• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Saturday, January 21, 2012


My mother's paternal grandmother, Phoebe Alice Campbell nee Tolman, died in January 1939, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, the small town I would grow up in.

Cardston  is where the nearest hospital is.  She lived in Hillspring, Alberta, Canada. My mother grew up there. Great-Grandma  is buried there, by her husband.

Notice her grave stone spells her name without an o. It should have an o. Her death certificate adds an i to her name - but as far as I have been able to determine her name did not have an i.

According to family "lore" she was quite ill for sometime before her passing. Aunt LuRay Jensen told me that her mother was not well any time after she was struck by lightening. I will look for that story. I think I wrote it out.

The 20 December 1928 edition of the Cardston News indicated she was "bedfast" for about a week at that time.

Pedigree charts say she died on the 21st day of January 1939. Her grave marker says the 30th and her death certificate says the 17th. Great Grandpa William Warren Campbell filled out the paper work on the 18th.

I suspect that the date on the gravestone refers to her burial. In that time period many things (including dates and the spelling of words and places) were not standardized. Many people of the older generations did not or could not read and write. Great-grandfather apparently could. He spells her birth place as 'Tuilla' - that is how 'Toole' Utah is spoken [Too-ill-ah].

 I suppose a government certificate makes the 17th official - either that or it needs to be corrected - I have seen errors on 'official' documents. I suppose some research is in order before a history can be written.

Found 24 February 2014: The 24 January 1939 edition of the Cardston News published Hillspring news from 23 of January (a Monday) states that Alice "passed away at the Cardston hospital early Wednesday morning." The previous Wednesday was 18 January 1939. It appears that "early in the morning" may make the official report become the 17th.

My mother knew her grandmother and grandfather and can tell stories about visiting with them. I have recorded and written down some of those stories. I want to put together a short biography of her if possible. Did you know her? Did one of your parents? Do you have any pictures of her? I have a few.

My favorite shows her with some grandchildren. It is casually labeled. I know that Ruth and Walton are my mother, Jean's, older siblings and Flora is a younger sister (by just over 2 years). The next younger sibling, Allen, is just less than 2 years younger than Flora - perhaps he is the un-named baby in her arms. I think mom and her siblings are on the left in this photo.

I know Roberta is Uncle Ted [Laurence Edward] Campbell's daughter. I assume that is her on the right and that the two boys on the right are Laurence and Ross but we really do not know who the baby is. I look at the pose of her seated, surrounded by her grandchildren, with a baby on her arm. Are they perhaps on their way to or from church? was it a special event? maybe for the baby? I may never know.

My grandfather, William David Campbell [know to friends as Bill] - her son, liked to take pictures but I do not have any that I know he took of her. I like to think he may have taken this one of his mother with his children but such notions are mere speculation.

When I visit the cemetery where she is buried I look around at the land where she lived. I see the mountains and hills, the sun and sky and clouds of that place. I feel the keen wind of Southern Alberta. I think of her life in a place and time I can only imagine. How I wish she had written even a few sentences to tell us about any part of her family or life.

I wonder if any of her children or grandchildren recorded anything about their life or her influence of interactions with them. She was a nurse and midwife. She attended training in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I wonder how many babies arrived with her in attendance. Did any of their families record her name or how she helped them?

Found February 24, 2014: The 3rd of September 1931 edition of the Cardston News published the following information about two babies (at number 2. and 3.) born in Hillspring. "Mrs. Campbell attended" the births.

At the top of this clipping we see a Mr. and Mrs. George Tolman camping at the mountains (number 1). This would most likely be her younger brother George Tolman and his wife Emily Cheney. My mother has many cherished memories with "Uncle George and Aunt Emma."

I have kept a journal since I was 14 years of age.
I do not write every day.
But I do write - I try to write a little bit.

Will my children and grandchildren pore over it's pages someday? Will they find word pictures of my life, the places I have been and even of themselves? Will they want to know only what medicines, machines and innovations we do and do not have or will they want to also know what I believed or how I lived?

I don't know.

Have you written a sentence or two about your family or life?
Do you keep a journal?
What 'snapshot' does it capture?