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One we lost

Name: Willie, perhaps Wilhemina, but more likely just plain Willie.

Born: 11 January 1895, most likely Provo, Utah.

Died: most likely, March 1896.

Buried: most likely, March 1896, City Cemetery, Provo Utah.

Not much to tell the story of this little girl, is it?

She lived, she breathed… she died.

ProvoCityCemeteryWillie was the ninth of 10 known children and sixth known daughter of my great grandparents, Martin Gilbert Cottrell and Martha “Mattie” Johnson.1

There are only recorded family memories to tell of her name. She had an older brother named Sammie,2 so, we think, Willie is a safer bet than anything fancy like Wilhelmina.

Only those recorded family memories tell of her birth — 11 January 1895, 120 years ago tomorrow.3 They tell us nothing of her life. Whether she was dark or fair. Whether she was blue-eyed or brown. Whether she was hearty or frail as an infant. Whether she learned to crawl or to walk. Whether she was babbling or talking or even able to say mama and daddy by the time our family lost her, at just 14 months of age.

They don’t us how it came to be that Willie died in Utah. The family was not a Utah family at all — Martin Gilbert Cottrell, or M.G. as he was called, was born in Texas,4 he and Mattie married in Texas,5 they were in Texas before and after Willie’s birth and death,6 and we’re not entirely sure what they were doing in Utah. M.G. had taken a job as a traveling salesman for the Wrought Iron Range Company7 and it may be that the family traveled with him for a time.

Two of the known children — Sammie and Willie — died young, and the family notes say that Sammie was the one who died in Utah and Willie in Texas.8 That can’t be correct. Sammie died on 11 April 1892 and was buried in the family plot at Highland Cemetery in Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas.9

There is a burial of a Cottrell child recorded in the Provo, Utah City Cemetery.10 That has to be Willie, but the record is singularly uninformative. No first name. No date of birth. No date of death. No parents’ names except for the surname Cottrell. No cause of death. No block and lot number for the grave, only feet north and feet west — of what, it does not say.

Not much to tell the story of this little girl, is it?

She lived, she breathed… she died.

We hope that the fact that her name survived to be passed on to the children and grandchildren of a brother — my grandfather — born after her death11 — means that she was dearly loved and greatly missed.

And at least she is, today, remembered by her kin… here in Utah… 12

Rest in peace, little girl.


SOURCES

  1. Interview with Opal Robertson Cottrell (Kents Store, VA), by granddaughter Bobette Richardson, 1980s; copy of notes privately held by Judy G. Russell.
  2. See Judy G. Russell, “Remembering the birthday boy,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 5 May 2012(http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 9 Jan 2015).
  3. Interview with Opal Robertson Cottrell (Kents Store, VA), by granddaughter Bobette Richardson.
  4. Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 13603 (1946), Martin Gilbert Cottrell, 26 Mar 1946; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  5. Marriage license and return, M G Cottrell-Mattie Johnson, 27 Aug 1874; County Clerk’s Office, Weatherford.
  6. See 1880 U.S. census, Clay County, Texas, Precinct 4, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 164, p. 492(B) (stamped), dwelling 17, family 17, M.G. Cottrell household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 May 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1296. Also, 1900 U.S. census, Wichita County, Texas, Iowa Park, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 127, p. 238(A) (stamped), dwelling 86, family 86, Martin “Catrell” household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 May 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1679
  7. See Ballenger & Richards 25th Annual Denver City Directory (Denver : Ballenger & Richards, 1897) 300, entry for Martin G. Cottrell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Mar 2014).
  8. Interview with Opal Robertson Cottrell (Kents Store, VA), by granddaughter Bobette Richardson.
  9. Highland Cemetery (Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas; on Rodgers Road 0.1 mile west of the intersection with Bell Road North, Latitude 33.96704, Longitude -98.6595041), Sammie Cottrell marker; photograph by J.G. Russell, 9 Nov 2002.
  10. Sexton’s Record, March 1896, Provo City Cemetery; digital images, City of Provo Public Documents (http://publicdocuments.provo.org : accessed 10 Jan 2015).
  11. Clay Rex Cottrell was born 20 April 1898. See Virginia Department of Health, Certificate of Death, state file no. 70-026729, Clay Rex Cottrell (1970); Division of Vital Records, Richmond.
  12. Two of us are here in the Beehive State today. The Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference ended yesterday; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy gets underway today with a colloquium. I’m teaching at SLIG; my cousin Paula is attending a class.
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