Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Search: Lost Children

One of the things that many people overlook about genealogy is the fact that it is not always about making the remarkable link to some historical figure or event. Sometimes it is about making sure that people are not forgotten. This doesn’t just apply to those names that may not be part of the usual family discussions, it is about the names that may not have even carried over to the next generation. I have written about many of the people that lived interesting lives, some that may have died too soon, and others whom I simply wanted to learn more about. To date, the list is rather extensive and includes the following leaves from my tree:

Those are just a few of the lives that I have tried to bring back to the forefront of my family history. Many of the details were already known to various family members but there have been a few that have come as a surprise (at least some of the details). These stories are fascinating to me and I will certainly be adding to that list in the near future but, for now, I wanted to take the time to share some of the names that can too easily be forgotten. Some lives are cut short while other lives never had a chance to get started.

When looking through the census records it can be a little startling to see the two numbers listed a few columns over from the mother’s name. These columns stick to the factual… number of children followed by number of surviving children. The census is a form full of facts and numbers and doesn’t provide any additional insights as to the discrepancy. Seeing these do, usually different, figures has become routine for many of us conducting research on our families. However, when we dig a little deeper, when we find a name, that column is no longer filled with simple numbers. Below are just a few of the names that I have been able to find…

  • I knew about my great aunt Frances Reba Teaford from the time I initially became interested in the family history. A few of her siblings are still around and have shared stories about her with me and the short life that she lived. Frances was born in Eagle Rock, Virginia to Harry Gilmore Teaford and Nettie Love in 1926. She succumb to the ravages of Tuberculosis a few years after the family moved to Pennsylvania in 1943. However, I didn’t find out until later about a baby brother that was born in August 1930. Unfortunately, he passed away three months later still without having been given a name.
  • Samuel Ardis and Sarah Myers had three children together including twins born on April 18, 1902. Thomas died in July 1902 (a month before his father) and Edna died in March 1903 (seven months after her father).
  • My great great grandmother, Susan Laura Corner, was one of nine children born to Jacob Corner and Tamise Culp. However, by the time she turned five year old, she had already lost three of her siblings including her twin sister. Calvin was born two decades before my grandmother and never made it to his first birthday. Hannah was six when her baby twin sisters were born but only knew them for five years. Emma Flora, Susan’s twin, was just over two years old when she passed away.  
  • William McKannan and Susan Corner had three children, two sons and a daughter. Their youngest son, Reuben (named after Susan’s brother), was born in July of 1893. He was laid to rest in what would become the family plot in May of 1897.
  • By the end of 1919, William Jacob McKannan (Reuben’s brother) and Helen Fulton had four children, two boys and two girls. By the close of 1922, William was a widower caring for two sons. His two daughters, Marion (1916-1920) and Helen (1919-1922), both preceded their mother in death. Helen succumbed to a stroke on September 7, 1922.  
  • Over the course of a single year from 1879-1880, John Uttley lost both his first wife Sallie, who passed away in January 1880, as well as their only child Charlotte who was born in February 1879 and died three months later.
  • Jacob Wirth and Mary Eppright had four children. By August of 1864, Mary was a single mother of one. Their oldest daughter, Emma, didn’t even make it to her first birthday passing away at 10 months old in October 1858. The day following her father’s death aboard the USS Tecumseh at the Battle of Mobile Bay, Laura died just over a month shy of her second birthday on August 6, 1864 and Mary succumb to her illness (likely yellow fever) three days after her sister on August 9th.
Genealogy is about ensuring that the family history is passed down to future generations. Sometimes those facts and events are obvious and quite well known, other times it takes some digging to ensure that we have as complete a picture as possible. As many of you know, it is usually about the tiny details. Sometimes, even just ensuring that the name of a lost child it remembered is the greatest thing that we can accomplish. This is why I continue to try to make the connections and put the pieces together to tell the larger story but take the time to make sure that these children are part of the story and not forgotten. After all, each life is part of the family.