Saturday, May 21, 2016

Finding Harry (part V)

A Final Note from the Infirmary

This day, 101 years ago, there was likely a late knock at the door.  Lydia (Boreham) Chinery had perhaps gotten her 4 boys ages 3, 5 and 7 years old, plus a 9 month old to bed.   Her husband probably was not at home as evidence states he reported for duty during WWI the prior month. 

It would have been a Friday night, and she may have plans to go see her stepson Harry at the Ipswich Infirmary the next day as he mentioned in his letter.  He wrote a letter just two days ago.  Had she received it the following day, or had it just arrived today?  

The knock at the door is a messenger from the Ipswich Union Workhouse and he gave Lydia a note. [1]
Notice of Death for Harry Chinery from the Ipswich Union Workhouse 21 May 1915 
privately held by Raul Gonzales Jr, Colorado

The note states that Harry died “suddenly”.  We know from his death certificate the primary cause was TB, the secondary cause was “Haemoptysis”-coughing up blood. [2]

I am sure Lydia had to be shocked.  In his letter written just 2 days ago he stated he was “not any worse but a little better.”  She was supposed to go see him tomorrow.

It had to be overwhelming to receive news of a death this way.  Little Harry died without any family present.  It probably wasn’t that uncommon when you were if the infirmary at the Workhouse with TB.  They had a form letter for such an event.

We know from other mementos Lydia kept stashed, that Harry was buried at Ipswich Cemetery on 24 May 1915.   She kept the burial card.  Before coming into possession of the burial card, I had previously written to the Ipswich Cemetery. They have a service in which they will provide you with a map of where your family is buried.  If you give them 48 hours notice, they will go out and place flags for you to easily find the grave sites.  Both pairs of my maternal great grandparents are buried in this cemetery as well as one of Harry’s brothers.  My maternal grandparents ashes are also scattered in this cemetery.  Based off of the map I was sent and Harry’s burial card, I know he is not too far from his parents.  When I get back to England someday, I will be sure Harry's grave will have a flag too.

Today I added his burial place to Find A Grave.

We go searching for the dead when we become caught up in the hobby we love called Genealogy.  We expect to find death.  Most of the time it excites us to find the record associated with a death.  But, I have to say; it is especially hard when you find out the person died as young mother, a young man at war, or still just a child.   

From Harry’s writings I feel like I know him a little bit better than a lot of the other people in my tree. I am glad I got to know Harry.


[1] “Notice of Death” for Harry Chinery, laminated note, privately held by Raul Gonzales, Jr. Centennial, CO.
[2]  England, General Register, Death Registrations, death certificate, (certified copy) for Harry Chinery, death 21 May 1915.

1 comment:

  1. That is so sad! I feel for that young boy, without any family or loved ones near him as he died. And, for his stepmother who had to receive the news. And, for his dad, who was serving his country as his son died alone. It is quite sad!

    I agree... so often, we are eager to find the "deaths" of our ancestors and relatives. But, sometimes, it hits us hard. Sometimes, the deaths are unexpected. Sometimes, they are too young or their death too harsh.

    Thank you for sharing his story!