During the course of putting my things in storage at my mom’s house before my impending move to California, I discovered a black, lace-bound “Memory Book” high atop a shelf. To my surprise and delight, it was a scrapbook of newspaper clippings, photos, letters and sundry items having to do with the history of my father’s family. It was a great find; with my dad gone, my mom, sister and I have only a sketchy idea of names, dates and events from our family’s past. It’s comforting to know that we have loads of family records in files that I hope to go through in the near future.
On the first page of the Memory Book was a death notice of a twenty-three-year old woman that clarified a question I had asked my mom just a week ago. The woman’s name was Amanda Bolsta, wife of Hartley. She left behind an infant daughter who was her namesake. Nearly seventy years later, I would come to know this child as my Auntie Mannie.
It’s a tragic story, to be sure, but one that also proves that death is just as much of a beginning as an ending. For in a cruel yet life-giving twist of fate, Amanda’s final breath turned out to be the breath of life for me. Hartley soon married Amanda’s sister, Ella, and together they had a son, Charles, who sixty-two years later became my grandfather. While I mourn the death of a vibrant young woman, I cannot help but bow in gratitude to the universal force that decided that the Bolsta lineage was due to be redirected.
Yes, Amanda’s sad and sudden end made my existence possible as well as that of my beloved daughter. Perhaps we will meet some day in the realm where she has resided for the last one hundred seventeen years. If so, I will embrace her and whisper two words in her ear: “Thank you.”
Here, recreated word for word, is the 1893 newspaper notice of Amanda’s death:
BOLSTA—Amanda C., wife of Hartley Bolsta at Ortonville April 19, 1893.
Immediate cause of death was a ruptured blood vessel on the brain.
The death of Amanda C. Bolsta, wife of Hartley Bolsta of this place, which occurred Wednesday morning at six o’clock is one of the saddest. The couple had been married less than a year and this blow, coming as it does, passes a shade of gloom over the whole city. The deceased was one of Ortonville’s popular young women, respected by all, and by her death a happy home is broken up. She leaves an infant daughter, a loving husband and all Ortonville to mourn her death.
The deceased was 23 years, 10 months and 1 day of age. For a year she had been troubled with her head the result of a tumor on the brain: this was probably aggravated by the birth of the little daughter. The immediate cause of her death was the rupturing of a blood vessel in the brain. The family and friends have the sympathy of the entire community.
I’m not the only person who is here today due to the tragic demise of somebody else. My friend Russ Blixt has an equally powerful story. Click here to read it.
Click here to see all my posts featuring my life stories.
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Tags: family history