These are among my favorite photos that I got a few months ago from my Dad’s cousin. They are wedding portraits of my great-grandparents Catherine Breen and James O’Connor, taken in 1900. I had actually only seen pictures of them when they were older. I think they look stunning.
From family information and records I knew that Catherine was one of 11 children and that by the time she reached adulthood 9 of her siblings had died. Only her and her sister Mary lived. The website Familysearch.org has a large database of records and I searched one of the children’s names and found he died in March of 1881. It wasn’t until I searched another sibling and realized I got the same page did I come to the sad understanding that not two, but three of the children all died in the same month. One died of tuberculosis and two of diphtheria. It’s a strange phenomenon to search for family history and find not just the joyful marriages and births, but the tragic deaths as well. Even though it’s far in the past it’s hard not to find the information shocking and sad and to wish things had gone otherwise. On my husband’s side we uncovered that his great-great grandfather died of an appendicitis just a month after his great grandmother was born. I’ve come to realize through this ancestry research just how lucky we are with modern medicine. It’s something I took for granted before.
This last photo is the wedding group shot of Catherine’s sister Mary’s wedding in 1898. The bride and groom are just behind and to the left of the two little boys in front. I would imagine that with the difficult times our family members made it through that celebrations like this were quite welcomed.