Thursday, May 1, 2014

Death Comes In Three's

I don't know if my family is particularly superstitious but a number of times in our family history we have experienced death coming in three's. The hardest part of this is that the people who are left behind have a lot of sadness to deal with at one time. This happen when my Uncle John went a way for fourth of July weekend with his sister Gertrude Ohnmacht in 1921. It just so happened that the 4th of July fell on a Monday that year so the two of them drove up to Esopus to spend the weekend with some family and friends. Esopus is known for its scenic beauty and the river is absolutely gorgeous. The death certificate states "that the cause of death was as follows: accidental drowning while in swimming." This happened on the 3rd of July and his sister had to make the arrangements to bring him home. We don't know if she had to transfer the body herself or whether he was brought home by a hearse. I can't imagine how difficult it was to tell your parents that your brother drown when you were swimming on vacation. John was laid out in the parlor of the house which was the custom during those days. Here is a picture of Esopus's River and another one of my Aunt with a few of her friends going for a drive.

The second death occurred when my Grandmother died from asthma and diabetes. She died at home at 130 Hawthorne Street, on August 8, 1922 from a broken heart. Family thought that after losing two of her children, Charles John Ohnmacht who was born on March 29, 1901 and died from Cholera at age 3 months and 23 days and John Frederick that these events lead to her death. Although Charles did not die during the Cholera Epidemics, Cholera was still part of tenement life. In fact they passed the New York State Tenement House Act the same year he died. The family was living at 413 West 48th Street, NY, as seen in the photograph to the left.

The third death occurred when my Aunt Gertrude died on December 27, 1923. She died from accidental
gas poisoning according to the Death Certificate. Gertrude had fallen in love but her bow had fallen in love and married another woman. She married John C. Clark on April 11, 1923 at the age of 21 and John was 32. John was a butcher by trade. According to the Marriage Certificate it was his first marriage. They were not suited for one another and eight months later she was dead. Family members thought she was murdered but no proof existed. At the time she was living at a Furnished Rooming House at 21 Brevoort Place. It looks like the same building is still standing today as seen in the photograph. Her husband, John did not claim the body or pay for the burial.  She was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery on December 30, 1923 next to her brother.

This is a picture of the whole family before the three deaths. From Left to right, Grandfather Gottlieb, Uncle Al, Uncle John, Aunt Gertrude, My Mother, Tillie in the front next to my Grandmother Gertrude.

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