Tag Archives: died young

Generation after Generation


When studying my ancestors, I think about their lives.  I think about the hardships they endured.  What I find was so common in past generations is early deaths, deaths of children or young adults.  When trying to piece together the family of a great-grandmother or a great-grandfather, I’ll find children who died. I find that so sad and think about how the mother must have grieved for her child.  I’ll find young mothers who died in childbirth, young adults who died of influenza, pneumonia, or appendicitis.  Today these kinds of things are very curable.  In so many other ways we have it better than the generations before us.  We have the advantage of modern medicine.  We have the conveniences of dishwashers, microwaves, washing machines, dryers, vacuum  cleaners, refrigerators, indoor plumbing.  We also have things that entertain us such as TV’s, radios, smart phones, computers, and the Internet.  Information is at our finger tips.  Want a book to read tonight? Download an e-book to your eReader.  Need to go to the store?  Hop in your car and your there in a few minutes, no matter time of day or night.   You don’t have to go back very far to remember when there was no Internet, cell phones, electronic games, microwaves, etc.

Socially we have become accustomed to women working outside the home, people living together and having children, abortions, mixed race couples and children, gay marriage, and now we are dealing with transgender bathrooms.  Generations ago no one ever thought about these things.   So it makes one wonder if we are better off today than generations ago.

Back when people didn’t have the conveniences and access to information at their fingertips, their lives seemed simpler in a lot of ways.  Men went to work, and women stayed home to take care of children and house.  Each had their role, and I think for the most part were satisfied.  At least it seemed that way in my family.  I think my mom and grandmother were content to stay home.  They did things to keep busy and save money that is lost today because working women just don’t have time to do it.  They sewed, baked, cooked from scratch, washed clothes in a wringer washing machine, hung them out to dry, and then had to iron them.  They cleaned the house made sure the children were fed, washed, loved, did their homework, and went to bed at a decent time.  They made sure we ate dinner together every night. When they went grocery shopping they didn’t always have a car so they walked and pulled a wagon for their groceries.  Milk and bread were delivered.  If you lived on a farm there was even more to be done.  Come fall they would start canning all the vegetables they grew during the summer months or the fruit from the fruit trees.  My grandmother would make crabapple and grape jelly from the grapes and crabapples in her own yard.  They gave us chores to do to.  It might be the kids that washed the dishes, cut the grass, took out the garbage, shoveled the snow, and whatever else they could find for us to do.   Sunday we went to church in the morning and later that day the whole family got together for a meal, and we just enjoyed each other’s company and talk about the week.  Saturday night might be a night that friends got together and played cards and talked while the kids played.

I think some of the things we have today are nice and I wouldn’t want to do without them.  I do however worry about family traditions.  Even in our small family as much as I try to keep some of them, it’s a losing battle, the younger generation seems like they just don’t value the same things.  We still have holiday dinners and even some Sunday dinners.  But everyone is in a hurry to finish and go back to watching football, baseball, or whatever the sport may be at the moment, or they are looking at their phones and messaging their friends, or on the computer, or playing a video game.  No one wants to sit and have a conversation or play a board game where we can all be together.  I think there will come a time when they will regret it.  These distractions were not around when my parents were here so I actually spent time with them.   I miss them, and I would give anything to have one more conversation with them.

I picture in years to come that there will be no one around to be the one to carry on family traditions and dinners.  Everyone will eat whenever and whatever they want.  They will spend all their time online, texting who knows who, and not know their own family members.  Hope I am wrong!  Only time will tell.

Daily Prompt: Generation

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst


Honoring Ancestors who died too young: Ruth Kaiser


Ruth is not exactly an ancestor of mine, but I have heard about Ruth since I was a little girl.  Ruth was my grandfather’s first wife.  He was married to her a little over a year when she died.

Ruth was born Ruth Muzzey on September 5, 1898 in DeKalb, DeKalb, Illinois.  She married Fred Kaiser on October 28, 1920 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  She died November 8, 1921.  According to her death certificate she died of Eclampsia (seizures and coma that happen during pregnancy but are not due to pre-existing or organic brain disorders), pregnancy and uremic coma.  Secondary condition was Pyebitis Pyonephrosis.

I had to look these medical terms up to understand what exactly happened.  From what I can deduce is that she had a pre-existing kidney condition before becoming pregnant.  According to her death certificate the doctor treated her for Pyebitis Pyonephrosis (a kidney condition) for 11 months and 20 days.  I remember my grandmother saying that Ruth was told that she should not get pregnant, but she did and it caused her death.  The death certificate also states that the doctor treated her for the Eclampsia and pregnancy from September 1 though November 8, 1921.  A Cesarean Section was preformed prior to death.  It does not say how far along she was in her pregnancy.

Once again, I felt for my grandfather.  In April of 1919 he lost his brother to Influenza, then 2 ½ years later he loses his wife and child.  It seems like more than one could bear.

Then I wondered about Ruth’s family, her parents, brothers and sisters.  I never heard anything about Ruth’s family of origin.  What I did hear about Ruth came from my grandmother, not my grandfather.  I never heard my grandfather talk about Ruth.  My grandmother was a Ruth’s friend so she is the one that kept Ruth’s memory alive.  But I could not remember Grandma saying anything about Ruth’s family.  Maybe she did, but back then it really didn’t mean anything to me.  Even after starting genealogy, I just ignored her until recently because she was not a blood relative.

I had to find her on the censuses to get a glimpse into her life. I also found her family tree on Ancestry.  It looks like she was the youngest of seven children.  She was 10 years younger than her next closest sibling.    Her father and one brother preceded Ruth in death.  Ruth’s mother and other siblings died after Ruth. The last of her siblings died in 1966.  I wonder if they were close to her and what their thoughts were when she died.  Apparently, they did not keep in touch with my grandfather.  I think I would have heard if he were in touch with Ruth’s family.  Too bad I was too young at the time to ask the right questions.

Another thing that struck me in researching her life was that there was a cesarean section done.  What happened to the baby?  There was never any mention of the baby.  I assumed it died too.  That started me thinking that there should be a birth and/or death record.  I was able to find a death record on Familysearch.  It was just an index entry, they did not have a picture of the original.  However, I did get some information from the index. Here is the information from the index.

Name:  Kaiser; Death Date:  8 November 1921; Gender: Male; Birth Date: 8 November 1921;  Birth Place:  Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Father: Fred Kaiser; Father’s Birth Place:  Chicago, IL; Mother: Ruth Muzzey; Mother’s Birth Place: IL.

I wonder if the baby was near full-term or born premature.  If premature, how premature was it?  Apparently, the baby was never given a first name.  What happened to the baby?  Was he buried? Cremated?  I know he is not buried near his mother because I have been to Ruth’s grave.  She is buried on one side of my grandfather, and my grandmother is buried on the other side of my grandfather. Also buried there are my grandfather’s parents, his brother, and my mother and father.

Did Grandpa think of Ruth on their wedding anniversary (October 28) or on the anniversary of her death (November 8) and the birth & death of his son?  I will never know, but I would hope that he did think of them on those days. How sad to think not only of Ruth’s early death, but the death of her baby too.  Two lives that ended too soon.  So in honoring Ruth’s life, I am also honoring that of her baby boy too.

Honoring Ancestor’s who died too young: Hugo Kaiser


Hugo (year unknown)

A few weeks ago I wrote about Genevieve Bowers who died at age 20 of appendicitis.  A lot of people seemed to relate to this story.  This got me to thinking about other ancestors who died at a young age.  Of course they are not direct line ancestors as most of these people died before they had a chance to marry and have children.

Today I decided to write about my grandfather’s brother.

Hugo Emil Kaiser was born on January 26, 1899 in Chicago, Illinois to Wilhelmina Springer and Rudolf Kaiser.   Hugo died on April 11, 1919 of Influenza during the third wave of the Influenza epidemic.  His secondary condition causing death was Bronchial Pneumonia.  More people died during this epidemic which started in 1918 than died in World War I.  Hugo was working in a cigar factory at the time he contacted the Influenza.  Once again a young person struck down by an illness before he had a chance to live his life.  One wonders what his life might have been like or how his life would have influenced other lives had he lived.  I knew my Grandmother’s brother and sister.  What would it have been like to know my grandfather’s only brother?  Would he have married and had children and what would they be like?  Maybe he would have stayed single and been a bachelor uncle.  Who knows what he might have done.  What was his personality like?  Was he like my Grandfather?  My Grandfather never talked about him.  All I ever knew was that Grandpa had a brother who died when he was young.  That was where the story started and ended.  No information was given about Hugo.  Maybe it was too painful for Grandpa to talk about.  I can only imagine how his parents grieved at the loss of a son so young.  They probably thought about what might have been.  How very very sad for them and Grandpa too.  Hugo is buried in Eden Cemetery in Schiller Park, Illinois alongside his mother, father, and brother.

Grandpa and Hugo around 1918

If you would like to learn more about the Influenza epidemic of 1918/1919 go to: