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8 June 1859 Infant Death

In Milford Twp, on the 3d instant, of conjection of the brain, LUCY MIRANDA, infant daughter of Wesley and Catharine Arrasmith, aged 11 months and 28 days. Story County Advocate.

1880 Diphtheria Hits Milford

“DIED”-- In Milford Township. June 6th, 1880, of Diphtheria, George Edmund Gillmore, aged 5 years, 3 months, 20 days, son of William (?) and Jerusha Gillmore. `Lovely in death.'

This heartbreaking notice appeared in the Nevada paper in the summer of 1880. It, unfortunately, was but one of several that summer as diphtheria hit northern Story County and the southern portions of Hamilton and Hardin Counties quite severely. This is the only one that I could identify as a Milford victim. One family lost two of their children and another family lost three children, two of them in a matter of a few hours, in that dreadful, frightful summer of 1880. Young Gilmore was buried in the Nevada Cemetery. He was probably the eldest son in the family. The Gilmore family probably lived, at the time, along the road on the south side of Sec 21 (200 Street). This would be a mile south of Milford Twp Cons School and to the west in the first mile. In 1883, Mr and Mrs Gilmore had another son and named him George. They were the parents of at least nine children.

Unfortunately, this incident reminds us of a very melancholic song of the period:

“How sad tonight my troubled heart, How dim mine eyes with tears! For death has robbed me of the joy I thought was mine for years. The sunbeams of my happy life will never on me shine Until in Heaven I will meet that little boy of mine! CHORUS Sweet Angels, let they living smiles Upon my pathway shine, To lead me where I'll meet again, That darling little boy of mine. 2. The very light and life of home, That came, I thought, to stay; To make me happy while I lived, Too soon was called away. The eyes that smiled so sweet on me, The lad I thought divine, All, all is gone, for heaven claimed That darling boy of mine! (Repeat -CHORUS) 3. My life is lonesome, home is sad, My heart is filled with pain; I feel like one who'll never know A joy in life again, Whenever I see a child's blue eyes In beauty on me shine, My poor heart bleeds, oh, then I miss That darling boy of mine. (Repeat-CHORUS)

There were too many parents of that time that could have echoed these lamenting lyrics.

We are reminded that many other conditions proved fatal that, in light of today's standards, would seem rather mundane when the following 15 Dec 1881 newspaper clip is noted.

Died: James Arresmith, 16 1/2, died of paratonites following an operation.

It is thought this lad was a Milford or Franklin Twp Arrasmith.

The Spencer Family
The Spencer Stone at Pleasant Grove Cemetery.
The Spencer family, David and Sarah, who lived in Richland Twp, lost three of their boys ,William, 12; Elbert, 10; and Charles, 6; to Diphtheria in just 12 days in Sept of 1883. An older daughter, Eva, 14, also had the disease as did a girl cousin about the same age from Chicago who was visiting the family. Five youngsters were down with the disease in this household. Both the young ladies survived. The picture below is the Spencer family about 1908 with two children who were born following the ordeal of 1883; Arthur, center, and Edna, right. Eva Belle, left, survived the attack with Diphtheria. Exactly why the selection of Pleasant Grove was made for the internment of the children and the father is unclear but there was another Spencer family in the area so they were probably kin.
Pleasant Grove Cemetery list on page 323.
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© 2012 Mark Christian
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