Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Family tragedy?

I discovered something so very sad yesterday. Although it happened more than 100 years ago, it has left me grieving.

I was browsing through the genealogical websites, looking for more details to flesh out my knowledge of my husband's forbears. I have been focussing recently on a branch of the family which was in the brush manufacturing business, as I have been trying to complete a history of the business which had been partly written by another family member in the 1950s.

The original brush maker had been christened Davis, which was his mother's maiden name, and he gave his name to the firm when his two youngest sons joined him to learn the business. Family pride led succeeding generations to name their sons Davis too, and the business remained in family hands from its foundation in 1861 until it was finally sold to a larger company in 1999.

As I browsed, I suddenly saw an entry for a Davis I had not come across before, born in 1879. I checked him out and found that he was the first-born son of Davis the second, grandson of the founder. I also quickly saw that he had died in 1889. The website was offering access to images of the actual pages of the Register of Deaths Index, so I decided to have a look.

There was the entry for Davis, aged 9; and there, right next to him, was an entry for his father Davis, aged 43........ I had not previously realised that the elder Davis had died so young, and the impact of these two entries side by side was chilling. What could have happened? The early history of the business recorded only that in 1889 "the happy partnership of the brothers was rudely shattered by the death of Davis II".

I need to know. I have sent off for copies of the two death certificates, and in a couple of weeks' time I should have the answer. Can there possibly be an explanation that is not tragic, or at the very least most miserably coincidental?


Sheila Joynes' Musical Diary said...
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Sheila Joynes' Musical Diary said...

How very sad, Judith, especially for those left behind, whatever the cause was. Yes, you must find out - and let us know, please.
I find it amazing how these people we are researching become so very close and real to us in spite of our having very little knowledge of their characters. On the other hand, the whole reason for looking at their lives is that they do "belong" to us in a very real way.

Maggie May said...

We have also researched into family history & found some very distressing things. Our ancestors have become very familiar & when we researched into their death certificates, they often died young of illnesses that could be cured today. Scarlet fever was a killer and all those little babies that died under a year old.
Hope you find out more about yours.

Lee said...

Sounds ominous. Not a happy tale, I vouch.