Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Lives lived (but the details are sometimes fuzzy)

My Nova Scotia great grandparents both died after living long lives in the 1940s. Charlotte Butler Nelson (1854-1942) predeceased my great grandfather Elias Nelson (1854-1946). Two confusing and error-riddled funeral notices for Charlotte appeared, one following the other, in the Truro Daily News on 15 May 1942 five days after her death.

Very little fact checking seems to have been done once these two stories were filed. Charlotte's middle name wasn't Moore. This was a family name on Elias' side, not on Charlotte's side. My 2nd great grandmother, Charlotte's mother, was Mary Olive Fisher (abt 1819-1865), not Alice Fisher. Yet, perhaps she was known as Alice, and perhaps that's why my grandmother was called Alice. Certainly, that name wasn't seen in either the Butlers or the Nelsons until my grandmother came along. Since Charlotte lost her mother when she was just ten or 11 years old, this too could account for her mother's name discrepancy.

Charlotte was born on 3 Sep 1853. It was Elias who was born on 17 Aug 1854. Listed as her surviving children are her son Robert and daughters Emma and Alice. Except my grandmother is identified as Mrs Alice Purdy of Great Village, instead of Mrs Alice Dougherty of Montreal.  Two of Charlotte's daughters (my great aunts) Loie Nelson Purdy (1891-1930) and Letitia Nelson (1880-1941) preceded her in death.

Phew! Those are a lot of mistakes. When you lose a loved one, it can be hard enough. But to have the details so thoroughly muddled in print, and then never corrected (I haven't found any correction) definitely would rub salt in the wound for her loved ones.

Still, Charlotte's obituary did give me new information -- that she had moved to Truro to act as housekeeper for her brother, after his wife had passed away in 1873. In time, she and Elias met. They were married in Truro on 15 Feb 1877. When Charlotte died in 1942 , they had been married 65 years. A milestone to be sure.

When Elias died four years later, all of the details were correctly reported in the Truro Daily News (see right). I suppose the newspaper wanted to make sure of the facts in 1946.

As you can see, the causes of Charlotte and Elias' deaths weren't reported. In Charlotte's case, it was bronchial pneumonia and influenza, while the cause of death recorded for Elias was senility.

Charlotte was a Baptist, while Elias was Anglican. Their children were all raised as Baptists.

The never ending story continues....

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