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We all have a story to tell. Some speak louder than others. Listen closely to hear the stories of our ancestors echoing under our footsteps. They are the authors. We are the keepers.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Moment to Remember: Siblings, Charles and Nellie Judson

Something has weighed heavy on my heart these past few days. It stays with me. It crosses my mind everyday. Why is this affecting me? How can something that happened 130 years ago reach out and clutch the raw core of my maternal emotions?

On December 26, 1879 one day after Christmas, Lewis and Helen Judson had to say goodbye to their three year old son, Charles Raymond Judson as angels carried him to heaven. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio two days later on 28th of December.

Eight days after they laid their precious child in the ground the unthinkable happened again. On January 5, 1880 Lewis and Helen Judson's 19 month old daughter, Helen "Nellie" Judson also passed away. She was laid to rest next to her brother on the 7th of January in Woodland Cemetery.

Lewis and Helen were left with one child, a four year old daughter, Bertha J Judson. Four years passed before they celebrated another birth. They went on to have three more children: Margaret Louise, Lewis Raymond, and William Levis (my great grandfather).

By 1900 the family had moved away from Dayton to Toledo, Ohio, but upon their passing both Lewis and Helen returned to Dayton to join their beloved children in Woodland Cemetery Section 24 on a rolling hill in Lot 1470 under the shade of century oaks.

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and sorrow of those days. We all process information in unique ways depending on circumstances in our own lives. We absorb details to which we can relate and struggle with those to which we cannot. At this point in my life I am a mother - a mother of three children. At this time of year when moments with family are held so dear, in the quiet corners of my heart, I hold onto the memory of Helen and her children. May her experience 130 years ago lead me to see my troubles in perspective, to hold my children a little bit longer, and to reach out with a compassionate heart to others who might be in the midst of painful struggles.

Lewis and Helen Judson are my great great grandparents.

Lewis and Helen (Hogue) Judson on Warren Street, Toledo, Ohio, c1910. Photograph in "Grandmother Remembers" scrapebook compiled by Lois Jaqueline (Judson) Wells. Photograph originally from Helen Julia (Hogue) Judson's Family Album, 1903-1910. Privately held by Herstoryan, Houston, Texas. 2009

Charles Raymond Judson, Age 1. Photograph. Taken at Niagara Falls c1877. Privately held by Herstoryan, Houston, Texas. 2009



  1. Such a sad, tragic story. There were so many childhood diseases that we had no cures for back then, it's amazing just how many children lived to adulthood.
    Woodland Cemetery is a huge place. Have you ever been there? It's Dayton's most historic cemetery.

  2. What a beautiful tribute. I, like you, am touched by our ancestors' past ~ their triumphs and their tragedies. It's what brings them back to life. It makes them "real."


  3. That truly is a sad story, and a lovely tribute from you. I can't imagine how awful that must have been.

  4. Great photo! Your great-great grandfather reminds me a bit of the actor Sam Elliott, and it appears from his stance that he knows he's handsome! It also looks as if he might just have said something a bit 'racy' to your great-great grandmother, and she turned to say "Now, Lewis..."

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beautifully written. Our ancestors must have had great strength and a strong faith to endure such tragedy. Unfortunately, it happened too often.

  6. A lovely tribute - you expressed so well that pang that hits us (mothers perhaps most of all) when we contemplate the death of young children.

  7. What a heartbreaking and touching story. I think most mother's could empathize with how you are feeling. I can't tell you how many times I have shed tears while learning of my ancestors struggles.

  8. You tell stories of the heart, my friend. Thanks.