In loving memory of Harriett and Caroline Young, age 12 years, died December 21, 1913, twin daughters of Frank and Annie Young, and niece Mary Lushman who died at 16 years. We shall meet again.
But thatâs only what the gravestone said.
âYes, my dear. There is much more story to those deaths than what you read on that gravestone,â Sarah Rose (Young), age 81, told me when I was introduced to her by the good people who had gathered at Grey Riverâs general store. âBut if you want more,â she instructed me, gently touching my arm, âyouâll have to come to my house where Iâve got a picture I can show you, of those three little girls, taken a short time before they died.â
So it was off to Sarahâs home I did go.
âTom Young had this picture come for my late husband Victor, because Victorâs mother died when he was only eleven months. So he didnât know what she looked like,â Sarah said, pointing to a sweet young girl in a surprisingly high quality photograph, taken in the early 1900s, of a large group of Grey River children. âEleven months is not a long time to have your motherâs love,â Sarah understated. âToday they might know what Victorâs mother died from (mastitis, breast cancer?), but back then they didnât know what killed her.
âAnd here,â she said, circling three more lovely female faces, âare Mary, Caroline, and Harriett â the darling little girls who died when their house burnt down, in 1913. Nobody knows how the fire started, but the girlsâ mother was a midwife who had gone to help another daughter, named Annie too, have a baby. The girlsâ father was up the bay. So the only one at home with the girls was a teacher who was boarding with them â and he jumped out a window when he saw the house was on fire.
âThen, a week later, the daughter that the mother was helping have a baby, and the baby, died too (of childbirth complications, both of them). So Annie Young lost three daughters, a niece who she raised as one of her own, and a grandchild, all in one week. After that, the poor old woman was never the same. She just âgot out of it - she didnât know what she was at.â Sheâd put out plates on the table, and sing out, âCaroline, Mary, HarriettâŠ come for dinner.â But of course they never did come. Poor thing âjust got out of it.â Can hardly blame her,â Sarah, herself a mother of ten (nine girls), clearly understood.
âSo their people (recently, respectfully,) bought them that gravestone and put it where their house was. But thatâs all I can tell you,â she concluded, trying to bring closure to what was, understandably, a difficult story to tell. âBut maybe I got it wrong, because I wasnât born in 1913. So if you need more, you will want to get it from somebody else. You see, what I tell you, I got from my mother (Susanna), but sheâs been dead 36 years. So perhaps Iâm wrong. Or maybe my mother was wrong, but I donât think so â she had too good a memory to make mistakes on things like that. No my dear, my mother had too good a memory to make mistakes about one of Grey Riverâs sad stories.â
McCallumâs feller-from-away, David is travelling Newfoundlandâs southwest coast. Next stop: Burgeo