Once, back in the day, BigBroBob went to see Mom when she was in the nursing home. His visits weren’t just visits, they were events. He knew all the residents, and they loved his visits.
On his last visit with Mom, which he didn’t know would be his last, he had his notebook and did an interview.
Mom told him some stuff that, when he shared with me, I had never heard before.
It seems that her mother had been engaged before she married James Packett. She broke off the engagement when she learned that her fiance had gotten another woman with child.
But that wasn’t all. It seems that James Packett was married before, but his wife and baby had died. I thought that meant that his first wife died in childbirth.
I’ve been browsing the death records of Loudon County in 1908. There were many deaths from tuberculosis, heart problems, accidents, cancer. One of the more bizarre causes of death was pellegra. I couldn’t remember what that meant, but I did remember in health class many, many years ago, we were learning about diseases caused from nutritional issues, like scurvy, rickets, and pellegra. Sugar looked it up after I told him about it, and he said it was caused by a niacin deficiency. I looked it up, too, and the photos I saw looked like a horrible way to go. Here’s a quote from the article I read:
In the early 1900s, pellagra reached epidemic proportions in the American South. Pellagra deaths in South Carolina numbered 1,306 during the first ten months of 1915; 100,000 Southerners were affected in 1916.
All this made me curious to know more about the causes of death during this time frame. While randomly scrolling through the death records of Loudon County, I found a death certificate for Lucile Packett whose father was James Packett and mother was Willie Pierce Packett. I didn’t connect that he was my grandfather. At first glance, I thought that it was his grandfather James and grandmother Millie.
When I enlarged the certificate, I found that Lucile was the baby, and she died from “hermorrhage from the lungs following pertussis”.
And this made me curious to find out what happened to her mother, who clearly did not die in childbirth, at least not with this child.
Willie May Pierce Packett.
Willie May and Lucile are buried at Pleasant Hill Church Cemetery. I went there once maybe ten years ago to see if I could find their gravestones, and of course, I could not, because I have that issue about not being able to see things that are right there in front of me.
James went on to marry my grandmother, and if not for that, and some other factors, I wouldn’t be here today, and BigBroBob wouldn’t have been able to interview Mom.
And as grateful as I am to be here today, I still feel bad that Willie May and Lucile are buried in a different graveyard than my grandfather.
Good night, and sleep well.