Echoes Through Time

Celinda Hall Craft (1841 – 1869) Holding her child Emma Craft Monty (1866 – 1938) Picture taken about 1867. Moore family photograph from the collection of Carl Gonya.

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?

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40 Responses to Echoes Through Time

  1. Jude Cowell says:

    Reblogged this on Jude's Threshold and commented:
    So true – and an amazing photograph!

  2. Luanne says:

    I don’t know if I have ever seen such an old photo without a stilted subject and with such clarity.

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    They sure knew how to take family portraits in the olden days.

  4. Sandi McGinnis says:

    My hubby Bob has been working on old photos also. Their stories deserve to be recorded before none of us remember. My great grandfather’s sister died of tb in about the same time.

  5. Amy says:

    TB killed so many millions of people; I’ve seen so many in my own family history. We are all so lucky to have grown up in an era when there was not only better treatment, but vaccines. Thank you, Jonas Salk!

    But alas, I have no such family pictures (though some cousins have sent me scans of their old family photos). I envy all of you who do!

  6. dkheeter says:

    Beautiful picture, great story

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Having just read a biography of Emily Dickinson, I am aware of how prevalent tuberculosis was in New England. It took many far too young.

  8. dlpedit says:

    The portion of your post that discusses infant deaths reminded me of a recent visit we made to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While roaming a church graveyard there, my wife and I commented about how many infants’ graves there were, including some who were born and died the same day. What a difference with today’s medicine!

    • chmjr2 says:

      It was not that long ago that infant deaths were common enough that you would not take special notice. Now as you said we have much to be thankful for in that regard.

  9. Eilene Lyon says:

    Very true that we need to share these stories. Thanks for sharing Celinda’s. Beautiful portrait.

  10. Sharon says:

    What a wonderful posting! You told her story beautifully. This is truly a phenomenal photo of Celinda and Emma. What a treasure!

  11. The photograph is stunning. It is so clear. I enjoyed reading about Celinda and Emma, and I enjoyed how you reminded that while she died at a young age she gifted the world with her many descendants. Thank you for sharing.

  12. cbraun354 says:

    I, too, like the reminder about descendants. On the days when I wonder what I am contributing to the world, I will have an answer. Thanks! Good story!

  13. chattykerry says:

    It is a beautiful portrait that resonates with me. Both my mum and mum in law had TB, on a few occasions. Both survived unlike Celinda – how sad for her family.

    • chmjr2 says:

      TB took a toll on many families. They faced many hardships that we can’t imagine today. While I am very aware of hardships today things do get better over time.

      • chattykerry says:

        I have been reading lots of history of late, particularly about past pandemics and weather crises. Things always do get better.

      • chmjr2 says:

        The 1918 Flu Pandemic took the life of a grandmother, great grandmother and two aunts. My family’s history is all over the 1918 Flu pandemic. I have read almost everything I can get my hands on that cover that subject.

      • chattykerry says:

        It is horribly fascinating but gives us a real good perspective of our behavior today. Masks were divisive then too.

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