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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Week 16- Alexander Sinclair

Alexander Sinclair (1899-1920)

This week's blog features my great uncle, Alexander Sinclair, who died at 20 years old in 1920.  The above 2 photos are the only ones I have seen of him.
Alex is the little barefoot boy on the left in the Sinclair family photo from about 1901.  His younger brother William is beside him and Lizze and my grandmother Mary are to his left.  Behind him are his sisters Nellie and Jean but I'm not sure which is which.  These girls were were only a year apart in age  but look like the almost same size in this picture. The Sinclairs had another daughter, born between Nellie and Lizzie in 1896.  Sadly, Wilhelmina lived only about 6 weeks. 

The photo on the right would have been taken of Alex not long before his death, I am guessing.
Alex was the son of Orkney, Scotland immigrant James Sinclair and Scotish by way of Ontario immigrant Elizabeth Henry.  He farmed 16-14-22 with his family until his untimely death.  
His mother, Elizabeth had a brother, Alexander who died at age 10 in 1882 just after the Mary Henry family came to Manitoba. Alexander Henry has a grave marker in the Rapid City cemetery, pictured above.  It appears that an accident of some sort in Rapid City claimed his young life but I have been unable to find out details about it. 

This clipping about Alex Sinclair's death has kept very well for being 96 years old.  How unfortunate to print his last name wrong but Henry was his mothers maiden name and a stepbrother Jimmie lived in the same household with the surname Henry so it is explainable.  One forgets that the custom in those days was to have funeral services from the home of the deceased. 
The Permit of  Burial  above was found in a box of papers that belonged to the Sinclairs.  It says that Alexander died of Rheumatism after a sickness of three months.  I have found during research online that influenza and rheumatic fever and their after effects were the leading cause of death in children from 5 to 20 years old in the 1920's.  The only treatment was salicylates (an aspirin like drug) and bed rest.  Sulfa drugs (penicillin) that prevent the growth of bacteria were not in common usage until WWII. 

Alexander is buried at White Bank Lea Cemetery, north of Oak River and his large marble headstone in the family plot bears the verse:
Tho' Lost To Sight
To Memory Dear
Four of Alex's cousins, children of his mother's brother, William Henry, died tragically a few miles away from the epidemic of influenza earlier that year in March of 1920.  This would have been the same time that Alexander got sick.  Their obituary notice below was found online from the Oak River Post.  

To lose four children in two days has just been the exceptionally sad
lot of Mr. and Mrs. William HENRY, the cause of death in each case being
pneumonia following influenza. George T., aged 18 years and 11 months,
and Della aged 14 years and 5 months, died less than an hour apart on
Friday morning, and Wilfred James, aged sixteen, and Edith aged eleven,
passed away early Sunday morning. The deceased were all of a robust
constitution and particularly well developed for their age, but in spite
of this and all that medical science could do for them, the disease was
of such a malignant type that they could not withstand its ravages.
The four children were buried in White Bank Lea cemetery, the former
two on Saturday forenoon and the latter two on Sunday evening, Rev. Wm.
FERGUSON officiating.
Four pleasant faces will be greatly missed from the life of our
community, and our tenderest sympathies are extended to the fond parents
in their grief.
The photo of the Henry children's grave marker at White Bank Lea is below. There is an interesting research paper online recounting life in rural Saskatchewan during the Spanish Flu Epidemic and I am sure it was a terrifying time for everyone.   
Three grandchildren of Mary Henry's sister Ellen died in 1919 of the same disease.  Erma, Doris and Melvin Wilson are buried in White Bank Lea Cemetery as well.  Stories like these from my family tree make me realize and appreciate the medical advances that have happened in the years since then and fewer families today have to deal with the heartbreak and loss that was so common in the times of my ancestors.

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