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Great-Grandma Bertha’s death and newly confirmed facts

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

My grandma Ariel often talked of her mother, Bertha, and her death at age 30. Her mother had suffered through several pregnancies and early deaths of her children. I know there were at least 10 pregnancies, and seven live births in a 12 year period.

Grandma was never quite sure what caused her mother’s death. She knows there was another pregnancy, and an abusive husband may have been involved.

Today, my husband and I were driving home from snowy upper Michigan, we were discussing how late it could possibly snow in this state. I remembered that it snowed once on my son’s birthday, the year I gave him a sandbox. He was born on April 29th and I have pictures of him at age 3 or 4 playing in his new gift in the snow.

watsons_1912_aI remembered the story of my great grandmother Bertha’s death. She was in bed, close to death and her mother arrived from Canada to be with her at the end. At one point, my grandma (who was 12 at the time) remembers that the doctor looked out the window and told Bertha that it was snowing. Bertha didn’t believe him, so he went and scooped some snow off the windowsill and took it to her to show her as she lay her bed.

Bertha Estelle Watson, nee Rushton, died on May 15, 1912.

As I told my husband the story, I realized that the internet holds many records that would never have been easily accessed in an earlier era. Tonight, I googled, “Detroit weather history May” and this is what I found in seconds:

This Day in Southeast Michigan Weather History …

On May 13, 1912, Detroit reported a record for the latest snow accumulating an inch or more. The snow was measured at 1.5 inches.

Wow! Isn’t exciting to find corroboration for a family story?


The new site is up

Wednesday, June 1st, 2005
Well, it’s not exactly new, but it’s cleaned up and better organized.

Tonight, I worked on cleaning up my family tree for publishing as a gedcom. It needs more work, but it’s much improved, so I privatized information on living relatives and uploaded the latest tree. I need to start on the Palmer tree next.I came across a couple of good research aids today. The first is the “Historic Directories” website [] This was a quick tidbit in my Cornish Gen-list, and it was a really pleasant surprise. There are hundreds of trade directories from the 19th and early 20th century online. There’s a good search engine and I easily found some ancestors.

I was especially excited to find my great-great-great-grandmother Catherine Rickard Billing. She was 76 years old and listed in a directory for St. Breward, Cornwall, where she was a “beer retailer.” In earlier census records, she and her husband (St. John Billing) were listed as innkeepers.