The sad news of the death of dear Ollie Beerbower at the young age of 23 must have been devastating to the family.
It is understandable that the family would have wanted to take her back to Marion, Ohio to be buried with her ancestors, and so the family could congregate and share their grief as well as their happy memories. No parent should have to watch their child die, and they would need the loving embrace of family to help them get through the early days of their loss.
Ollie’s father Samuel Beerbower took ill suddenly after her death, so the family decided not to travel to Marion, Ohio for Ollie’s funeral. Nancy Jane Huggins Beerbower, Ollie’s mother, must have had a very difficult time with the loss of her child and her husband so ill. We do not know if any of the Marion or Indianapolis family attended the Winterset funeral, as the newspapers for Winterset are not yet online, but we have found no mention in the Marion papers of the family traveling to Iowa.
Ollie had been ill for just a brief time, with the cause of death listed as “a low-type of fever” and “nervous prostration.” One definition of ‘nervous prostration’ is “An emotional disorder that leaves you exhausted and unable to work.” With having a fever as well, there would have been issues other than just emotional- one type of typhoid causes a ‘derangement of the nervous system’ as well as fever, and there are many types of fevers that can be lethal, especially in the days before antibiotics.
Ollie’s obituary was carried in the Marion, Ohio newspapers due to all the family she had there, and the friends she would have made growing up in Marion.
It is always nice to know a bit about the personality of a relative, and Ollie’s final tribute informs us of her kindness and her “gentle and true nature.” The family did lose a family treasure.
The sympathy of the community was not limited to Winterset, Iowa- those in Marion also expressed their sorrow and support to Samuel T. Beerbower’s family. (Ollie’s grandparents had already passed on.) Olive passed away on 04 March 1879, and, in addition to the food and cards that probably were provided very soon after that date, about 3 weeks later the community “surrounded” the family, and gave them an opportunity to enjoy themselves and begin to move on after the untimely death of a loved one.
Notes, Sources, and References:
1) There is a wonderful article on the emotional toll of the loss of a loved one post-Civil War in JSTOR Daily, called “Forgetting Abraham Lincoln.” Martha Hodes is the author, and it was published 25 March 2015. It may be read here:
2) Definition from Wordnet per “Archaic Medical Terms” website: http://www.antiquusmorbus.com/English/EnglishN.htm
3) Marion Daily Star article citations in captions.
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