The children who died in infancy
Three of Elisha and Harriet's children died within twelve days of one another in a Scarlet Fever epidemic in 1874: Oswald James Owen was born on 24 September 1871 (christened at Wistanstow on 24 September 1871, [Church Stretton 1871, 2nd qt.]) and died on Wednesday, 17 June 1874: Gertrude Evelyn Owen was born in 1872 (christened at Wistanstow on 26 May 1872) and died on on Saturday, 13 June: May Owen in 1873 (christened at Wistanstow on 8 June 1873) and died on Wednesday, 24 June, aged one [all deaths Church Stretton 1874, 2nd qt]. In those days such epidemics occurred quite regularly and several areas were badly affected that year. The three children were buried in Wistanstow churchyard. I was told that Oswald died of scarlet fever though Gertrude’s death certificate states she died as a result of convulsions and congestion of the brain (12 hours) and that Louisa Maria Wilding, Harriet’s younger sister, was present at her death. I was told the resident nursemaid also fell ill and died but Louisa survived.
Tragically, two more of their children died early in 1897 [reg. Church Stretton 1897, 1st qt]. They were Gladys Elaine Owen [b. Church Stretton 1885, 3rd qt] and Rachel Violet Owen [b. Church Stretton 1896, 4th qt]. The cause of death for Gladys, who died on 6 March 1897, was given as 'cerebro-spinal fever (14 days) and exhaustion'. Gladys was eleven when she died and her siblings, Effie, Frank, Vera, Norman and Nigel, all of who survived into adulthood, were old enough to remember her; they often spoke of her in later life. In Wistanstow churchyard a stone angel stood as her memorial. Rachel was less than a year old. The cause of death in her case was given as Marasmus, a condition characterised by a failure to grow associated with progressive wasting of tissue. It describes only the symptoms, not the cause of these symptoms, which could well have been brought on by the same illness that struck down her sister. >