Monday, March 14, 2016

..."in their death they were not divided"...

This week I have seen a few posts about the mortality rate of children in the United States during the Victorian period. Each post has been somewhat tragic and each post has reminded me of the Bacon children who you can find slightly off the walking path in Hollywood Cemetery. 

“General cleanliness was important to Victorians
but daily bathing was not very common and often frowned upon,
as many believed that frequent body bathing caused chills and illnesses”
~ Mourning in Nineteenth Century America

Death was a daily occurrence in every community due to diseases, chronic illness, accidents, and a lack of modern medical care. In a time when antibiotics were non-existent, the germ was yet to be discovered, and bloodletting and purging were common methods of treatments, death rates were high. Of course, we can read this information in books but there is nothing quite like the impact of stone to send home such a clear message. The children of John & Cornelia Bacon are reminders of the mortality rate during the time. 

The inscription here reads,

“They were lovely and pleasant in their lives
and in their death they were not divided”.

The Bacons had five children. Not one lived beyond the age of 8. Sadly, four of the children died within the month of March. March 3rd, 8th, 10th, and 26th

John L Bacon (1847 –1849)
Eliza R Bacon (1850 – 3/08/1858)
Henry T Bacon (1852 – 3/3/1858)
Cornelia Bacon (1853 –3/26/1858)
George Bacon (1855 –3/10/1858)
Francis B Bacon (1857 -7/22/1858)

While unclear exactly how these children died, there was a serious flu epidemic during the winter prior to their deaths which killed nearly 30 people. Another speculation is that there was a serious epidemic of scarlet fever in the U.S. during 1858. In those days, 42% of childhood deaths were related to scarlet fever.

On the far right is John L. Bacon Jr.'s grave. He was born in March 1847 and died in February 1849, so he never met any of his siblings. 

Francis Bacon's marker is to the left. He was born in June 1857 and died on July 22, 1858. He must have been the last hope for his parents. His inscription displays a verse from the Bible: "Even so, Father, for it so seems good in Thy sight.

There was one death notice in the archives for George, who died on March 10. His funeral took place at the Monumental Church, so it's possible that the other Bacon children's services were also held there. Monumental Church holds the ashes of 72 people who died in 1811's Richmond Theater Fire which are buried underneath the church. Edgar Allan Poe attended religious services there.

The couple did not have any other children. Although unknown what job John held during the 1850s by 1886 he was the President of Virginia State Insurance Co. and State Bank of Virginia. Cornelia was noted for her works of charity.

The monument was designed by J.W. Davies, the same stone carver who had constructed President Madison's obelisk and Dolley Madison’s gravestone in Montpelier. Each of the Bacon children has their very own wreath with a variety of flowers that is different from that of their siblings.

Three children lost in about one week's time with the siblings soon to follow. I've been a witness to close friends losing children but there is no way that I can fathom the pain and sadness of the Bacon home during the month of March 1858. 

1 comment:

  1. I cannot imagine the pain that these parents felt. The monuments are works of art.