Select Page

128 years ago today

Yesterday, we are told, was National Siblings Day.

Not a formal official holiday in any sense, but a day when we can all celebrate our siblings.

A day The Legal Genealogist always has fun with … with seven siblings, I can be mad at half of them at any given moment and still be able to scrounge enough for a pickup basketball game.

But it’s also a day when I always think about the siblings that were lost.

Such as the little boy lost to my family 128 years ago today.

Sammie was the sixth of the 10 known children of my great grandparents, Martin Gilbert and Martha “Mattie” (Johnson) Cottrell, born on 5 May 1887,1 probably in Clay County, Texas. That’s where his parents and older siblings had been recorded in the 1880 census,2 and the family isn’t found in the records of Wichita County, Texas, until 1889.3

And he was just about three weeks shy of his fifth birthday when he died, 128 years ago today, on 11 April 1892. He was buried in the family plot, where his grandfather was already interred, at Highland Cemetery in Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas.4

Had he lived, he’d have been 11 years old when the youngest child of that family — my grandfather, Clay Rex Cottrell — was born in 1898.5 And you can’t help but wonder… how different would my grandfather’s life have been, had Sammie lived?

Would this have been the brother he looked up to? Who let him tag along sometimes?

Is this the one who’d have taught him to fish? Or walked him to school on his first day?

Is this the one he’d have brought his troubles to? Sought guidance and advice from?

Just how would this sibling have changed things… if things had been changed… if he had lived?

We’ll never know, of course. So we record instead the little we do know.


Born 1887.

Died 1892.

And loved. Oh so very loved. Because of all the family deaths in those years this little boy is the only one whose grave is marked by a stone, placed at the time:

Sammie Cottrell, 1887-1892

The inscription at the bottom of the stone reads:

We miss thee from our home, dear Sammie,
We miss thee from thy place,
A shadow on our life is cast,
We miss the sunshine of thy face.

A sibling, loved… and lost.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “A sibling… loved and lost,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 11 Apr 2020).


  1. 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
  2. 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, ( : accessed 11 Apr 2020); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1296.
  3. The first recorded transaction was a deed showing Sammie’s father, M.G. Cottrell, as grantee. Wichita County, Texas, Deed Book O: 64-65, 19 Sep 1889; County Clerk’s Office, Wichita Falls.
  4. Highland Cemetery (Iowa Park, Wichita Co., Tex.), Sammie Cottrell marker.
  5. See Virginia Department of Health, Certificate of Death, state file no. 70-026729, Clay Rex Cottrell (21 Sep 1970); Division of Vital Records, Richmond.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email