Monday, February 17, 2014

Dead Wisner Children

This fall, I came across a cache of pictures that I didn't know existed of my wife's family. So not only was it awesome to find pictures that I didn't know existed, but also within the pictures was some more info that I didn't have. Like pictures of children that had died young, and had the unfortunate timing of being born and dying in between the 10 year censuses, making it more difficult to find info on them. I know that child deaths were more common as you go back 100 years or more, but when you come across pictures of children that died, it makes them a little more real.

George Albert Wisner (1829-1905) and Julia Ann (Barto)(1843-1924) had 4 children that we know of: May Ellen, Lawrence Smith, Mattie Irene and Guy Clifford. Based on the dates when George and Julia's children were born, they may have had some other children that died. However it's the children that lived and their families that I have pictures of, and now have knowledge of previously unknown children.

So first, I know the most about the Lawrence Smith Wisner family (my wife's great great grandparents). Here is their portrait as I had come to know their family: Lawrence, Martha (Morey) and their son Raymond.

1910 Lawrence S Wisner Family

They had another son that I had discovered had died when he was 3 years old. In the box of pictures I found one of him and it may be the only one that exists. His name was Frank Morey Wisner and he died in 1906 at the age of 3. Here are the 2 brothers together:

Raymond and Frank Wisner ca 1903

Lawrence's older sister May Ellen Wisner married Andrew T Jackson. I knew that they had 3 children: George Elvin, Herbert Andrew and May, but on the back of this family portrait it shows the names of the children in the picture, but one I hadn't seen before: James M.

May (Wisner) & Andrew Jackson Family 1908

This photo was dated 1908. May was born around 1909. So James was born around 1904 and died between when this photo was taken in 1908 and 1910 when the census was. Here is another photo of James when he was a year old.

James Jackson ca 1905

The younger sister of Lawrence and May was Mattie Irene Wisner. It looks like she was called Aunt Irene based on writing on photos. She married Charles Bonner Anderson and had 3 children: Florence, and twins Frank and Laura. Here is the portrait of the family that I have, and it's missing Florence:

Mattie Irene (Wisner) & Charles Anderson Family

Florence was born in 1898 and died in 1902. Here is a picture that I now have of her:

Florence Anderson ca1901

Now May, Lawrence and Irene had another brother named Guy, and he never married to my knowledge. Few pictures of him exist and so it was nice to find a couple with him in them. This is Lawrence and Guy together (Guy is standing):

Tin Type - Lawrence Wisner Sit Guy Wisner Stand

So I guess the greater point that I discovered is the fact that the 3 families of Lawrence, May and Irene all lost 1 child in each of their families sometime during 1905-1910. Then add to that that their dad George Wisner died in 1905. That's just a whole lot of death happening in a few short years. No one is currently living who would remember these children, but if it wasn't for these few photos in a small box that were buried in a closet and forgotten, it's almost as if these children never existed.

As for Guy, he died in 1954 at the age of 74. My father in law remembers him, and I'm sure there are more his age and older that have memories too, but since Guy never married he didn't have a family legacy to pass down. I was thinking on that and realized that he is also almost like a child that died, with no descendants to pass on his name and no blood line to show that he existed. I haven't even been able to find were he was buried.

In the end though, will it matter if any of us have lived? After death will we remember life? I kinda think that in heaven, most things of earth won't matter and there will only be happiness.

1 comment:

  1. The death of a child is always sad, and it was certainly more common before the advent of better medical care. I doubt that the parents of these lost little ones ever forgot them even if successive generations did.