The Huntsville project was pretty interesting, so I took a look around some other online sources. The Hathi Trust has all the issues of ST. NICHOLAS before 1923 online, and every one has some contact pages in which their young readers discuss previous issues of the magazine, or current events, or the organizations they have formed. There are enough of these pages to keep this blog in business for years.
But where else will I find this kind of thing? The Hathi Trust page links to some similar nineteenth-century children's magazines. I went through a few issues, but haven't found anything comparable to ST. NICHOLAS in quantity. I did find, though, in OUR YOUNG FOLKS (a predecessor magazine) a letters page which occasionally gave us referents.
From the January, 1870 issue, page 69, the names, ages, and cities of three girls were published as winners of a composition contest. The magazine then published the first winner's composition in the next two pages, with a promise that the others would be included in succeeding issues. The winners were:
Pearl Eytinge, age 13, New York City [so b. ~1857].
Ten years later, in the 1880 federal census: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZ6N-XJ9
Hattie Adams, age 14, Stony Creek, Connecticut [b. ~1856]. Possibly the Harriet H. Adams in Stonington, Connecticut in 1870: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN7P-8BK
Lottie E. Hamilton, age 11, Oswego, New York [b. ~1859]. Five years later, the 1875 New York State Census has her family at https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VTD3-7QP
OK, two for certain, and one not so much. If someone is a descendant of one of these three people, it adds an element of interest to know that they were prize-winning writers while still children or teenagers. It would be nice to more definite about Hattie Adams.
We'll be back to the missing Huntsville children, and the Hennessey school, in the next post.