Base of Gravestone of Susan Wilcox (1834-1918), “Mother”
The sorrows of motherhood and the difficulty of raising children safely to adulthood more than a century ago were poignantly brought to mind by a grouping of gravestones I happened upon last Fall in the cemetery of the old Pembroke Chapel (originally Methodist and later a United Church) in Pembroke, Nova Scotia.
Situated beside the gravestones for Susan Wilcox (1834-1918) — prominently marked “Mother” — and her husband, Nathan (1827 -1899), are markers for five of their children, each of whom predeceased their parents: Cyrus, who it’s noted “Drowned At Sea”, aged 27 years, 1887; Norman F., aged 2 yrs. 7 mos., 1861; Annie E., aged 13 mos., 1871; Frederick W., aged 1 yr., 1873; and Cora M., aged 1 day, 1877.
My curiosity prompted a search of old genealogical records here, which revealed that Susan and Nathan Wilcox had a total of 11 children (born between 1859 to 1880) — quite a brood! Families were larger then partly because additional helping hands were needed and life was understood to be more precarious. To lose a child is an unbearable thought for any parent and to have five leave this world before either parent sounds utterly tragic. Even though they had six children that survived them and considering that many things about life being very tough may have been taken in stride back then, I imagine that this mother and father must have endured an immense measure of grief.
Thus, this homage to motherhood and Mother’s Day and a reminder to be thankful for family, friends and other loved ones, as well as to treasure each of our precious days (on Mother’s Day and beyond).
Gravestones for Nathan and Susan Wilcox Family, Pembroke, Nova Scotia
Markers of Norman F., Annie E., Frederick W. and Cora M. Wilcox
Markers of Cyrus Wilcox and his mother, Susan Wilcox
Old Pembroke Chapel, Pembroke, Nova Scotia
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* Canada’s Oldest Regular Cemetery: Garrison Cemetery, Annapolis Royal, N.S.