Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Remembering Minnie Allen 1871- 1878

Copyright 2011, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

This Sentimental Sunday morning, I am remembering a discovery I made a while back when searching through Find A Grave records online, for headstone photos and burial locations on some of my ancestors.   I came across the gravesite for little Minnie Allen, daughter of my great-grandparents Valentine Allen and Catherine Ellen (Fore) Allen.  Here is a photo of Minnie's headstone, born 1871- died 1878, buried at Allen Cemetery in Phelps County, Missouri, USA:


Finding Minnie's gravesite prompted me to recall a story related to me by my Aunt Lona, as part of the oral family history she held onto.  Whenever my elderly Aunt got an urge to share stories of the past and could find someone who might listen, she would talk about the family history stories that had been passed down to her.    From the time I was a little girl, I remember being fascinated by the stories of generations past that my Aunt could tell.  We lived across the country from my Aunt, so I did not get to hear her stories very often.  Little did I know at the time that I would one day grow up to be a full-fledged GeneAholic!  Now that my Aunt is gone, besides missing her terribly, sure wish that I had listened a little more closely to those family history stories she had to share. My Dad (her brother) rarely talked of such things, but it was my Aunt who kept the memories of the past alive and passed them down to the younger generation.

I found a mention of Minnie's death in a brief entry in the log of itinerent minister, Rev. John J Watts, from the Watts Collection  of birth, marriage and death records in Phelps and Maries County, Missouri, a partial transcript of which can be found online at

"#6 Minnie Allen

Minnie, daughter of Valentine and Catherine Allen, born on Little Piney, Pulaski Co., July 28th 1871, died there Feb. 3rd 1878, aged 6 yrs, 6 ms. and 5 days, and Aug. 25th 1878, funeral services at his house by singing, prayer and remarks by Rev. J.J. Watts= Bro. T.E. Carr failed to come as expected. Relatives: Father and Mother, 2 brothers and 5 sisters survive. "

There was, of course, more behind this story.  It is a sad story.  Little Minnie died as a result of a tragic accident.   My Aunt remembered well hearing the story of what happened to Minnie,  as told to her by her own mother; "Susan" (Susannah) Allen Harrison, younger sister of Minnie.   Minnie Allen, not yet age 7 years,  was helping to tend to her younger siblings and the baby of the family early one winter morning, while the parents were out at the barn milking the cows.  Minnie was dancing around the room merrily singing and twirling, to entertain her little sisters, baby  Lula (age 5 months), and toddlers Susan (age 3) and Amanda (age 5).   No doubt the baby and toddlers were giggling at Minnie's antics.  Older siblings Sarah (13), Stephen (11), and Napoleon (9) may have also been in the little farmhouse, or perhaps they were out helping the parents at the barn with the morning chores.  Older children rarely were exempt from the many daily chores required to maintain the family farm, feed the livestock, and milk the cows. It was a freezing winter morning with a blanket of snow covering the ground outside, but a nice warm fire crackled in the fireplace inside the farmhouse cabin.  It was a typical large open fireplace with hearth,  also used for heating kettles of water and cooking as well as for a source of heat.   All was well as the little girls played merrily in the warm cozy cabin that bleak winter morning, until suddenly tragedy struck.  As will often happen when little children are playing and prancing happily about, Minnie lost her balance, tripped and fell...right into the flickering fire in the hearth.   Minnie fell straight into the flames.  Her clothes and hair caught on fire, and she raced screaming outside, calling to her parents to help her.  My great-grandparents came running up the hill from the barn, shocked at the sight of their little girl with hair and clothes ablaze, racing towards them, pleading for help.  They did everything they could to try to save their child.  They rolled little Minnie in the snow to douse the flames, picked her up an carried her into the cabin.  They tried their best to tend to the burns suffered by their mortally injured and dying child.  They tried to comfort Minnie, and her horrified little siblings who had witnessed the accident, but there was little that could be done. They had little with which to even ease their little daughter's pain.   After lingering for 2 or 3 days with severe burns over most of her body, that poor precious little girl succumbed and went to join the angels.  

Minnie rests in the Allen family cemetery, near her parents and other family members.  My great-grandparents Valentine and Ellen had already lost 3 other of their children to childhood diseases and epedemics, before this accident took Minnie from them. When doing genealogy, we are constantly reminded of the hardships and suffering our ancestors did have to endure on a routine basis.  Hardship and loss was a part of their daily existence. They went through so much.   It makes me feel ashamed to whine about my own trivial problems, whenever I think of all they went through.

I live too far away, across the country, to have the opportunity to visit Minnie's gravesite or the gravesites of other Allen kin buried there.  The best I can do for now, is to leave virtual flowers and a praying child-angel graphic on Minnie's online memorial on Find A Grave, and record a memorial to her here as well.   Rest in Peace, little angel Minnie Allen.  You are not forgotten.