The ones we miss at Christmas

I love Christmas.  I love the songs, the decorations, the baking, and especially the visiting with family and friends. I’m fortunate to have many great memories of Christmases past.

This time of year we feel more acutely the absence of those who are no longer with us.  For me that’s Dad, Mom, and now my brother Don who died this past January.

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Don and Mom opening presents

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Dad and his first granddaughter

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Mom and I decorating the tree in Calgary with help from my son

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Mom and Don having fun

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Don and me

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Me, Mom and Don

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Len, me, Don, Moe

 

This last picture was taken New Year’s Day 2006.  It was the last holiday family gathering that Mom would enjoy.

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4 Generations

Merry Christmas everyone!

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The graves of children

Like most genealogists, I love cemeteries. I’ve been to St. Charles Cemetery in Winnipeg several times to photograph gravestones.  Well, to be honest, my husband is the willing photographer.

There are many graves in St. Charles that belong to the McMillan and Hogue families. I’ve written previously about the family of my great-great-grandfather William McMillan and his wife Margaret Dease here. They are buried in this cemetery, as are some of their children, and grandchildren.

It’s always emotional to come upon a child’s grave.   Sadly, there are several in this cemetery and  I decided that the time had come to research exactly where these children belonged in the family tree.

McMillan John James b1890 grave

This grave certainly tugs at the heart strings.  Two cousins dying within two days of each other!  The fathers, John and Patrick were brothers, sons of William, and thus brothers to my great-grandmother Philomene McMillan (Pépère’s mother).

This combined gravestone is for John James McMillan, age 7, son of John McMillan and Virginie Bruce and for Patrick McMillan, age 4, son of Patrick McMillan and Elizabeth Caplette.  The four-year-old is one of those children who was born and died between census years, so without the gravestone we would never even know he existed!

I wondered if there was a rash of deaths in November of 1897 and went looking for newspaper articles.  I found this.

diseases 1897

The Winnipeg Tribune, 31 Dec 1897, Fri, Page 8

 

Then I found their obituaries and discovered they both died of diphtheria.

John James McMillan obit

The Winnipeg Tribune, 27 Nov 1897, Sat, Page 4

This second one is for Patrick,  whose father was misidentified as Alex.

Patrick McMillan grave

The Winnipeg Tribune, 30 Nov 1897, Tue, Page 4

This wasn’t the first child that Patrick McMillan and Elizabeth Caplette had buried.  Their second-born son, also called Patrick, had died at 11 months in 1881.

Patrick

I found no obituary for this Patrick.

Patrick and Elizabeth’s son William John, married to Maria Breland, also suffered through the death of two children in the same month, July 1907.

Laura

McMillan Laura obit

The Winnipeg Tribune, 27 Jul 1907, Sat, Page 7

Again, the newspaper has misidentified the father.

violet

Joseph McMillan (brother to John and Patrick) and his wife, Pauline Bruce, buried a 22-year-old daughter, Mary Jane, in 1893,  a 14-year- old son, Frederick, in 1898, and a 23-year-old married daughter, Mary Ann Alice, in 1902.

McMillan Mary Jane grave

Frederick 1898

McMillan Mary Ann Alice grave

 

I’ve found no obituaries for  Violet, Frederick, Mary Jane, or Mary Ann Alice.

Obviously, some of these gravestones are not original.  Presumably family members at some point replaced the original markers.

These graves are a poignant reminder of the hardships our ancestors faced.