Monday, October 22, 2012

A Mother's Loss


My Third Great Grandmother

me --> Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan --> Alice Houston Rasmussen --> John Cooper Houston --> Lucy Rebecca Cooper Houston --> Lydia Ellen Rochester Cooper

Whenever I hear someone say that the pioneer women didn't mourn for the loss of their babies the way we do because death was so common, I feel a little tug at my heart.

 It's almost as if my ancestors are saying, "Tell them that isn't true."

I found a story about my third great grandmother, Lydia, that helps me understand that just because death was more common, it didn't hurt any less than it does now.

After Lydia and her husband, William, joined the church and left Georgia, they moved to Holladay, Utah.
There both she and her sister, Mary Hannah, were sealed to William in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.

A year later, Mary Hannah gave birth to a son, Asbury Rubin,  who died a month later and was buried in the cemetery there.

Soon after, obeying Brigham Young's command, the Cooper family moved to Provo, Utah to escape threats of war and lived in their wagon and a dugout.  That's when Lydia gave birth to her first child in Utah.  His name was William Darby Rochester Cooper.  He was named after his father, and his middle name was his grandmother's maiden name.  Soon after, the family returned to their home in Holladay.

Little Bill, as he was called by his family, was William's pride and joy.  He was his namesake and their first born since making such major changes in their lives.  He died just a couple weeks shy of his 6-month birthday.  He was buried next to his little brother, Asbury.

Just four months later, Brigham Young called the Cooper family to a mission--to move to southern Utah and settle Washington County.  Before they left, Lydia buried Little Bill's favorite toys at the head of his grave.
Every time they returned to Salt Lake for a visit, she visited Little Bill's grave.  She checked to make sure the toys were still there.  They always were.

Years later, in 1926, her daughter went to put a marker on Little Bill's and Asbury's graves.  Wind and weather had destroyed the nearby grave stones and she couldn't find their little graves in the overgrown weed-covered cemetery.  Then over 100 years after their deaths, the grandchildren of William, Lydia and Mary Hannah, decided they would make new grave markers for these two little babies.  They placed a small marker in the Cooper lot in Washington County.

Note: The dates don't match the family record I have of Little Bill's birth and death.
Knowing that Lydia buried his precious toys at the head of his grave, visited his grave whenever she could, had a daughter who wanted to mark his grave, and had grandchildren who decided to create a tombstone to mark his life and death, tells me that she mourned his death just as much as any mother would mourn the death of her baby.  They may have experienced more loss and death than us, but they still grieved like us.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.