52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Labor

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Labor

Elsie (Naegeli) Dittrich was the daughter of Johann Albert and Francisca (Witte) Naegeli. She was born on March 6, 1891 and was married to Karl Otto Heinrich Dittrich on September 30, 1913. The Brenham Weekly Banner describes the wedding as a beautiful affair that was attended by an abundance of family and friends. The lovely bride wore a white satin gown and a veil showered with orange blossoms. The article goes on to say that “…by her sweet, winning ways, (Elsie) has won for herself a legion of friends in and out of Greenvine.” The bridegroom is similarly noted to be well known and well liked. Following the ceremony, the wedding party and guests retired to the dining room for supper.

The article concludes, “The many friends of the bride and groom wish for them a long and happy journey through life.” Sadly, this was not to be, as Elsie died during labor on August 5, 1914, less than a year after she and Otto were married. There is no further information concerning the specific residence of the couple at the time of her death, but oral family history states that they were living in Carmine, Texas. No death certificate could be found for either her or the child

At the beginning of the 20th century, for every 1000 live births, six to nine women in the United States died of pregnancy-related complications, and approximately 100 infants died before age 1 year. Maternal mortality rates were especially high in this country from 1900 to 1930 and affected women in both urban and rural areas. Midwives were trained “on the job” in rural areas and often lacked the obstetric education necessary for safe delivery practices. It is unlikely that Elsie had access to medical intervention during labor and delivery. How heartbroken Otto must have been, to lose his lovely young wife and his firstborn child. I imagine that her funeral was as beautiful as her wedding, with an abundance of family and friends to bid her farewell.

Elsie and her baby are buried in two separate graves next to her parents at the Jaeger Witte Cemetery.

Repairing Elsie’s headstone

Newspaper article detailing Elsie and Otto’s wedding

One thought on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Labor

  1. A sad story to relate.

    I found out last year that one of my grandmother’s sisters was a midwife. I have a photo of my grandmother with four of her sisters and one of them is wearing a belt with a big buckle. I showed someone the photo and she said it was a nursing belt as she had been a nurse too. I since found out that my grandmother’s sister qualified in Scotland. One of my resolutions for this year is to find out more about her as well as tying up other loose ends.

Leave a Reply