Note: this is the eighth installment in my own version of #52ancestors where geneabloggers have been asked to write about a different ancestor every week for a year. To understand the concept, read my blog entry from January 19, 2014.
My family tree has many twists and turns but none have been more controversial as my great-grandmother Lillian (Lilly) May Young. She was born in Jerseyville, Ontario, Canada which is part of Ancaster township. She was the oldest of 4 children to Ira Elmor Young and Mabel Ethel Misener. Her birthdate was February 12, 1901.
In the 1911 census, 10-year-old Lilly May is listed as living at 106 Arthur Street in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. She lived with her parents and her siblings Cora – 8, Lawrence – 5 and Elmer – 10 months. The family is all listed as having Dutch origins and Canadian nationality. They are all listed as Baptist. Looking at the streetview on Google, the house looks like it hasn’t really changed much. All the houses look to be over 100 years old. The street is located pretty close to the downtown core of Brantford. Lilly’s father is listed as a labourer at a machine shop and Lilly is listed as a student.
As yet, I cannot find Lilly on the 1921 census, but I do know that her soon to be husband Victor Wilfred Lovejoy was living in Hamilton with his parents at 35 Wentworth Street North. He is listed as 15 years old.
On April 29, 1922 life changes for Lilly and Victor as they exchange wedding vows. Some slight fibs were told on both of their parts, as Lilly states she is 20 years old, when in fact she is 21. Victor’s lie is even larger of as he states that he is 19 years old and yet by being born November 6, 1905, he would only be 16 years old. The pair were married in Hamilton where both of them lived at the time.
It would appear that Lilly May Young wasn’t only lying about her age at the time of the wedding. Her oldest son Ronald Lovejoy was born in September of that same year, only 5 months after they exchanged vows.
Two years later, little Raymond Lovejoy came along.
And two years after that my grandmother Betty May Lovejoy came into this world. 3 children – all under the age of 6. I can’t imagine life was easy for any of them.
All of my life, I have heard that my grandmother’s mother had died in childbirth with my grandmother. I didn’t know her name and in fact, knew nothing about her. I knew that my great-grandfather had asked someone to come and help him raise his kids, and that he had married her as he had 3 more children (2 more boys Ben and Ted and 1 girl Saundra). But I knew nothing when I started my genealogy journey.
A few years back I became obsessed with finding out where I came from. My grandmother was gone and my mom had also passed – there wasn’t anyone I could get answers from easily. I turned to ancestry.ca and began looking into things and before I knew it I had the marriage certificate. A few weeks later I found her birth and death certificate.
I felt the mystery was solved and brought my information to the Lovejoy Family reunion. I had both of Victor’s marriage certificates and the death certificate of my great-grandmother. It was a pretty big deal and answered my questions.
Only it didn’t answer everyone’s questions.
My grandmother was born on May 28, 1926.
My great-grandmother died November 27, 1927.
There is no way that my great-grandmother died giving birth to my grandmother.
It was all in black and white and staring at me in the face but it didn’t click in until someone brought up the story again about how my grandmother died in childbirth. But she didn’t die giving birth to my grandmother. How did she die?
A well meaning cousin told me a rumor that Lilly had died due to a botched abortion. Could this be true? Was she pregnant but didn’t want another baby with 3 more in the house under the age of 8?
This is where the death certificate came in. I scoured it for details and this is what I found:
- Surname of deceased: LOVEJOY
- Full given names: LILLIAN MAY
- Age: 26
- Place of birth: CANADA
- Date of birth: Feb. 12, 1901
- Occupation: HOUSEWIFE
- Length of Residence at death: 1 DAY
- Length of Residence in Ontario: LIFE
- Name of father: IRA YOUNG
- Name of mother: MABEL MISENER
- Name of physician: Dr G. BROWN
- Address: GENERAL HOSPITAL
- Name of Informant: VICTOR LOVEJOY
- Address: 63 WENTWORTH ST. S.
- Relation to deceased: HUSBAND
- Place of Burial: WOODLAND CEMETERY
- Date of Burial: NOVEMBER 29, 1927
- Date of Death: NOVEMBER 27, 1927
- Dates from which medical practitioner attended the deceased: NOV 27/27 – NOV 27/27
- Primary cause of death: Cerebral Hemorrhage & Embolism
- Did an operation precede the death: ____
- Was an autopsy performed: YES
And that’s where it ended up. Not childbirth. Not an abortion. I haven’t been able to find a headstone on any online databases and at some point I plan on figuring out where she is buried but I believe I might already know. Victor Lovejoy was buried in the Woodland cemetery as well. Even though her name is not on the stone, do you think it’s possible they would be buried together?
With the circumstances of her death been concrete in black and white, it really shows the tragedy that was her life.
Young and full of promise.
Three small children.
26 years old.
No family pictures survive that I know of. I have no images of her. Her husband will also die young at the age of 45. His second wife a few years later at 44. Her children will grow and raise families of their own. They will see their children live and thrive and they will have grandchildren they can love and spoil before they too pass away.
No one survives that knew Lillian May Young.
All we have are stories that were passed to the younger generation and no one can be 100% sure if they are true.
She was only 26 years old. Gone, but I have not forgotten.