Sunday, June 8, 2014
Another Unexpected Find, My Cousin!
This is Anna Hazel Bushnell, who was born June 27, 1888 in Palmyra, NY, sandwiched between one older brother and two younger ones. Anna, or the more modern sounding Hazel as she preferred to be called, lost her mother, Alice White Bushnell, when she was just 5 years old. As it happens, Anna Hazel's maternal grandmother Anna Ryan White, from South Tipperary, was my 2nd great grandmother. Using the relationship chart here I determined Anna Hazel and I are 1st cousins twice removed.
A short time after her mother's death Anna Hazel went to live with her father Patrick's sister, Bridget Coates. Like Patrick, Aunt Bridget lived in the village of Palmyra, so Anna Hazel was able to see her father and brothers frequently. She seemed to flourish in the home of her aunt and uncle whose only child was a son two years older than her, but a few weeks before Christmas of 1903 Anna Hazel fell ill. She was diagnosed with brain fever, meningitis perhaps? She lingered about two weeks, then passed away on December 22, ten years after her mother. The headline in the Palmyra Courier read, "Death of a Popular Young Girl", followed by her obituary:
On Tuesday evening about half past six o'clock occurred the death of Hazel Bushnell, the young daughter of Mr. P.H. Bushnell and the niece of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Coates. The little girl was taken ill about two weeks ago with brain fever, and for the past week she had been very low; but still hopes were entertained for her recovery. Everything possible in the way of medical assistance was done for her, but she grew gradually weaker until the end came on Tuesday evening. She was a very popular young girl, being a great favorite with her school mates and her death will be a great shock not only to all the scholars, but the faculty of the Union School, where she was a regular attendant. For several years she had made her home with her aunt, Mrs. J.C. Coates. She was 15 years of age and is survived by her father and three brothers.
That I have a copy of this photograph at all, is one of those amazing strokes of luck. Friday I found myself in Palmyra, NY, a few miles from my home, and decided to stop at the library to check out the new local history room. OK, not brand new, but since the library moved I hadn't been in to see the new digs so I stopped. I wound up staying three hours until closing time, and could easily have stayed three more.
At the old library, the local history books, family files and microfilm along with an ancient microfilm reader were crammed in a corner of the reference area. The new library has an entire room devoted to local history and it's filled with all sorts of ephemera. I don't know where this stuff was hidden at the old library, but I'm so glad it's now seeing the light of day.
I checked some old history and family files, then some books, and was getting ready to leave when I spotted a bookcase filled with antique photo albums. What family historian could bring themselves to leave without looking through those? Several were clearly family albums, but the third one I picked up didn't seem to be. Rather, it appeared the library had chosen to preserve and display their collection of old photographs in a photograph album. Brilliant! Someone had written names under many of the pictures and as I turned the pages my heart skipped a beat to see the name Anna Hazel Bushnell; I knew that name!
While I was excited to find this photo, it made me a bit wistful. In it we see a lovely girl of 14, on the brink of young womanhood. Sliding the photo out of the album and turning it over I saw this heartbreaking inscription:
"From Anna Hazel Bushnell,
Below that was written:
"Went away Dec 22nd 1903,
a loving little heart".
Whoever authored those last lines couldn't even bring themselves to write the word "died", instead it was the euphemism, "went away". Unfortunately, I have no idea who may have written it, a friend or relative it would seem. I plan to return to the library soon and re-examine the album, hopefully there will be a clue.