Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lucile Hepler, School Girl - Wednesday's Child

I like to imagine Lucile Hepler as a lively, healthy school girl wearing the fashions of the time:  a slightly drop-waisted dress and a big hair bow.  "School Girl" she was, as her death certificate states, at the time she passed away on February 2, 1912.

Lucile's life and death seem shrouded in uncertainty and questions.  There are county records, state records, family records, an obituary, and a gravestone.  They disagree on nearly every aspect of her birth, cause of death, and date of death.  I'm satisfied that the government records are more accurate than the dates recorded by family members but I find the other information interesting, too.

On May 21, 1904, Lucile's mother, Ida Gerner Hepler, recorded Lucile's birth date as March 27, 1904, at the Harrison County Courthouse in Cadiz, Ohio.  Lucile's father was named as Harry Hepler.

By October, 1904, Lucile and her mother, Ida, were living in Fredonia, Pennsylvania.  Lucile's father may also have moved back to Pennsylvania with them but there is no further mention of him.  On October 9, 1904, Ida passed away.  An obituary in October 11, 1904 issue of The Butler Eagle tells us that consumption was her cause of death.  It  mentions neither her husband nor her daughter. 

At that time, Lucile, just over 6 months old, must have been taken to live with her grandparents, Frederick K. and Elvira Gerner.  Elvira was 50 years old at the time with at least two children living at home:  Brendice, age 9, and Paul, age 6.  Fourteen-year-old Warren and 16-year-old Beulah were also probably living at home.  As a mother of 16 children, Elvira was surely skilled in childcare but probably appreciated the help of her daughters in caring for such a young baby.

There is no record of the years between Ida's death and Lucile's death on February 2, 1912.  We can only surmise that Fred and Elvira provided loving care for little Ida.  Since her death certificate identified Lucile as "School Girl" we can assume that she was provided with educational opportunities.

On January 14, 1912, Lucile was under the care of a doctor who diagnosed her with tuberculosis.  She died on February 2, 1912.  On her death certificate the doctor stated her cause of death as "acute miliary tuberculosis."  Based on her county birth record, she was 7 years, 10 months old.

Lucile's obituary in the February 3, 1912, issue of The Butler Citizen says, "Lucille H. Hepler, aged six years, daughter of Harry and Ida Hepler, died Friday morning at the home of the grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred H. [K.] Gerner of Jefferson township from typhoid fever. The remains will be taken to Petrolia for burial today. Interment will be made in the Bear Creek Cemetery."

There are other discrepancies between records.  A family Bible, her death certificate, and her grave marker give Lucile's birth year as 1905.  Did they call come from  the same family member whose memory was less than accurate?  Tuberculosis, as stated on the death certificate, and typhoid fever, as stated in the obituary, are very different diseases.  The only consistency among all the records is that Lucile was the daughter of Harry and Ida (Gerner) Hepler and that she was buried at Bear Creek Cemetery in Petrolia, Butler County, Pennsylvania.

It is interesting that Ida died of consumption, also known as tuberculosis, and Lucile died of miliary tuberculosis.  It seems possible that Lucile was infected by her mother but the disease remained dormant for several years. 

I've been searching for Lucile's father, Harry H. Hepler.  I know that he was a glass blower.  A man with the same name, also a glass worker, married a woman named Rose Heim or Hyme a few years after Ida's death.  They lived in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio, for many years.  Unfortunately, I've been unable to locate any document that connects that Harry Hepler to Ida Gerner and to Rose Heim.

Though brief, I hope that Ida led a happy life with her grandparents and aunts and uncles.


1 comment:

  1. What an interesting study of conflicting information. It does seem like a distant relative was just guessing at the birthdate and cause of death.


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