I have been working on old photographs for some time now. I have a great collection that was given to me on a flash drive from my wife’s cousin Carl Gonya. As I was working on these and having them printed, I discovered the above photograph. It is remarkable in several ways. In one way, it is remarkable is that my wife’s Great -Great Grandmother Celinda Hall Craft is holding her Great Grandmother Emma Craft Monty. The other thing that makes this an exceptional picture is that it was taken sometime in 1867, just two years before Celinda’s death due to Consumption.
Celinda grew up in a large family, at least by today’s standards, where she was one of at least seven children born to Simeon and Betsey Cochran Hall. Celinda was to live all of her life in Isle La Motte, Grand Isle, Vermont. Celinda was married to Stephen Craft on April 16, 1864. This was Celinda’s first marriage and Thomas’s second as his first marriage ended in divorce. On June 15, 1866, they became the proud parents of Emma Linda Craft. Emma would be the only child that they would have that would survive infancy. Pregnancy had to be very difficult for Celinda as she was suffering from Consumption or as we know it today by the name Tuberculosis.
When Celinda was alive, Tuberculosis was not understood. The cause was not to be discovered until 1882. In an article that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly magazine in 1869, one theory was that soil that was damp most of the time caused Tuberculosis. People were encouraged to only live in sunlit houses on dry soil. Also, many believed it was something in the air. However, it was not thought to be contagious, so no precautions were taken when a person was suffering from Tuberculosis. Most likely, Celinda caught this disease from her father, Simeon Hall, who died of Tuberculosis at the age of 60 in 1858.
In 1869 Celinda was pregnant and suffering from Tuberculosis. On August 8, 1869, she delivered a baby girl who was named Elizabeth (Lizzy). Lizzy was to die on August 19, 1869, having spent only eleven days in this world. No doubt weakened by her pregnancy, Celinda succumbed to Tuberculosis on August 23, 1869, just four days after her newborn baby. Celinda’s husband was to remarry in 1873, but Emma was to remain his only living child.
Little else is known about Celinda. This is due in part to the more than 150 years that divides us from when she was alive. Also, as many of you know, researching female relatives that live a century or more ago is difficult to get much information about, and her short life hinders research. The positive part of Celinda’s story is how her life and sacrifices have echoed through time. I have 32 direct descendants listed in my family tree (I am sure there are more) that have walked or are walking on this earth because of her. She has brought to this world farmers, teachers, nurses, law enforcement, soldiers, town justices, social workers, and much more. This is not a bad accomplishment for someone who was very ill and lived only 28 years.
We all have these pictures in our families. You have to power to add a little color to them by telling their story. If you do not, who will?