Why Did Grandma Never Mention Grandpa in the Diary?

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

Monday, December 14, 1914: <<no entry>>

Raymond Swartz (1915), Senior photo in the Milton High School Yearbook

Raymond Swartz (1915), Senior photo in the Milton High School Yearbook

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

One of the biggest mysteries about Grandma’s diary has never been fully resolved. Grandma obviously knew my grandfather, Raymond Swartz, during the years when she was writing the diary, but she never mentioned him in it. Why?

They both were members of the 1913 graduating class at McEwensville High School. There were only 6 students in the class. But Grandma was 3 ½ years older than Grandpa. She was 18 when they graduated from high school; he was 14 ½ years old. My guess is that he skipped several grades in school.

Recent photo of the building that once was the McEwensville School. The high school was on the second floor. There was an elementary school on the first floor.

Recent photo of the building that once was the McEwensville School. The high school was on the second floor. There was an elementary school on the first floor.

commencement.program.1

1913 commencement program that contains both my grandmother’s and grandfather’s names.

This is what Aunt Eleanor (Grandma’s daughter) said when I asked her when Grandma and Grandpa started dating:

They probably never had much contact with each other outside of school. Geographically they came to and from school and/or church in different directions As I understand it, Daddy finished up at McEwensville and then went to Milton High School for his junior and senior years. Then he continued to farm with his father. My theory is that he started thinking about getting married when he was around 20 or 21 years old and, looking around at the eligible females, remembered that sweet Helen Muffly from school – or maybe church.

I can give you a little more detail about several of the things Aunt Eleanor mentioned. Grandpa lived on a farm south of McEwensville; Grandma on one west of McEwensville. So even though it was a very small community, they would have taken different roads when walking to and from school.

McEwensville High School was an old-fashioned classical high school; whereas Milton High School was a new modern comprehensive one with various programs and tracks that included things like business courses. Some students (like Grandpa) continued their education at Milton after they completed the program at McEwensville.

Photos of Jim Muffly as an Adult

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

Saturday, October 24, 1914:  << no entry>>

Jim Muffly, 1927

Jim Muffly, 1927

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

Yesterday, I posted a photo of Grandma’s younger brother, Jim Muffly. I thought that you might enjoy several additional photos of him across his lifetime.

Jim went to college and became a veterinarian.

Jim & Miriam Muffly

Jim & Miriam Muffly, 1930

Jim married twice. His first wife, Miriam died many years ago. He later married his second wife, Ruth.

His veterinary practice was in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, which was about 10 miles from the farm where Grandma grew up. Much of his work involved treating cows and other farm animals. As described in a previous post, Jim  invented a magnetic retriever that was used to remove nails and other metal from the stomachs of cows that ingested them.

Jim Muffly, 1983

Jim Muffly, 1983

P.S. It’s again Friday, and I have another Friday Update on my author website, Sheryl Lazarus.com. This week I’m working on designing my forthcoming blog about my great aunt who joined the Women’s Army Corps (WACS)–and I could use your help. I came up with several possible design options, but can’t decide which I like the best. If you have a couple minutes, it would be wonderful if you could take a look at them, and vote on your favorite.

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

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