Today’s prompt: Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?
Anyone who spends any time researching family history will eventually find an ancestor who died either in childbirth or shortly after of “childbed disease.” But death at the hand of one’s own child is rare.
That was the sad fate of my second cousin twice removed, Isabel Fannie Davis Shiflett. It should have been a day like any other in the farming community of Beldor in Rockingham County, Virginia in January 1922. Bernard Henry Shiflett had gone to work and the older children were in school. Fannie was at home with the younger ones George (age 5) and Ruth (11 months).
Fannie’s attention was fully on her baby girl who had somehow gotten a splinter in her foot. No one could have anticipated that little George would find his father’s shotgun or that it would “suddenly discharge,” as reported in the newspaper.
In that unspeakable moment when a mother preoccupied being a good mother to a suffering child meets unattended curious child, a family’s life was transformed. Fannie was killed instantly, and the baby’s arm was so mangled that it had to be amputated just hours later.
If you’d like to read the news account, I wrote about this same story before. Click HERE.
Certainly this horrible chapter had to impact the family in ways we can only imagine. If George and Ruth were irreparably traumatized, you wouldn’t know it based on what I was able to uncover. For the follow-up story, click HERE.
|photo from Ancestry.com|
Bernard Henry Shiflett far right
That's George next to his father. Ruth is next to him.
Note Ruth's empty dress sleeve.