Evelyn Wornham Wickham was born on June 7, 1895 in Rensselaer, New York. Her parents were Richard Woodley Wickham and Jane Elizabeth "Jenny" Wornham. She had a younger brother named Marvin Woodley Wickham, who worked as a naval architect. Her father was born July 24, 1864 at Smith Hill near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and earned a master's degree in Pedagogy from the University of Tennessee. Her mother was a graduate of the Albany Normal School.
Evelyn was a graduate of Vassar, class of 1916, and of the University of Chicago, MS 1917. She worked from 1916-1919 at the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, under a fellowship from the University of Chicago and a grant from Harvard (see Yerkes). At Yerkes she analyzed spectrograms and used stellar parallax to calculate the distance to celestial bodies. Little was known then about the size of the universe, which was generally believed to be no larger than the Milky Way. Yerkes was the world's most advanced observatory at this time and home to the largest refracting telescope in use. Her contemporaries included famed astronomer Edwin Hubble, who did work for his PhD at Yerkes.
From 1919-1926 she worked at American Telegraph and Telephone Co. (AT&T) at 195 Broadway in New York City as an engineer in the Department of Development and Research. The 29-story, neo-classical building in the heart of Lower Manhattan was the headquarters of AT&T and the site of many important innovations, including the first transcontinental telephone call and the first transatlantic telephone call (see building). The structure, designed by architect William W. Bosworth, has dozens of massive, granite columns in Doric and Ionic styles. From 1916 to 1984, the building was crowned by a 16-ton, 24-foot tall bronze statue covered with over 40,000 pieces of gold leaf that was called Genius of Electricity (see statue).
On June 4, 1925 she married Edward Kinsman Hale in Poughkeepsie, New York. He was born in Winchester, Massachusetts on July 8, 1891, son of Arthur W. Hale and Edith Webber Kinsman. Edward was a graduate of Harvard, class of 1914, and received an MBA from New York University. He was a navigating officer in the Navy during the First World War. He worked for the United States Lines until retiring in 1951 to become a full-time writer. His books include Personnel Management in Shipping: A Survey of the Personnel Practices of Leading American Ocean Carriers and Ships, Shipowners and Seamen, the latter which Evelyn co-wrote. They had a daughter, Rosalind, and four grandchildren.
In December 1973, Evelyn published a genealogy titled Descendants of Noyes Wickham, Senior of Ridgebury, Orange Co. N.Y. that she compiled in the 1940s and 1950s (see cover). It was dedicated to her father who began the study and inspired pride in her ancestry; and to her husband who was "encouraging even when genealogical concerns seemed to take precedence over household matters". The genealogy is remarkable for its accuracy and completeness within its scope, covering the first nine generations of the Noyes Wickham line in America. She collaborated extensively with Arthur N. Wickham, a distant cousin in Lincoln, Nebraska, who was compiling a gigantic family tree of the entire Wickham Family. Evelyn's genealogy was meant to be a small subset of this masterwork, but Arthur died in 1954 before he was able to complete the enormous task. His documents, which include approximately 300 pages of family trees in various stages of completion, are preserved in a library operated by the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Noyes, who owed his unusual first name to the maiden name of his mother Mary Noyes, was a prosperous farmer who lived from 1740 to 1822, and was Evelyn's 3-times-great grandfather. Noyes was born in Mattituck on eastern Long Island and was the only son of his father, Gideon. After the American Revolution, which resulted in his Long Island cousin Parker Wickham being banished from New York State, Noyes moved to Orange County. His two wives, Ruth Goldsmith and Catherine Conklin, produced 15 children, 10 of which were sons. Within a few generations, he was the patriarch of a huge Wickham clan that numbered in the hundreds, with many residing in Orange County or neighboring Sussex County, New Jersey.
Noyes was a great-grandson of Thomas Wickham, an English settler. Evelyn's meticulous documentation showed that Noyes' numerous descendants were from all walks of life, including farmers, dairymen, inn keepers, teachers, doctors, railroad workers, soldiers, and even Chicago grain brokers and California college professors. Many of the children died young and one was even kidnapped. One darkly colorful outlier was Dr. David Decker Wickham, who was convicted of accidentally poisoning a patient and sentenced to 10 years in jail. In a ghastly story that grabbed news headlines, the bowels of his patient were disinterred for toxicology tests and found to be laced with strychnine. David, then in his late twenties, jumped bail and was on the lam for about a year in a desperate attempt to clear his name, prompting the governor of New Jersey to offer a reward for his capture. After being re-captured in New York City and serving his sentence, David received medical training at Syracuse University and went on to become a wealthy and respected doctor who left his fortune to found the Wickham Church in Port Jervis, New York.
David's aunt, Julia Wickham, was the mother of Hugh Judson Kilpatrick (see picture), a famous Civil War general who fought at Gettysburg and other important battles, sometimes against his distant cousin, Confederate general Williams Carter Wickham. He was later U.S. Minister to Chile and the grandfather of identical twin sisters Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt and Thelma, Lady Furness (see them). Thelma, the wife of Marmaduke Furness, 1st Viscount Furness, was also the lover of King Edward VIII who introduced him to Wallis Simpson, causing him to abdicate the British throne to marry her. Gloria married railroad heir Reginald Claypoole "Reggie" Vanderbilt and their only child, fashion designer Gloria Laura Vanderbilt, became caught in a famous custody battle after Reggie died that was provoked by the mother's socialite lifestyle (see mother and child). The younger Gloria, raised amidst luxury at her aunt Gertrude's mansion on Long Island, became a celebrated beauty (see her) who had four husbands and four children, including TV news anchor Anderson Cooper.
Besides excluding all descendants through female lines, Evelyn's 42-page genealogy omits several male lines that went West, as these were to be included in Arthur N. Wickham's never-published book. The missing lines include descendants of Noyes' sons Hull and Thomas, who moved to Muskingum County, Ohio in the early 1800s. Also missing are the descendants of Noyes' grandson Halsey Wickham (sometimes spelled Holsey) who moved to Miller County, Missouri in the mid 19th century. All three men had a large number of descendants. Evelyn's work also excludes numerous other Wickhams who lived in Orange County, such as George Duncan Wickham and Harvey Wickham, who were cousins rather than descendants of Noyes. This updated family tree, based in part on Evelyn's pioneering work, fills in many of the gaps. In 1982, Evelyn published an article called On the Wickham Ancestry in The American Genealogist which speculated that immigrant Thomas Wickham may have been related to the Wickhams of Chipping Sodbury, England.
Evelyn passed away on January 28, 1988 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.