Saturday, 17 May 2014

Week 20 - Glenn James Simms


Glenn James Simms (1923 - 1925)

This is another blog of a relative who died far too young, Dad's older brother. Glenn was born July 17, 1923 to parents Alex and Mary (Sinclair) Simms. He died at the age of 2 years as Aunt Dodie writes about in her memoirs: 
Little Glennie James, twin to Gwennie Elizabeth, passed away from what they called in those days “summer complaint” a form of dysentery, now known from drinking contaminated milk. No deep freezes or refrigerators in those days. If you wanted to keep food or milk cool, you would hang it in a container, suspended by a rope down a well or set it in the cellar (or earthen floor) to keep it as cool as possible.

From left to right - Doris, Gwen, Glen and Bob Simms
Little Glennie passed away on Sept.5, 1925 – Bobby’s 9th birthday. The funeral was held from the house. I can still see the little white coffin. My dad picked me up to see him in it, wearing little white rompers. I can also remember going to the White Bank Lea cemetery, across fields. The old car made into a truck was the hearse and it broke down on the way. Some other truck took it to the cemetery and that is all I recall. I know they grieved terribly. I was too young to take it all in but I know she cried a lot as she cuddled Gwennie, who was very fretful for a long time.

Gwen and Glenn Simms
Online research indicates that summer complaint was a common cause of death for children between their 1st and 2nd birthdays.    Many children would be weaned from breast milk when they turned a year old and would begin drinking cow's milk. The milk would of course be unpasteurized and kept wherever it would be cool. During the summer, often it was not cold enough to kill the germs. Older children would become immune to the bacteria but younger children were vulnerable. Severe diarrhea and dehydration would cause death in a matter of days and there were no antibiotics to cure the infection once it set in.
Gravestone for Glennie and his parents at White Bank Lea Cemetery, RM of Blanshard, Manitoba

Twins! Mary Simms with Gwen, and Glen on left.
Also Shorts, Wertepney, Ramsay twins
We think twins now are a lot of work, Imagine the days before disposable diapers, electric appliances es, microwaves and all the other conveniences we take for granted. My Grandma Mary and Grandpa Alex Simms had two sets of fraternal twins a boy and a girl, nine years apart.  They are genentically passed down on the female side of the family and one of the Simms twins has twin grandsons today. 

From a Roots Web post:
7/18/1923 Twin boy and girl, were born to Mr. and Mrs. Alex. SIMMS yesterday

I also found an almost unbelievable statement from the Oak River Post online through Roots Web:
2/6/1924    The records of this Municipality show that in 1923 half of the births were twins. 1924 has started out in the same humor.

I wonder if this is an exaggeration?  Today twins occur about 120 times out of 1000 births, according to this source.   Hard to beieve that so many twins were born in such a small area.  Even more amazing that it all happened at home without doctors in sterile settings only ninety years ago!


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