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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Harry C. E. Swanson

About ten years ago, I was at the West Batavia Cemetery taking pictures of ancestors' headstones, when a lichen-covered marker spoke to me. (Not literally of course, or I would have started looking for a new hobby.)

This headstone had some kind of gravitational pull. No matter where I walked, or what pictures I took, somehow I ended up back at this particular marker. It belonged to a little boy, just nine years old. Surrounded by headstones unlike his in design.

Because I couldn't shake the feeling, I took a picture of the headstone. A few years later, I followed up with research about this young man.

From the November 4, 1892 Valley Chronicle in St Charles, Illinois; "Fatal Foot-ball...Little Harry Swanson, son of a Swede living on the John Warne farm in this city, was injured while playing football at the west side school about three weeks ago. It was not considered that he was badly hurt at the time, but he began to grow worse, and finally died Tuesday. It seems that in trying to get a kick at the ball, he was jammed against the projecting stub of a limb of a tree, inflicting internal injuries with the above result. He was a bright little lad of about 9 summers, and his parents have the sympathy of all in their affliction."

Then there was another article; "The notice published in this paper two weeks ago, about Peter Swanson's boy, was not exactly true in all particulars. The article said that the boy was hurt some three weeks before while playing foot-ball on the school ground. The boy's parents tell us he was hurt by being pushed or thrown against a tree by Fred Miller, and that only 4 days before his death. Of course the boy was hurt by carelessness, and no one thinks Fred did it purposely. Mr. and Mrs. Swanson have the sympathy of everybody in their bereavement."

You may have already surmised that Mrs. Swanson was Carolina (Tolf) Swanson, my great-great grandfather's sister. Because Harry was born and died between census years (the 1890 census has since been destroyed), I might never have found him. His persistence paid off. His story was heard. It's now been shared. Harry has an honorable place in our family history.

This young man born in 1883, taught me to stand quietly for a few moments in each cemetery I visit. I scan the horizon slowly and listen for voices that are just waiting to be heard.

Many thanks to Gary King of the Batavia Historical Society for adding Harry's headstone picture to Find A Grave.

3 comments:

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Great story; wonderful tribute to those many stones that stand there not getting the attention of those of us walking by in search of our special someone! Thank you, so much, for sharing this full story. Neat!

;-)

Becky Higgins said...

Wonderful story, Laura. Also a great lesson to all of us to take the time to listen and to follow our instincts.

Lori said...

A sad and beautiful story. You were surely meant to find him that day. Thank you for sharing.

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