An Auntie for the Second Time

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

Wednesday, May 20, 1914:  This afternoon I learned that I am an “auntie” for the second time. It is a little baby girl. Mingled with this new joy is a dim foreboding.

Besse (Muffly) Hester

Besse (Muffly) Hester (circa 1912)

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


Wow. . . Congratulations on being an auntie once again!

. . . but this has taken us by surprise. . . Why didn’t you ever mention in the diary that your married sister Besse was pregnant?

I understand your sense of foreboding. This is what you wrote in 1912 when Besse had her first baby:

I was an aunt for one brief half a day yesterday, but didn’t know it until this morning. I was so disappointed when I heard it was dead. My little nephew was buried this afternoon. The baby I never saw. I feel like crying, when I think I am an aunt no longer.

April 9, 1912

19 Responses

  1. Oh the infant mortality rate was so very high in those days. Perhaps she didn’t mention it for fear of another tragic loss.

  2. Bless her… xxx

  3. Oh dear. I guess everyone would be in a state of foreboding.

  4. Oh this is such an insightful entry and, indeed, one that resonates very strongly with me.

  5. Social taboos of the time may have kept her from writing about it, especially given that her sister lost the last one…Once Upon a Time, no one would even mention a pregnancy, like there was something ‘dirty’ about it. Thank goodness we’ve gotten over that!

    Hope it turned-out happy this time :)

  6. Sheryl, do you have any idea if this baby survived?

  7. Aw…..evidently I wasn’t reading your blog when Grandma’s sister lost the first baby. Certainly hoping that everything will be/was okay with this baby girl!

  8. Wow! Life’s tragedy suddenly appears in what otherwise seems like a pretty tame diary. You probably know how this baby survives, but the rest of us, I’m sure, are anxious to find out.

  9. Oh this brings home the grim realities of life doesn’t it…hope all went well.

  10. Oh now I understand the foreboding bit. Congratulations Helena, on becoming an auntie again. <3
    Diana xo

  11. I hope the baby will be OK, I assume that her sister does not live near her.

  12. I am really looking forward to an entry all about meeting her new niece for the first time! I hope there is one…

  13. Even across the years we feel ourselves pulling for this new niece and hoping the next entries will confirm her survival.

  14. Aw, I can’t wait to hear more!

  15. A baby girl! What a blessing … As an aunt myself I know how great nieces are, and nephews too! Jane

  16. […] married sister Besse gave birth to a daughter the previous day. Besse lived in the nearby town of Watsontown. She had a baby that died in 1912, and Grandma was […]

  17. […] baby was born two days prior to this diary entry. On May 20, 1914, Grandma […]

  18. […] was worried about her niece the day she was born—but the diary entries the next two days suggested that everything was going to be okay— yet […]

  19. […] mentioned her sense of foreboding the day the infant was born—but did not indicate a serious congenial condition—and had seemed to think that the baby would […]

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