Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mother & Daughter Die Same Day

One of the saddestšŸ˜¢ stories in my family history is the death of my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dorothea Weiss Martin. Elizabeth, called Lizzie, and her daughter, Margaret May, died on the same day of measles.
In late February 1903, nearly all of the John Martin family was afflicted with the measles.  Everyone in the family recovered except for the mother Lizzy and the oldest daughter May.  They took colds,  suffered a relapse, and were in critical condition for several days.  May died early in the morning of 8 March 1903, and mother Elizabeth (Lizzy) died later in the afternoon of the same day.

Elizabeth Dorothea Weiss Martin
Born 27 June 1857, Rock Island County, IL
Died 8 March 1903, Rock Island County, IL

Margaret May Martin
Born 14 Jul 1885, Rock Island County, IL
Died 8 Mar 1903, Rock Island County, IL

May was engaged to a young man from Bowling township at the the time of her death. She was buried in her wedding gown.

Elizabeth Dorothea Weiss was born 27 Jun 1857 in Rock Island County, Illinois.  She was the daughter of Michael Weiss and Anna Maria Heim.  Elizabeth, called "Lizzie", married John Stephan Martin on 23 Nov 1882 in Rural township.  Elizabeth and John were the parents of five children: Margaret May, Elmer Matthew, John Edward, Emma Christina, and Wilbur Philip.

Margaret May, born 14 July 1885 in Milan, was the oldest child of John and Elizabeth Martin.  She grew up on the family farm in Milan, Rock Island, Illinois.  In church records, she was referred to as "Maggie May."   At the time of her death, she was engaged to be married to a young man from Bowling.  May was buried in her wedding gown.

Below are some obituaries and newspaper articles about the tragic deaths of Elizabeth and May:
Rock Island Argus, Monday 9 March 1903
Transcription of above obituary:
Rock Island Argus, Monday 9 March 1903
Mrs. John Martin and Daughter
Death has laid a heavy hand upon the family of John Martin, living four miles south of Milan, in Bowling township. At 3 o'clock Sunday morning May, the oldest daughter, aged 18, died of measles, and at 5 in the afternoon the mother died of the same disease.
Nearly all the members of the family had been afflicted with the measles and all but the mother and daughter had recovered. They took cold, however, suffered a relapse and both had been in a critical condition for several days.
The surviving members of the family are the husband and four children, John, Elmer, Wilbur and Emily, ranging in age from 14 down to 6 years. Mrs. Martin was formerly Miss Elizabeth Weiss.
Her death is the first in a family of 14 children, the survivors being: George, of Jackson, Minn,; Jacob, of Pekin, Kans,; Philip, of Partridge, Kans,; Mrs. Mary Swartz, of St. Louis; Mrs. Margaret Lepper, of Topeka, Kans.; Mrs. Joseph Fitzpatrick, of Milan; Mrs. Emma Sherrard, of Sherrard; August, of Rural; Lawrence, of Edgington; and Gottlieb, John, Mrs. John Volk and Miss Christine Weiss, of this city. 
The funeral of the mother and daughter will be held from the home at 10 o'clock Tuesday morning with interment at Little's cemetery.

Obituary clipping from unknown newspaper :
Margaret May Martin was born July 14, 1885 and died at her home four miles northeast of Preemption, Ill., Mar. 8, 1903, at 2:30 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m. of the same day, her mother, Mrs. John Martin, died at the same home and from the same disease, measles. May was the oldest of the family of Mr. and Mrs. John Martin, a beautiful young woman of excellent Christian character. Mrs. Martin, Lizzie Dorothea Weiss, was born in the town of Rural, June 22, 1857 and was united in marriage to her now bereft husband, Nov. 22, 1882. They went to housekeeping at the home above mentioned where they have since resided. The husband and four children, Elmer, John, Emma and Wilber are left to mourn the loss of a faithful, loving wife and mother and precious daughter and sister. So sad this double affliction to Brother Martin and family, but in this hour of sadness as they lean upon the everlasting arms, it is sweet to know that they are in the Heavenly Father's tender care and to realize that their many friends are praying for, and sympathizing with them. Sister Martin and May were members of the Preemption ME Church and were trusting in him who says, "He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And altho husband, father, brothers and sisters mourn with a large circle of friends, they mourn not without hope -- the hope of a Christian. The funeral services were held at the home Mar 10, 1903 at 12 o'clock, conducted by their former pastor, Rev G. W. Peregoy. The remains of mother and daughter were laid side by side in the same grave in Preemption cemetery to await the resurrection morn.

Wednesday, 11 March 1903, The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union, page 8

Transcription of above obituary:
Funeral services over the remains of Mrs. John Martin and her daughter May, who died of measles Sunday, were held at noon yesterday from the home 5 miles south of Milan, in Bowling. Services for both were jointly conducted by the Medthodist ministers of Preemtion and Sherrard and both were buried in the same grave at Littles Cemetery. The daughter, who was engaged to be married to a Bowling young man, was buried in her wedding gown.

From "The Argus," Rock Island, Illinois, Thursday, December 21, 1972, newspaper article titled, "Towering tombstone at Preemption has unusual background."  Story by Sharon Esslinger.
From a letter written by Frank L. Rathburn in Feb. 1966, prior to his death, he writes:
"I expect I have attended several hundred funerals in this cemetery (Preemption), but one outstanding in my memory was in the month of March, I think about 1903. Mrs. John Martin and her daughter, Mae, were buried in a double grave, as both died on the same day. As usual in the month of March, roads were nearly impassable, as frost had gone out and mud was nearly hub deep some places. They had two hearses and each hearse was pulled by four horses and even then they had trouble getting through roads. The only time in my life I have ever experienced such a sight."

Elizabeth's Find A Grave memorial page, click here.
May's Find A Grave memorial page, click here.

More stories about the Martin Family:
John Martin and Elizabeth Weiss Marriage
John and Elizabeth Martin Family Photo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such a sad story. Thank goodness for the measles vaccine we have today. Families don't have to lose their loved ones to that terrible disease!