.
Barbara Newhall Follett was a prodigy. She wrote a novel at age twelve, The House Without Windows. It was grabbed-up by Knopf in 1927 and received high praise. Her second novel, The Voyage of the Norman D. received critical acclaim as well—and it was based on her own experiences traveling from New Haven to Nova Scotia on a lumber schooner as a “cabin boy.”
When Barbara was fourteen her life suffered a serious blow when her father left the family for a new love interest that had caught his eye. Wilson Follett was an editor and critic. She had been close with her father and his absence put her into a deep depression. What was left of the family went through tough straits, trying to gather enough resources to survive. The onset of The Great Depression added to their struggles. Barbara was sixteen as they tried to eke out an existence—she found work as a secretary in New York. She was able to keep writing and some of her other work eventually found its way into publication and acclaim over the years.
She thought she had found happiness, once again, when she met and fell in love with Nickerson Rogers. In 1933, they were married and sat out on adventures in Europe and parts of the United States, including a trek along the Appalachian Trail. When their travels were finished they put down roots in Brookline, Massachusetts. Then, a pall settled over Barbara when she developed an eerie intuition that her husband may have the same roving eye her own father had.
On that fateful December in 1939, the couple quarreled and Barbara left the house with only thirty dollars. She disappeared into the night, forever.
Nickerson Rogers did not report her missing for two weeks. Perhaps she had done the same thing before and always returned. He assumed that she would return. Barbara’s mother was always suspicious and thirteen years later, she tried to get the Brookline police to open an investigation. She even entertained the thought that her daughter could be suffering from amnesia, or a breakdown of some sort and was possibly in some institution.
No evidence of her whereabouts was ever found, nor was a body discovered. No foul play was indicated. It is not known what ever happened to the young genius.
If you are interested in the talents of Barbara Newhall Follett I encourage you to read:
Barbara Newhall Follett: A Life in Letters, edited by Stefan Cooke. It can be found on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions. Barbara’s life is on the pages of the book, in her own words. Some of them are letters to her shipmates.
While on Amazon, I encourage you to check out her other work which you can find from different publishers and in varied formats: Lost Island and The House Without Windows.
The mystery of Barbara Newhall Follett is truly one that can break the heart.
Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Curious Indeed, a collection of stories dealing with the unknown and unexplained.