Thursday, October 23, 2014

Margaret and Anne: Two Little Sisters Lost in Time

“There was such speed in her little body,
And such lightness in her footfall,
It is no wonder her brown study astonishes us all.”[1]
These lines from John Crowe Ransom's poem swirl in my mind at the death of a small child.
Of my great-grandfather, Daniel A. Troutman’s four sisters--Ester, Margaret, Anne, and Sarah-- two never reached adulthood. Ester’s long awaited baby sister, Margaret Elizabeth, born 28 May 1830,[2] was likely named for her grandmother, Margaret Elizabeth Leonard Troutman. Perhaps she was called Peggy, a nickname for Margaret. She died of a cause unknown to me, in February 1836[3] before reaching the age of six. Ester would have been 12 years old, so little Peggy’s death would certainly have been a blow to her. Daniel was only about seven months of age when this sister died and would not remember.
Closer in age to Daniel than any of his sisters, Anne Melissa was born 18 October 1837,[4] two years and three months after Daniel’s birth. She and Daniel probably ran and jumped and climbed and played together. Or maybe Daniel was too busy trying to keep up with his big brother John to give his little sister his attention. 
At the age of eight, Anne died of a cause unknown to me on 9 November 1845.[5] The death of this second daughter certainly brought a profound sadness to all the family and much grief to her ten-year-old brother, Daniel. Anne was so cherished by her older brother Jacob that he and his wife Elizabeth Clodfelter gave her name to their first daughter.[6]
During these years, children succumbed to all kinds of illnesses, from dysentery to diphtheria to scarlet fever, measles, and more. Fortunate were parents whose children all reached adulthood. Instead of seeing these children as statistics in a list of births and deaths, I try to imagine what their lives meant to their parents and siblings. Ransom’s final stanza portrays the angst.
“But now go the bells, and we are ready,
In one house we are sternly stopped
To say we are vexed at her brown study,
Lying so primly propped.”[7]

[1] John Crowe Ransom, “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter,” Poem Hunter ( : accessed 23 October 2014).

[2] Thomas L. Troutman, ed., Descending Jacob’s Ladder: The Descendants of Johann Jacob Troutman of Iredell County, North Carolina, (1757-1846) (Unknown place: Unknown publisher, 1993), 51. This book is a compilation of family history—stories and lists of descendants—contributed by individual family members. It includes transcriptions of several original documents, but many facts are not sourced.

[3] This date appears on several family trees on, but no proof is provided. The Troutman book does not include a death date for this child, nor for Anne Melissa. It also does not include a life story for them, as it does for all their siblings, among Generation Three descendants of Jacob Troutman, which suggests that they did not reach adulthood.

[4] Troutman, Descending Jacob’s Ladder, 51.

[5] This date appears on several family trees on, but no proof is provided. See also footnote 2, above.

[6] Troutman, Descending Jacob’s Ladder, 61. This page gives two versions of the names of Jacob’s children; one names a daughter Anne Melissa and the other names a daughter Melissa Catherine. There is no other mention of Melissa Catherine in the book, but there is a brief bio of Anne Melissa, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Clodfelther Troutman on page 89, and she is mentioned again on page 159 in the bio of her son, Gus Kerr, evidence that Anne Melissa was the correct name.

[7] Ransom, “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter,” Poem Hunter.

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