Thursday, June 7, 2012

No Birthdays for Dorothy

     Little Dorothy Davis never had a 4th birthday party in the year 1927.  There were no balloons, no cake, no laughter, no fun.
     I had written about Dorothy in March of last year in a post entitled "Little Girl".  This child was my maternal grandmother, Eleanor's younger sister.  I never even knew MaMa had a sister until I dragged my mother with me to visit the Davis family plot in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The nice lady in the cemetery's office gave me a map of the cemetery showing the path to get to my family.  She also gave me a copy of a card showing that plot with information such as plot owner, date and amount of purchase, and a list of names and dates of interment.  My mother and I looked at the list and saw Dorothy's name with her age printed as (3) and the date Jan 1927.
     I was obsessed with Dorothy.  I never knew she existed but once I found out about her I had to know more.  How did this little girl die at the tender age of 3?  My grandmother's cousin had told me about Dorothy's tragic death.  She was too close to the kerosene heater causing her clothes to catch fire.  Her mother was deaf and never heard the screams, didn't realize until it was too late.  Dorothy didn't survive the burns.  I called the cemetery to get the exact date of death since it wasn't listed on the paper they gave me.  I was told that Dorothy died on January 28, 1927 in Brooklyn, NY and was buried on January 31.  I asked for her birth date and was told by the cemetery's office that they didn't have it.  So, other than the date of death and burial, all I have is "age 3."  I'm guessing she was born in 1924, maybe 1923.  Well, I can get her date of birth from her death certificate.  no problem...

     I finally ordered Dorothy's death certificate.  It was easy enough.  I had her date  and place of death as well as her parents' names.  I ordered it online and was happy and surprised that it arrived so quickly.
     I glanced at the certificate and looked immediately for the date of birth.  What??  no birth date listed?  When was this child born?  All this certificate shows is 'Age 3' which is what I already knew.
     Dorothy J. Davis, daughter of Samuel George Davis and Josephine A. Duper died on January 28, 1927 at Kingston Avenue Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.  Dr Auerbach determined that the cause of death was "Extensive burns of back - accidental at home."  I already knew that she didn't survive the burns but what I did not know and found on this death certificate was "This case was at Kingston Ave Hospital because of positive culture for Diphtheria."
           Diphtheria?   hmmmm...
      I had heard the word diphtheria but was unfamiliar with this disease and its symptoms.  I looked this up and found that there are two types of Diphtheria.  Respiratory Diphtheria involves the nose, throat and tonsils.  Cutaneous Diphtheria involves the skin.  I wonder if the burns from the 'kerosene' heater contributed to the diphtheria that Dorothy tested positive for?
     The informant on this death certificate was Dorothy's father.  I'm guessing her mother was in no condition to be providing information after giving birth to her youngest son, William the day after Dorothy's death.
     Back to Dorothy's birthday...   unless she just turned 3 in January, that poor child never celebrated a birthday in 1927.  I'm going to try ordering a birth certificate for her with a year of birth as 1923 or 1924.  The death certificate states that she resided in the City of New York her whole life.   her whole short life

                                               ♥ Dorothy ♥

** I write out my blog posts on paper before entering them in the computer.  This post was written and ready to go when I saw that New York had state censuses available on for the years 1892, 1915, and 1925.  I looked up my grandmother, Eleanor in the 1925 census.  She was living with her grandmother and uncles in Brooklyn, NY at the time of the 1930 census and in 1925 I found her in Poughkeepsie, NY with her parents and younger siblings.  One of the siblings listed was 'Dorothy'.  Yes, little Dorothy is actually in a census.  She is listed as 2 years old.  Was she born in 1923?  I'm hoping my answer in her birth certificate arrives soon.

1 comment:

  1. Poor Dorothy. Hard to imagine a child suffering such pain.