As I wondered the cemeteries, I wondered what I could learn about a person or family by just what was in the cemetery. No computer look-ups. No prior knowledge of the family. No other information than what was literally in front of me.
And that's when I found myself in front of the James and Elizabeth Ladson family plot in St. Michael's Church on Meeting Street. This gravestone in particular caught my attention.
This gravestone has six (6) Ladson children listed! It was a bit difficult to read in the cemetery and in the photograph, but modern technology (i.e. Picasa) helped me decipher it.
- Robert Gilmore Ladson - died 26 May 1828, aged 1 year 53 days
- Frederick Fraser Ladson - died 29 Jun 1830,aged 4 years 6 months
- Judith Eliza Ladson - died 2 Jul 1830, aged 9 years 11 months
- Eliza Caroline Ladson - died 23 Jun 1835, aged 10 months 6 days
- Charlotte Josephine Ladson - died 25 Jul 1837, aged 6 months 2 days
- James Ladson - died 6 Jul 1839, aged 17 years
Five of the children died before the age of 10 years. All died in the early summer months.
Here are a few of my theories:
- Charleston, SC is very hot and muggy during the summer months. It is also very "buggy". (Wear bug repellent when exploring this city's cemeteries! I learned the hard way.) Mosquitoes and other bugs can carry illnesses. Perhaps this was a contributing factor in these children's deaths.
- With the young age of the the first five children listed, could there be a genetic disorder present in this family? Or at the very least, a genetic predisposition toward weak a immune system.
- Early medicine being what is was, the children may have died from common childhood illnesses.
In addition to the six children above, Elizabeth Ladson lost at least one other daughter in early adulthood as well as her husband. There is no doubt about it. Life was hard for this family. It is hoped that in the midst the grief, joy was also found.