A Glimpse into the Past

Guess what? It’s a rainy day (are ALL Saturdays rainy?). I had a busy, somewhat trying week. During a lull in the action, I consoled myself by doing a little genealogical research online. I needed the morale boost of a discovery — and I got it! Searching through the Las Animas Mining Record, I found some interesting tidbits about our Hough ancestors. As my DP knows, Susie Hough, the daughter of our great, great grandparents, John S. Hough and Mary Prowers Hough, died in 1875. We have not had much luck finding out about her death, although we are piecing circumstances together bit by bit. The other day I came across this little notice in the Las Animas paper dated November 19, 1875:

The obvious conclusion is that Susie had some chronic illness — perhaps tuberculosis — and her parents sent the girls back to John’s relatives in Philadelphia in hopes of finding a cure. Presumably, when her health deteriorated further, they brought her home. Susie died 10 days after her return. The paper in Council Grove, Kansas included this notice (dated 12/15/1875).

Logic dictates that she is buried in Las Animas, although we have not found evidence of her grave there. When Susie’s sister Ida passed away fifteen months later from a sudden illness, the Pueblo Colorado Weekly Chieftain published this appreciative obituary:

Ida Hough  – Lake City, July 12 –Death at all times produces sadness, but when it claims as its victim one so young, so amiable, so intelligent and so much esteemed, as was Miss Ida Hough, and the death of whose sister, a most estimable lady herself, preceded her own by only fifteen months, it awakens in us the heartiest sympathy for the relations of the deceased, and illustrates the truth of the maxim that the ways of Providence are inscrutable. It was but a few days ago that Miss Ida was on our streets apparently well, looking well and attracting all that delicate attention due a refined and cultivated lady. Now she is no more – no more on earth, but her immortal spirit dwells in heaven – no more on earth, but her virtues will long be remembered. She died yesterday in this city at the home of her father, John T. Hough, Esq. In this particularly sad bereavement, the parents and relatives of the deceased have the heartfelt sympathies of this entire community.

The family survived the terrible double-blow, and life eventually returned to normal. Anna Hough, our great-grandmother, graduated from school in 1878 with an award in music.

Interestingly, the school was founded by Mattie Livingstone Lykins, who named it after her late husband Johnson Lykins, an early missionary in Kansas famous for working with the Shawnee. Later, he became the second mayor of Kansas City. Mattie Lykins Bingham seems to have been quite a gal.  A fervent Confederate sympathizer, she nevertheless married Unionists. Her second husband was George Caleb Bingham! All of this goes to show that differing political opinions need not cause extreme discord.

But I digress.

A month or so after Anna’s graduation, the paper reported,

I am struck not only by the close-knit community of friends but by the ease and frequency with which the Houghs traveled back and forth from Colorado to Kansas and even farther afield, often in search of a healing climate. In 1782, for example, the Las Animas paper noted:

I wonder what afflicted little Frank. Whatever it was, this time the trip seems to have had the desired effect, for he survived into adulthood, eventually to outlive his poor mother and die at a party while dancing a jig.  Ah, life has always been a struggle, hasn’t it? We can only aspire to face it with the fortitude and joie de vivre that the Houghs did.

This reminds me of a passage from Mark Helprin’s Freddy and Fredricka that contains great advice about how to do well in life:

“All you need do is refrain from smoking, drinking, and the use of drugs. Eat only wholesome, low-fat foods, with the emphasis on vegetables, grains, and fish. Seek work. Work hard. Show up on time. Do more than is expected. Think of ways to make the job efficient. Don’t complain. Shave, bathe, and wear clean clothes. Be cheerful. Don’t gamble. Live within your means. Save. And then, when you have all this in balance, study things of substance. Read to satisfy your curiosity. Don’t father children out of wedlock or bear them as a single mother.”

Pay heed.

Stay tuned next week for a post focused on the Prowers.

Before I sign off, I must share bad news about our nesting cardinals. The other morning we discovered an empty nest and have seen no sign of the birds since. Whatever took the eggs — if the nest ever contained eggs — left no trace. Nature red in tooth and claw, indeed.