Vale of Tears

My great-great aunt Maud was a widow when she married great-great uncle Norman Price in 1900. I didn’t know this based on the paper genealogy I have (done in the 1950s by her niece Helen Delmage.) When I did find out I did some research on Maud’s first husband Henry Harwood. Henry died of pneumonia in 1895 at the age of 26 – he and Maud were married a year or so.

Anyhow I found an online pic of Henry’s lonely tombstone in Mount Pleasant Cemetery Toronto. Maud never used the cemetery plot herself (she’s buried with Norman in Lewiston NY where they spent most of their married life.) But Henry ended up with plenty of company.

Maud made ample use of the plot for various and sundry relatives. There was her brother Joseph H. Foster who died in Memphis TN in 1905 and was shipped back to Toronto. But what confused me for a time was the presence of two young women – Edna G and Ethel C. Warrington – both who died in their 20s. How did they end up in Henry’s plot?

Well it turns out that Edna (died 1908) and Ethel (died 1898) were Maud Price’s cousins – daughters of her sister Charlotte Foster. Charlotte married Frederick Warrington – who was born in England and came to Toronto where he worked for her father making surveyor optical instruments.

The Warringtons were a star-crossed (one might say snake-bit) family from what I see at a distance of 100 plus years. Fred Warrington took them to Detroit, then New York, then Alberta and finally back to New York over a 40+ year period. Born under a wandering star no doubt.

Ethel Warrington was a diabetic and died at age 21 of kidney failure. Edna Warrington was a nurse, contracted TB and died at the age of 29. Maud Price looked after their funeral arrangements, probably because Fred and Charlotte were too far away. Ethel is commemorated on the back of Henry Harwood’s tombstone although her surname is spelled Warington. I don’t see any trace of Edna except in the cemetery records online.

The Warringtons had a son Arthur who got married in Detroit, settled in Alberta , joined the army in World War I and was killed at Vimy. To top it all off two of Arthur’s sons died in World War II – both in 1944. You can’t make this stuff up.

I haven’t been able to find out what happened to Charlotte and Fred but I hope they died peacefully somewhere. The rest of the family had their vale of tears to contend with.

I find this story rather heartbreaking and these people aren’t even related to me except tangentially. Probably I am the only person on the planet who put their story together. It’s been a long time coming.

There are some days to be grateful you live in an era of relative peace, with available insulin and antibiotics. Today is one of them.

Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.

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