Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 William John Stevens

William John Stevens, my second great-grandfather, was the fourth of five children born to Thomas K. Stevens and Susan Elizabeth Day.

According to his death certificate and the 1900 US Federal Census, William was born March 29, 1879 in New Foundland, Canada. I haven't had success in locating a birth record. FamilySearch boasts an extensive collection of vital records from the time period. Unfortunately, they're not indexed and I don't know in which parish or district he was born. I'm hopeful a birth record will soon surface from my time-intensive document trawling.

William John Stevens - February 1916 Will and Testament
William passed away quite young; he was only 36 years old. Tragically, it appears he knew he was dying. In February 1916, one month before his death, William drafted his will. It's moving to read how he bequeaths his estate and effects "unto my beloved wife, Eva A. Stevens, absolutely; and I appoint her sole executrix of this my will, and guardian of my infant children during their respective minorities."

The cause of death was a frightening (yet archaic) combination of mitral insufficiency and Bright's disease, both complicated by protracted "Dropsy miner's disease." William was buried in Idaho Springs in the cemetery where his father and older brother were already interred. His mother, Susan, outlived both her husband, William and two other children.

From his will and death certificate, I've learned that William operated a plumbing and drainage business (which he also left to his wife Eva). But the cause of death "Dropsy miner's disease" suggests that, like his father before him, he was also a miner for some time. I wonder if symptoms from miner's disease began to appear and prompted him to change his profession, but too late?

I can only speculate. Regardless of the cause, his untimely passing was tragic - leaving his widow to raise two young children, including my great-grandmother Bernice Stevens.

Sadly, the family's tragedy would continue. We'll pick that story up next week.

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