A Friend’s Death

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, April 4, 1912:I heard today of the death of a girlfriend. She died last evening I have not seen her for a long, long time. She was a member of my Sunday School class.

Recent photo of nearby McEwensville. Even though it probably was a beautiful spring day a hundred year ago today, I bet that it felt like a gloomy day to Grandma.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I wonder what happened. It sounds as if the girl had been ill for awhile since Grandma hadn’t seen her in a long time.

My gut feeling is that the girl had juvenile diabetes. Insulin was not available until the 1920’s, and it was relatively common for youth to die of diabetes in the early 1900s. But it might have been an infection . . . or pneumonia . . .  or tuberculosis . . .  or . . .

I wish Grandma had included a name–though the girl probably wasn’t previously mentioned in the diary.

10 Responses

  1. I bet you could figure out who it was if you looked through old obituaries. Girl around your grandma’s age, died April 11/12, 1912… Wouldn’t be too hard to find her, assuming they did put notice in a newspaper.

    • That’s a good idea. It’s always tedious looking through the microfilms of the local paper–but I had been thinking that I should dive into them again. It would be really help me focus to be looking for something in particular. If I find the obituary, I’ll tell you about it in a future post.

  2. My Grandmother was born in1900, so was very close in age to yours. I enjoy reading your posts and thinking about how my GM might have lived back then :)

  3. Some of the most tragic things happen on bright, sunny days, not like the movies where it’s usually raining. I hope you can find her obit.

  4. It would have been sobering for her to hear of a young friend’s death. (my guess would be TB.) hope the hunt for the obituary is successful.

  5. [...] April 4, Grandma wrote in her diary that a friend from Sunday School  had died—but didn’t provide a [...]

  6. [...] that Grandma had been keeping the diary. The first one was mentioned  just five days earlier on April 4, 1912 when a girl from her Sunday School class [...]

  7. [...] Grandma’s life was settling back into normal routines. She’s had a rough week with two deaths—a friend died  after a long illness and her sister Besse’s son died shortly after his [...]

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