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I love talking to other genealogists. I prefer amateurs like myself.

But I always get irritated when the discussion takes a turn I simply cannot understand. I'm talking about a fairly widely held belief that when our ancestors' children died, they did not feel their grief as deeply as do parents today who lose a child.

I'm calling bullshit on that one.

Yes, I realize that generally speaking, our ancestors had many more children than we do these days, particularly before latex condoms became widely available in the 1920s in the United States. I am also aware that rural farming communities required child labor that is illegal today.

But I do not believe that our ancestors loved their children less, or differently, than we do. Losing a child was no less tragic for them - one child could not "replace" another.

Katharine Leah Williams, 18 Jul 1899 - 8 Dec 1904

Katharine was the fourth child of my great-grandparents, Jo Desha and Maxie Leah (Meek) Williams. I don't know the exact cause of her death, but I know it was illness rather than an accident.

And it hit her parents hard - very hard. The monument erected to her memory provides a glimpse of their grief.


The Williams family plot in Oakland Cemetery at Russellville was a living memorial to her - a rose garden where her parents could go and sit quietly to grieve.

Oakland Cemetery, circa 1910

By 1920, my great-grandfather's grocery business had gone belly-up, and the family moved to Little Rock. Their hearts must have broken all over again when they had to sell that family plot at Oakland, and leave their Katharine behind.


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Dee Burris Blakley

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