Sewing and Chatting. . . and Hopefully Feeling Better

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

Tuesday, June 9, 1914:  Besse came out today to spend part of the week and get her sewing done.

Left to right: Helena (seated), Besse, Jimmie, Ruth (circa 1912)

Left to right: Helena (seated), Besse, Jimmie, Ruth (circa 1912)

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

The few words in a diary entry sometimes don’t even  begin to convey the full story. This time I (and many of you) can fill in a few of the gaps. . .

Grandma’s married sister Besse recently lost a baby. The three-day-old infant died on May 23. This was her second newborn to die. She also lost a baby in 1912.

There’s no place like home. It can be a wonderful place to spend a few days sewing and regrouping.

 

Signature Analysis, 1912 and 1914 Birth Certificates

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

Sunday, May 24 – Thursday, May 28, 1914: Nothing much doing.

hester death certificate 1912

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

This is the fourth of five days that Grandma lumped together into one diary entry. Her infant niece, the daughter of her sister Besse, died on May 23. Yesterday’s post contained the death certificate for the baby.

This was the second baby of Besse and Curt Hester that died in infancy—they previously lost one in 1912. On April 9, 1912, Grandma wrote:

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.

When Maryann Holloway saw yesterday’s post, she did a little research and found the death certificate of the baby who died in 1912. Thank you Maryann! I greatly appreciate you locating it—and then sharing it with me.

Both babies died of cyanosis which refers to a bluish skin color. The babies may have been premature and had  immature lungs, or perhaps a heart condition. The baby born in 1914 also had spina bifida.

One thing that jumped out when I looked at the two death certificates was that the infants’ father, D. Curt Hester, signed them both. And, that his signature looked more wobbly in 1914 than in 1912.

1914

1914

hester death certificate 1912.signature

1912

I can’t begin to imagine the stress and emotions that he was feeling when he signed those documents. The baby in 1914 lived 3 days before she died. At least to me, Curt’s signature in 1914 suggests, that he was exhausted and totally wiped out when he had to help complete the death certificate. Whew, what a sad task for a young father!

I continue to be amazed at the help and kindness of my readers. One reader found the death certificate of the baby born in 1914—and then another found the death certificate of the one born in 1912. Thanks again, Maryann and Agnette.

An aside– You might enjoy reading Maryann’s blog, If I Had a Time Machine. It contains interesting historical anecdotes for each day.

Baby Hester’s Death Certificate

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

Sunday, May 24 – Thursday, May 28, 1914: Nothing much doing.

Hester baby death certificate 5 23 1914

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

Sometimes posts just write themselves. This is one of those times.

This is the  third of five days that Grandma lumped together into one diary entry. Her infant niece, the daughter of her sister Besse, died on May 23.

My readers are awesome. I owe Agnette a huge thank you for finding the death certificate for the baby. I’m still tingling with amazement that she took the time to search for it—and that she found it.

Sunday was a busy day—and I sat down to write the post for today at about 9 p.m. last night. I was unsure what to write—and then I glanced at the comments I’d recently received. There was Agnette’s comment and a link to the death certificate.

The death certificate affirms the information in the diary. I can’t quite make out the first listed cause of death—Does anyone have any ideas? –but was surprised that the second cause was Spina Bifida.

Grandma 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 be okay in the next diary entry. I’m surprised she didn’t mention something related to the Spina Bifida.

This makes me wonder if Besse’s first baby, who also died in infancy, had Spina Bifida. And, it makes me appreciate doctors’ recommendations today that women make sure that they get adequate amounts of folic acid prior to conception to help decrease the likelihood that the baby will have Spina Bifida.

The death certificate says that the baby was buried at River Church Cemetery. I wasn’t sure where it was—so I googled it. An Ancestry.com message board popped up. According the one of the comments on the message board:

The River Church is St. John’s Delaware Run Lutheran Church, located on Musser Lane, Watsontown. Because this is a rural area, it is actually closer to Dewart (about a mile) than Watsontown (about 2 1/2 miles).

I don’t know of any family connections to this church, but perhaps the Hesters’ attended it.

I’m still tingling—so many pieces of the puzzle are fitting together with this death certificate. Thanks again, Agnette!

The Little Life So Soon Begun Is Ended

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

Saturday, May 23, 1914: The little life so soon begun is ended.

DSC02375Recent photo of the house Besse lived in when I was a child. I’m not sure if this was where she lived in 1914.

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

Oh. . . Grandma,

I’m so sorry. What happened? . . . Are you okay? . . . How’s Besse doing?

Grandma’s three-day-old niece died. She was the daughter of Grandma’s older sister Besse and her husband Curt.

Grandma 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 obviously something went wrong.

I try never to go ahead in the diary—yet somehow it doesn’t feel quite right that I didn’t clue all of you in that it wasn’t going to be a happy ending. I apologize if I should have foreshadowed the pending death.

This has been a hard series of posts to write. It almost feels like all of this is happening in real time—not a hundred years ago—to people I love and care about.

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:

Grandma—

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

Muffly Magnetic Retriever Used to Remove Metal Objects from Cows’ Stomachs

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

Thursday, December 4, 1913:  Ditto.

muffly_retriever.2The New Improved Muffly  Magnetic Retriever

Is now available through your favorite supplier or direct from

Dr. John W. Vandeven, D.V. M. , Bellesville, Pa. 17004

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

The “ditto” refers to  a diary entry the previous day which said, “Nothing—That word I have good use for.”

One of the things that I really enjoy about blogging is how I occasionally get comments from wonderful people who knew my Grandma or other relatives. It is awesome to learn more about family members and what they were like.

I tingled with excitement when I read Pat Lukas’s recent comment, and  I’d like to thank Pat for sharing information that she had about Grandma’s little brother, Jim Muffly.  Jim did some amazing things.

Jim became a veterinarian with a practice in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  I learned from Pat that he was also an inventor.

This is what Pat wrote in her comment:

At this very moment I am looking at the “Program of the 101st Annual AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) Meeting” which took place in Chicago in July of 1964. James A. Muffly, V.M.D. exhibited his invention for charging magnets which were used to remove metal, such as nails and bailing wire, from the stomachs of cattle.

I remember Dr. Muffly. My father, John Vandeven, D.V.M., worked with him to develop the design for the Muffly Magnetic Retriever and helped him market it. I also remember seeing my father use the retriever on dairy cows.

Pat was kind enough to share the cover of the 1964 American Veterinary Medical Association Meeting program and the page that describes Jim Muffly’s invention in the program, as well as a copy of an advertising flyer for the invention.

Muffly.AVMA cover-1

Dr. Muffly-2

Pat shared information from an article that her father wrote about the Muffly Magnetic Retriever that appeared in the May 1965 issue of Modern Veterinary Practice which provides a sense of the economic importance that the invention had in helping small farmers who had sick cows. It said on page 65 of the article:

In a herd of 55 Holstein cows, 13 were vomiting. Although hardware might have been ruled out because so many animals were affected, 7 lbs. of electric fence wire pieces and various other metal objects up to 5 inches in length were retrieved from 53 of these cows.

Pat also wrote:

My father considered Dr. Muffly a very good friend. The impression I carry of Dr. Muffly is that of a kind and gentle person.

The information Pat gave me started a snowball that led to the discovery of Jim Muffly’s patent.   My son Nathan was recently home over Thanksgiving and I mentioned the Muffly Magnetic Retriever to him.

Nathan said, “I wonder if we could find the patent for Jim Muffly’s invention.”

And, within minutes he’d found Jim Muffly’s 1956 patent for the instrument that could be used to remove metal from cows stomachs.

The tool Jim Muffly developed was flexible and could be maneuvered into the cow’s stomach. Nathan also found where Jim Muffly’s invention had been cited in several more recent patent applications as a basis for those inventions—including several applications for inventions of human catheters.

Thank you Pat and Nathan for all of the wonderful information.  It’s fun to learn more about an awesome relative.

___

If you’d like to see pictures of Jim Muffly you might enjoy a previous post:

What Ever Happened to Jimmie Muffly? 

Aunt Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Uncle Homer Derr Across the Years

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

Saturday, November 22, 1913:  Nothing of importance.

Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Homer Derr (circa, 1955)

Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Homer Derr (circa, 1955)

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

Today I’m sharing a photo of an aunt and uncle of Grandma’s that was taken years after this diary was written. In the process of doing research for yesterday’s post about the funeral of Grandma’s maternal grandfather, I came across the picture and thought you might enjoy seeing what they looked like in their later years.

The picture is of Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Homer Derr.  Homer died in 1958, so It probably was  taken in the mid- 1950s. They were the two youngest children of John and Sarah Derr. I’m also including the group shot of the Derr family that was taken around 1900, so you can see what they looked like when they were young.

John and Sarah Derr Family. Taken about 1900. L to R. Front Row: John, Annie (Derr) Van Sant, Sarah. Back Row: Miles, Fuller, Alice (Derr) Krumm, Elmer, Phoebe (Derr) Muffly, Judson, Homer. Phoebe was the mother of Helena.

John and Sarah Derr Family. Taken about 1900. L to R. Front Row: John, Annie (Derr) Van Sant, Sarah. Back Row: Miles, Fuller, Alice (Derr) Krumm, Elmer, Phoebe (Derr) Muffly, Judson, Homer. Phoebe was the mother of Helena.

Annie is front and center, and Homer is on the far right.

Homer spent much of his career as a college professor at several universities including the school that is now called South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. At different schools he taught different subjects—including math and physics. He even wrote a publication that you can still buy today on Amazon called A Method of Petrographic Analysis, Based upon Chromatic Interference with Thin Sections of Doubly Refracting Crystals in Polarizing Light. (I would appreciate it if someone could explain to me in plain English what it is about.)

Annie was the widow of a doctor and lived in Turbotville, Pennsylvania (which is just a few miles from McEwensville).

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