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November 10, 2013

An Ancestral Tragedy - Losing a Wife and 4 Children in 7 Years

Yesterday I read a blog post on Grave Mistakes called In less than 2 weeks Margaret Hughes lost quads, twins and her husband.

It got me thinking about the tragedies in my own ancestors' lives. One of the first sad events I uncovered as a genealogist many years ago was the story of great grand uncle Thomas William King.

Thomas was born in 1841 in what was the wilderness of Puslinch Township in Wellington County Ontario. At the age of 25 he married Mary Ann Kemble. Two daughters were soon born to the young couple. The first born was Catherine born April 1865. Next came her little sister Mary Ann born October 11, 1869.

Tragedy struck when a few days after Mary Ann's birth, 25 year old Mary Ann Kemble died. One year later, the widower Thomas faced yet another blow when 5 year old Catherine died on December 9, 1870. Just 4 days later her little 1 year old sister Mary Ann also died. In the space of one year Thomas lost his wife and both children.

An Ancestral Tragedy - Losing a Wife and 4 Children in 7 Years
The family was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Arkell Ontario. The double tombstone of the little sisters reads

Mary Ann died Dec. 13, 1870 age 1 year, 2 months, 2 days
Catherine died Dec. 9, 1870 age 5 years 7 months 16 days
Children of Thomas W. and Mary A. King

Their death registrations showed both young girls died of Diptheria.

It was not long before Thomas remarried. His next wife was Mary Ann Ramsey and they were married in December 1871 almost one year to the day of his daughter's tragic death. Their first born was a boy who they named Joseph. Joseph was born in December 1872 but sadly in October 1873 at the age of 10 months he died of pneumonia.

Baby Joseph's tombstone in Arkell Cemetery reads

Joseph, son of Thomas W. and Mary A. King died Oct. 2, 1873 age 11 months, 9 days

Death was not yet finished with Thomas. Three years after Joseph died a daughter Mary was born. There may have been other children in between but if so they died young. Little Mary was born in March 1876 but did not live long. In October of that year at the age of 7 months she too passed away.

Her tombstone reads "Our Darling Mary died Oct. 12, 1876 age 7 months, daughter of Thomas W and Mary A. King. Sleep on my Mary in calm repose, though parted for awhile, To _ _ _ _ _ on _ _ _ will join praise And grace your happy smile"

In the space of 7 years Thomas lost his wife and four children. Thomas had more children and went on to marry for a third time in 1904 after Mary Ann Ramsey died. Only 2 daughters survived to adulthood.


ScotSue said...

How hard life was then. A truly tragic tale.

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

I wonder, if those had happened today, if any of those deaths could have been prevented.

Rochester Musings said...

Yes, a lot of those deaths could have been prevented. Many were illnesses we vaccinate for today or have the medical treatment to catch them before they get serious. Illnesses like Typhoid and Diptheria was a death sentence 100 years ago.