Bettie and Her Family: Edna Locke Hamilton, 1878-1964

Category: Heritage

Noraleen DuVall Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

The exhibit "Bettie and Her Family: Four Generations of Thetas" highlights the lives of Bettie Locke Hamilton; her daughters, Edna and Eulalia; her granddaughter, Genevieve Hartley Cones; and her great-granddaughter, Carole Cones Bradfield. Over the next few months, I'll share in this blog the story of Bettie's descendants, their connections to Theta, and their lives as leading women.


Edna, Bettie's oldest daughter, was born February 29, 1878, in Jerseyville, Illinois. She grew up in Independence, Kansas, and Greencastle, Indiana. She entered DePauw in 1895 and was initiated into Kappa Alpha Theta in October of the same year. After her graduation from DePauw in 1900, she attended the Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital Nursing School, an early precursor to Northwestern University Nursing School. After graduating in 1903, Edna took additional coursework at the Chicago School of Philanthropy and at Columbia University. Her focus was on public health nursing; she worked in the Chicago area in the tuberculosis division and then supervised a dispensary for several years. Along with her mother and sister, she attended Theta’s 1907 Grand Convention in Chicago.

Edna moved to Indianapolis in 1921 to serve as the director of the Indianapolis Public Health Nursing Association, now known as the Visiting Nurse Association of Indianapolis. She visited schools, developed programs to improve health conditions in the community, and spoke to many groups about the importance of health measures. In 1929, she became the director of nursing services for the Children's Fund of Michigan. She toured the state, focusing on improving the health of children. During this time, she was also active in the Detroit Alumnae Chapter and served as a special lecturer at the University of Michigan. She and her sister attended the 1940 Grand Convention on Mackinaw Island to formally acknowledge the famous portrait of Bettie that now hangs in the Theta headquarters' boardroom.

In 1942, Edna semi-retired to North Vernon, Indiana. She continued to visit northern Michigan in the summers to assist in public health nursing efforts. She served as the chairman of the Jennings County Cancer Society, volunteered with the Red Cross, and was a district chairman for the American Cancer Society. In 1957, the Indiana State Nurses Association recognized her as the outstanding nurse of District 13. Edna died in 1964.