So, I've told you about how I've done a little traveling this summer, and unearthed/been handed some gems about our family's history along the way. In an earlier post, I included a photo of Grandpa Dave when he was a young man -- probably sitting around a fire in a Wyoming sheep camp, or some such.
But more exciting, I think, is today's photo -- an old tintype in cousin Marsha's possession. If you click that link, it's a Wikipedia explanation about tintypes, which, its author claims, were popular at fairs and and other gatherings, and offered almost instant photos. My guess is that this photo -- of Hyrum and Julia Ann Lindsay Henderson, Hyrum's mother Elizabeth Harris Henderson, and their children -- was taken shortly before a diphtheria epidemic in July 1880 that claimed six of those children pictured within a month's time.
The baby in Julia's lap must be Laura Louise, who was born Aug. 13, 1879. She looks to be less than 1 year old. (She lived to age 8, dying in Basin, Cassia County, Idaho.) So my assumption is that this photo was taken in early 1880.
Here's a ghastly timeline:
On July 10, 1880, Elizabeth Celestine passes. (Since she's one of four identical twins in the family, I'm guessing which of the two oldest she is.)
On July 18, 1880, Rosilla passes. (Again, since she's one of four identical twins in the family, I'm guessing which of the two younger twins she is.)
On July 21, 1880, Priscilla and Samuel pass.
The next day, July 22, 1880, Hazel Hazeltine passes.
Then, finally, on July 28, 1880, Hannah Abigail passes.
Sort of hard to get your head around, isn't it? Six of their beloved children died in 18 days.
This story has always haunted and fascinated me, especially when I discovered that all six children were buried in Vernal, Utah -- three hours southeast of Salt Lake City (and where my Grandfather Porter, who died in 1974, is buried). Why so odd? Here's where the family was living according to when their children were born:
- 1866-1879 -- Oxford, Franklin County, Idaho.
- 1880 -- Vernal, Uintah County, Utah.
- 1881 -- Liberty, Bear Lake County, Idaho
- 1883 -- Basin, Cassia County, Idaho
My curiosity, then, coincided with a business trip to Vernal a couple of weeks ago. I visited the cemetery to photograph my grandfather's gravemarker -- Fotomat ruined the two rolls of film I took at his funeral 36 years ago -- and to visit the six graves of my long-lost great aunts and uncle.
Their graves were on the map, and I verified them with the sexton in the cemetery office. Here's what I found for our six ancestors:
I don't know what I expected, but it was more than this. Two sandstone markers, weathered smooth by 130 years. I wondered if anyone had ever visited them. And I was sad that this was all that marked the existence of those six souls that even our Grandpa Dave didn't know, since he was born three years later.
I haven't even looked into it yet, but I wonder if it would be terribly expensive to have a marker -- maybe just a simple metal one -- made to list their names. Anyone else think this might be a good idea? Either way, let me know.