In amongst some old photos I found this one.
It was taken in about 1915.
The mother is Agnes and the father John.
The bigger girl is Jean, aged about three or four and the younger one is Iva.
Agnes was an excellent seamstress and would have made the girls’ dresses. She most probably would have sewn her own outfit as well.
John and Agnes went on to have two more children: Twins, Agnes (known as Ness) and Oliver.
When the dreaded disease of diphtheria came to their area, Oliver, at the age of three, contracted it and died. Jean, who had a milder case, was in the hospital at that time and remembers hearing her mother quietly crying through the thin walls of what was the makeshift hospital rooms,
consisting of canvas army tents…the amount of ill people being too many to be housed in the hospital building alone.
I have the lovely old leather-bound small Bible belonging to Agnes and, in the back of it, she has
written: “Little Ollie went home March 3rd, 1921. Waiting for dear ones coming, coming some day.”
But the weeping was not over for Agnes.
When her husband, John, was in his early 40s, he took it upon himself to chase a thief who had robbed a nearby shop. After exerting himself to the extreme in order to catch the thief, his heart was strained beyond endurance and, without catching the thief, he returned home, only to collapse
and die, with Agnes and Jean watching on helplessly.
Agnes then became the breadwinner, with the help of Jean, who was then aged 16.
A few short years later, Iva joined a city hospital to train as a nurse. She was embarking on a promising career and was engaged to be married, when an unnamed bacteria in the hospital entered her system, presenting an illness for which there was no cure and she died just weeks before she was to be wed.
So, who knows what is behind old photographs we find. I am fortunate to know some of these stories. This one in particular holds some sadness for me.