Saturday, November 5, 2011

Martha Ellen, the Fourth Child


Martha was the infant child of Newt and Elizabeth who died tragically.  The story is that she was bitten by a mad dog. Martha was born 18 March 1851. I’m not sure where.  She died at the age of 10 months.  If the story is correct, it would place her death in mid-January 1852.  I have not found a gravesite for Martha. 

Where does one look for more information on a child that had such a short life?  I need to start with the family timeline and see if I can determine where the family lived at that point in time.

Sarah, the next oldest child was born in October 1848 in Owen County, Indiana. The family was recorded in Owen County in the 1850 census.  Louise “Anna”, the child that came after Martha, was born in December in 1852.  The 1860 census lists the first 3 children (Thomas, Margaret, and Sarah) as born in Indiana and then switches to list Anna as born in Illinois.  That switch tells me the census taker was paying attention and probably got it right. So the family would have been in Illinois sometime between 1849 and December 1852. But the 1856 Iowa Census says Anna was born in Indiana.  Rats!  Maybe they were still in Indiana.  So birthdates and censuses don’t answer the question of where the family was in January 1852.  

I took a trip to Owen County a few years ago and found nothing to help place Martha in Indiana.  Next I need to look at the records in McLean County, Illinois.  Perhaps, land or tax records will provide a time marker for me. 

I obviously have not scoured the earth yet, but I keep hoping I’ll find a marker with an inscription that will answer my questions.  I want to see a little lamb with the name Martha Turpin engraved below it – but somehow I don’t expect to find that.
The website www.graveaddiction.com tells us that lambs are often used on children's headstones, symbolizing their innocence.

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