Seek and ye shall find….the missing children of Benjamin and Cynthia (Day) Bursley

My great, great grandmother, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, was the sixth child born to Benajamin and Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  Pictured with her above are her living siblings, beginning with John Morris Bursley (left), Susan (Bursley) Schelefoo Smallen, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, and Martha (Bursley) Orrock.  Another brother, Aaron Day Bursley, lived to adulthood, but photos of him have not yet been identified.

Grandma Lavina’s three oldest siblings, Julia, Arlette and Benjamin Jr., have always been a bit of a mystery.  Their births were recorded in the Lagrange, Penobscot County, Maine town records.

BURSLEY_Julia_b1835_birth_001

Julia A. Bursley Born Nov 18th 1835

BURSLEY_Benjamin_b1839_birth_001

Benjamin Bursley Jr Born Sep 16th 1839

BURSLEY_Arlette

Arlette Bursley, born Oct 5th 1837

However, none of the older children were listed on the 1850 census:

1850 census

Benj Bursly with Cynthia, John W., Susan H. and Lorina (sic)

Those of us researching the Bursley family have always wondered what happened to Julia, Arlette and little Ben Jr., but for years we were left to ponder.  That is, until GenealogyBank added issues of the Gospel Banner to their database.

BURSLEY_Benjamin_b1810_death_announcement_children

The Gospel Banner reprinted the above from the Bangor Democrat, and  recorded the deaths of young Arlette, Julia and Benjamin Jr., who died with ten days of eachother.

Died in this city, August 22d, Arlette Bursley aged 11 years 10 months; August 29th, Julia Augusta Bursley aged 13 years 9 months; and August 31st, Benjamin Bursley aged 10 years, children of Benjamin and Cynthia S. Bursley.  Thus within a very brief time these parents have been called to part with their three elder children, cut down by the same disease, the scarlet-fever, and are bowed down in affliction and sorrow.  The eldest, a daughter, was a most excellent girl, kind and faithful to her trusts and duties wherever she was placed.  Deeply will their parents and especially her mother mourn her loss, and many hearts will sympathize with her in her grief.  God sustain them in this hour! – Bangor Democrat.

Scarlett fever occurs as the result of an infection with a group A Streptococcus bacteria, and it is most often spread by those who cough and sneeze. Children, aged 5 to 15 years, are the  most often afflicted; however, only a small number of those with group A Strep infections go on to develop Scarlett fever.  The first signs and symptoms of an infection include a sore throat, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and red or scarlet-colored rash.

Unfortunately, there were no antibiotics when Julia, Arlette and little Ben were diagnosed with “the scarlett-fever.”  Those life-saving medicines were not be discovered for another century.  Had they had the advantage of penicillin, photos of Julia, Arlette and Ben could have been added with their siblings above.


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