Ruth and Bill’s Obituaries

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

Thursday, May 23, 1912:  Miss Carrie was over this afternoon. I was on duty when she came—namely watching cows. Gee, but I don’t like it.

Ruth and I went down to one of our neighbors this evening.

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

Whew, another post about watching the cows. Sounds like a boring job—especially when a friend comes to visit.  Miss Carrie referred to Grandma’s friend Carrie Stout.

Since this post is fairly self-explanatory, I’m going to finish the series of photos and documents that I’ve been posting on Grandma’s sister Ruth and her husband Bill Gauger.

The small  group of photos and clippings that were found after Grandma died included Ruth  and Bill’s obituaries. Grandma was in her 80’s when they died and not in particularly good health herself. I’m a little surprised that she saved them, but very glad she did.

19 Responses

  1. Thank you for this post. Without our ancestor’s paper trail, including a diary and photos, we’d probably know very little about our family’s past.

    • The paper trail is so important. I find that I’m becoming more obsessive about saving family artifacts–and that I’m trying (though only sometimes with success) to better organize things.

  2. Watching the cows does seem a little underwhelming. I wonder who the ‘Artisans of Mutual Protection’ were. Jane

    • I have no idea who the Artisans of Mutual Protection were. . . maybe a lodge? . . . or an insurance company? This sounds like a future research project.

  3. Watching cows does sound pretty tedious – I wonder if Helena had a spot in the shade or if she had to stand out in the hot sun… I agree with corinthrose above – that paper trail is a treasure! I love reading obituaries and I took great care when I wrote one for my mother, to leave as many clues as possible for future generations.

    • I’d never thought about it before I read your comment, but you’re right–it’s very important to write obituaries so that they contain important information for future generations.

      I know that I learned several things from reading the two obituaries that I posted today. For example, I learned that Ruth probably was teaching at a school in Watsontown (rather than in McEwenville) during the 1911-12 school year.

  4. My neighbor has about ten cows that I find very relaxing to watch in the evening as they slowly make their way back home. It is only for 10 to 15 minutes, not a job. I can see it being boring for a teenager who would prefer to spend her time enjoying a visit from her friend.

    • I also enjoy watching cows as they move from the pasture to the barn. A few years ago my son had an apartment that you could see cows from. I loved to watch the cows, though I think he thought it was boring and that his mother was easily entertained. :)

  5. The obituaries are so so precious. Thanks for the sharing Sheryl.

  6. I had this discussion the other day with an Irish friend. He said his job was to watch the cows as a boy and also commented “only if someone had thought to put a book in my hands.” Poetic and spoke volumes. While away the day with only your thoughts and the peace of the countryside. My ggrandmother’s job was to mind the sheep and she took the hairpins from her hair and picked up tufts of wool and twirled them in her fingers and tied them together and taught herself to knit. Clever girl.
    Love the obits – they tell a story and yes, they have all the clues for future generations who hold the same family interest as we do. Thank you for posting.

    • I wonder if Grandma read books, or knitted, or did any other interesting things while watching the cows.

      It seems like there were many things that she could have done to make it less boring; though I suppose, like your friend, that no one may have thought to “put a book in her hands” while she watched the cows.

  7. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to scan several boxes of stuff that an aunt had collected. I expected to be dazzled and enthralled by the pictures, but the obits and funeral cards were treasure troves of information. Bless the aunties and grammies that keep all of these treasures for us.

    • Thank goodness a few of those who went before us saved the obituaries, funeral cards and other memorabilia.

      • I saved the obits and prayer cards in an album from the past. It has lessened in the present day as few order the prayer cards and not everyone buys the paper anymore.

  8. I wonder who watched the cows when the kids were in school all year. Did they have to stay in the barn until summer?

    • Now, Kristin’s comment reminds me of when my mother was kept out of school to mind her uncle’s horse while he had his dinner (being lunch) and I asked her who minded the horse when they were sleeping and she said she didn’t think of that. Funny.

      • I love your story. . it’s great.

        Your post makes me think about how once upon a time things that seem like they’ve been around forever now were considered new technology and changed the work that people did. For example, barbed wire and electric fencing have really reduced the need for people to watch cows (or horses). :)

    • They probably stayed in the barn and ate hay during the winter–but I would have thought that the cows would have been put out in the pasture in the spring and fall when Grandma was in school. Maybe her mother (or father) watched them then????

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