|Birthplace of Anna Case, 15 East Main Street, Clinton, NJ.|
The eldest of the three children of Peter van Nuys Case and Jeanette Ludlow Gray, Anna grew up in South Branch, Hillsborough Township, where her father set up as the village blacksmith.
|South Branch Village blacksmith shop of Peter Case circa 1907.|
Anna grew up in poverty. Most of her youth was spent taking care of her two younger brothers and running the household for her sickly mother. She also helped in the blacksmith shop, and did enough odd jobs around town - cleaning houses and driving a horse and carriage taxi to and from the train station - to buy herself one new dress and pair of shoes each year.
She also sang. She recalled later, that by the age of nine if she wasn't getting the solo on Sunday in the choir of the South Branch Reformed Church she would be bitterly disappointed.
|Anna Case singing in the choir of the South Branch Reformed Church as depicted in a 1913 newspaper.|
Neighbors and friends encouraged the young Anna - against her father's wishes - to pursue a career in music. Already self taught on violin and organ, the teenager knew that to become a great singer she would need a teacher. Mrs. Dewitt Bowman, wife of the South Branch grocer, loaned Anna enough money to take lessons twice a week from Somerville music teacher Catherine Opdyke.
|Catherine Opdyke, Mrs. Dewitt Bowman, and the young Anna Case from a 1931 newspaper story.|
It was also around this time that Anna got a $12 a month job as organist at the Neshanic Reformed Church. It wasn't long before Miss Opdyke knew that Anna's talent was beyond the scope of her teaching.
|Anna Case with local music teacher Catherine Opdyke as depicted in a 1925 newspaper account of her career.|
She recommended Anna to Madame Augusta Ohrstrom-Renard, a former dramatic soprano with the Royal Opera of Stockholm, Sweden, who was teaching in New York. The proceeds from a concert performance by Anna at the Neshanic Church helped repay her loans, and a new job singing in the choir of the First Presbyterian Church in Plainfield paid for her lessons in New York.
It wasn't long before Anna would be discovered - but I will save that part of the story for another time.
|One of the earliest publicity photos of Anna Case as published in National Magazine in 1910.|