Sunday, July 28, 2013

Auntie's Day: Honoring the Original Auntie Nettie

The spirits of my family have been really active lately in trying to bring our focus back to them. Between babies sharing family names, the genetic legacies of generations showing up on little shiny faces, and other dreams and visitations  - let's just say, I don't believe in "coincidences."

Like this one, I had already been planning a trip to Canada, near Nova Scotia, when a distant cousin, the author of a biography about our shared paternal grandfather, sent me an e-mail letting me know about a family reunion up in Prince Edward Island --the first one ever - the week BEFORE I was due to travel. Hopefully the family was able to visit family sites and pay homage at relevant cemeteries. I hope to join them in future years and reconnect the distant branches of the family tree. This family connection totally explains the "pull" to P.EI. and Canada that has always been quite strong for me.

But I don't need a reunion, or need to visit a cemetery to remember my ancestors - especially my great-something paternal aunt, the original "Auntie Nettie." I can't forget her. We share a name after all.

I always think about her when I have to explain my name, but it wasn't until recently that I tried to find her final resting place so I could properly pay my respects. Poor kid; she doesn't seem to have a headstone.

Rivertrip 2010
middle of Utah
middle of a cemetery
middle of a search for "myself"
 Where are you little one? Are you here? Or were you here?

I knew that she had died young. The frontier life wasn't easy, and childhood life expectancy was short due to illnesses, but until my father was told about Cousin Frank's book and I found "myself" in the index, we didn't know how tragic her death was.
~daughter of Elijah Hiett M. 1832-1925 {son of John Ellison M. 1801-1875 and Sarah Elizabeth B.M. 1811-1894} and Helen Alcy T. 1839-1915
Elijah Hiett M******: A Pioneer Legend by Frank L. M****** [aka Cousin Frank]
Page 147

Elijah set about building a family home in East Lao, in the County of Piute [Utah]--the county subsequently becoming Wayne County in 1891. However, three weeks after moving into their new home, they were saddened by the death of their young daughter, THE ORIGINAL who, at the age of three, accidentally drank some concentrated lye which was in common use within the pioneer homes. It would have easily been mistaken for other liquids. Now, at the age of four years old, she became the first death in East Loa in April of 1878. Knowing that she was near death she requested to be buried alongside her grandfather and grandmother in Cottonwood, Utah – which was the place of her birth. Keeping the promise made to her, Elijah and Helen made the 200 mile, 11 day journey, to the Salt Lake Valley to place her alongside her grandparents, John [Ellison] and Sarah ... (emphasis my own.)

Can you even imagine? If I understand this correctly, she didn't die immediately, but lingered long enough to have a birthday and make requests to be reunited with her grandparents in her childood "hometown." What a horrible way to way to go. At three or four, she should have been running around the yard, helping with the prairie chores -- probably gathering eggs, feeding the chickens, gathering wood, and water from the stream. She would have been bossed by her older siblings, and in turn played with her baby brother.

Now that I have these clues, I plan to go back to find her plot. More importantly, she deserves a marker. I plan to write to the sexton to see if it's possible for her to eventually have some company. A little urn doesn't take up a lot of room, right? - Even in a plot with a child's coffin? If I'm getting a stone engraved, why not getting it engraved for two?  Centuries apart, we are both:

Daughter, Sister, Aunt 

daughter of Elijah Hiett and Sarah Elizabeth

daughter of LeRoy C. "Max" and Mary 

Happy Auntie's Day Little One.

Thanks for the name
(even if no one can pronounce it correctly.)

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