Monday, August 10, 2009

Baby Elisabeth

No stitchy pictures for you; I'm working on the border for BOAF Friendship Sampler, but you'll have to wait for a photo update later in the week. (If you are only interested in stitching updates, then you probably don't want to read any further. Just come back and visit me another day!)

On Saturday morning, before it got humid, sticky, and hot, my mother and I went to an old cemetary in St. Paul. We went to visit my mother's sister's grave. My mother is the youngest of 10 children; there were 23 years between the oldest and my mom, she is the only sibling still living. In 1913, my grandparents welcomed their fourth child, a girl, and they named her Elisabeth. Exactly eight months later, she died. When she died, my grandmother was already pregnant with child #5. (An interesting little side note is that child #7, born in 1918, was a girl and they named her Elizabeth too --with a "z" instead of an "s"-- we always thought this was kind of interesting.) Anyway, no one really knew much about this baby that died, no one remembered her exact date of birth or exactly when she died or why she died.

One of my cousins and I dabble in geneaology (actually, I am the one who dabbles, she's serious about her dabbling!) Two years ago, we were determined to find out more about baby Elisabeth. We were pretty sure that she was at one of the older cemetaries in St. Paul as this is where many other family members are buried. A short visit to the cemetary office confirmed that she was there! They provided us with a map and told us how to find her burial spot; the only problem was that there was no stone to mark the grave; we would have to use other markers to find her.

We weren't surprised that her grave was unmarked because the family certainly didn't have the means in 1914 to buy a stone. This didn't sit right with us. The two of us agreed that one day we would purchase a stone to mark her grave.

Fast forward to 2009 - my cousin was in town visiting this spring and we decided to pursue this a little bit more. We needed to locate birth and death certificates so that we had correct dates and we wanted to know how/why she died. Even though I had been unsuccessful before, I went to the MN Historical Society website to locate either a birth or death certificate. This time I managed to find her birth certificate; the last name was misspelled on the birth certificate which would explain why I hadn't found it before. To our surprise, the date of her death was also noted on the birth certificate (perhaps the birth certificate was first filed when she died?) We couldn't locate a copy of the death certificate online, but a trip to the Vital Statistics office and the work of a clerk who knew her way around the older records yielded a death certificate for us. Baby Elisabeth had died from tubercular meningitis. How sad it must have been for my grandparents; how lucky they were that their other children did not get sick.

Now that we had the information we needed, we knew exactly what we wanted to do. Her grave is now marked so that future generations will be able to find her; baby Elisabeth will never be forgotten.



My mom thought that it was a silly thing to spend money on, but I think that after visiting the grave with me on Saturday she feels differently.

I think now that I would like to select a special sampler to stitch and perhaps stitch Elisabeth's initials or her name in it as a remembrance...any suggestions?

32 comments:

Daffycat said...

Oh, Kathy! What a lovely story. Thank you so much for sharing this!

marykathryn said...

I loved reading this. I think you should consider A Child's Prayer by With My Needle as a sampler to honor your little Aunt Elisabeth.

~Judy~ said...

I think that was a very sweet thing to do.

Kim B said...

I am so glad I am a follower of your blog so that I didn't accidentally miss this entry. What a beautiful story and a beautiful testament to the love that lives on within a family even through generations.

Lelia said...

Oh my - what a beautiful post. thx for sharing. I"m not sure about a sampler -- nothing comes to mind right now. Perhaps after a trip to the LNS I"ll see something special.

The last time I did a stitched project for a baby was the La D Da, now I lay me down to sleep

What a beautiful marker! What a beautiful story to share : )

Lisa said...

Ooh I have goosebumps after reading this lovely story, how generous of you to place a stone for her. I think I would have done the same thing. My Grandad is buried with his parents, but only his mothers name is on the gravestone, this has always upset me as my Great Grandad, Grandad and now my Nana are here aswell and I think they should be noted as resting there also, however it is all the way in England and I am here is Australia and I dont know what to do to have this changed. I might have to wait till I visit again and see what can be done.

nima said...

Oh Kathy...that is so nice of you. thank you for sharing it with us.
I think it is a great idea to make a sampler to honor her

Suzanne said...

What a wonderful thing to do. I think it is very important to have family information and to remember the past. It's all too easy for family members to be forgotten and disappear into obscurity. Trust me I know as I am trying to put together information about my DH's and my families with little success.

Tessa said...

What a lovely thing to do for your Aunt.
This Blackbird Designs Freebie might be appropriate, especially if you read some of the competition entries
http://www.dashdist.com/blackbird/redsampler.pdf
http://blackbird-designs.blogspot.com/2009/04/our-first-contest.html

karenv said...

What a wonderful thing for you to do for your baby Aunt. Thank you for sharing this touching story.

Nic said...

What a touching story. It is nice to know Elisabeth will not be forgotten.

I was going to suggest the Blackbird Sampler freebie too, but perhaps you would like something more substantial?

FayeRaye said...

I just loved this story! I agree with marykathryn...A childs prayer would be so nice! But I am sure you will find to right design. You are inspiring and this is an awesome thing to do! Faye

Arthemise said...

What an interesting story! I think you did a good thing. Poor baby.

Susan said...

That was one of the sweetest posts I have ever read.

Pen Pen said...

What an awesome story!! My grandmother had a daughter named Doris who died... she later named another daughter Doris. How sweet that Elizabeth now has a beautiful marker.

lynda said...

what a beautiful marker, and a lovely thing for you to do. I was also going to suggest the BBD freebie that appeared a short while ago. I look forward to seeing what you decide.

Kathy said...

I think it was a sweet thing to do to place a headstone for the little angel.

I recently had my great grandfather's name included on a headstone. Unfortunately I can't include his wife, my ggrandmother, as there is no proof that she is buried with him. Common sense says she is but no proof.

Dee L said...

What a heartfelt and heart-warming thing to do. Thank you for sharing. I am watching my first grandchild who is 2 months old and my heart is so full. I cannot imagine losing a baby.

Colleen said...

What a touching story and so generous of you and your cousin to mark Elisabeth's resting place. We all should be remembered no matter how much or how little time we spend on this earth.

DonnaTN said...

Thank you for sharing your family story. I'm glad someone suggested the Blackbird Designs sampler. It is exactly what I thought of for your commemorative tribute.

Karrie said...

What a lovely thing to do! Thank you for sharing :)

Tuula said...

What a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it to us! And how good of you to fix the stone.

I have a friend whos older sister died before my friend was even born. The parents have had her grave well taken care of but never a stone with her name on it. Now when the father died, nearly fifty years later, there´ll be a stone and her name is going to be on it too. I feel sort of good about this, because I feel that she is remembered.

Vonna said...

Here I sit crying....
How WONDERFUL Cathy, sincerely, that is the best thing you could have done for a little baby that lived and died...now she's always remembered. God Bless you Cathy....

Kristin said...

Thanks for making me cry. Sheesh. Love you.

CindyMae said...

I don't think it silly to spend money on something like that at all! that is just awesome that you two did that. What a gorgeous stone too! Thanks for sharing this story with us!!

Sharon said...

What an absolutely beautiful thing you and your cousin have done! Thanks for sharing that.

TattingChic said...

I don't think that is a silly thing at all to spend money on! WHat a kind and sweet thing to do...not only for the deceased one, but for generations to come as they do their geneaology. It's so important to connect with our family...both the living and those who have passed on. I find what you did very touching.

Katrina said...

What a great story! I think it's wonderful you bought a grave marker.

My MIL is seriously into the geneaolgy stuff too. She sent my husband to a small town about two hors from us because she found out her great-great grandfather died there. He got death certificate for her :-).

WendyJo said...

A sampler would be a wonderful way to honor your Aunt. Thanks for sharing this Cathy..very touching....

Michele said...

I'm behind on reading blogs .. but I'm so glad I didn't miss this story about your family and about Elisabeth. What a sweet ending. You and your cousin did the right thing :)

Marianne said...

What a sweet and wonderful gesture! I love the lamb on the stone. It was such a touching story and I thank you for sharing it with us. The Blackbird Designs Red Sampler has been mentioned and that was the first thing that came to my mind as well. You can personalize it with her name, a date, a bird, angel, or maybe find a sweet lamb to put on it. Pick a color that calls to you!

Lilibet said...

that was such a lovely story! I found your blog entry by typing 'baby Elisabeth' into google.

Why?

Because I visited a cemetery recently, a very, very old one. In fact, the church was a log church.

In the graveyard, alone, was a baby Elizabeth. She had died at four years old (more of a toddler than a baby, but still...). She was all alone and her date of death was 1883.

I was completely struck with this little grave and by the young Elizabeth. I couldn't find any information online about her, although her family were original pioneer settlers from Germany (this is in Canada).

I was struck by that story, and yours. I am trying to name a baby girl and I think Elisabeth is a beautiful name.