June 14, 2011

Walter F. Bishop, Aged 20 yrs. - Tombstone Tuesday

Walter’s is the last entry among my series of posts on the Bishops buried in Freedom West Cemetery in the small town of Freedom, Portage County, Ohio. His tombstone reads:

                                         WALTER F.
                                            Son of
                                     F. & S. A. BISHOP
                                      Sept. 2, 1871
                                       Aged 20 yrs.

There is a verse at the bottom, but the ravages of time have made it illegible. I haven’t found an obituary for Walter yet, and it seems his death wasn’t recorded with the county, so I’m not sure what caused his death at the cusp of young adulthood. Was it a sudden accident or a prolonged illness? I do know Walter F. Bishop was born on August 17, 1851 in Freedom. He likely was named after his older brother, Walter H., who died as a toddler in 1845.

The other thing I know for certain is that his mother, Sarah Ann Bishop, took his death hard. I’m fortunate that her diary from 1873 has survived, and that my father-in-law has entrusted it to me. Week after week, she lamented the loss of Walter. Sarah had already lost her husband, Fitch, in 1868, and her 26-year-old son Albert. On August 17th, she wrote, “This is the birthday of my husband and Walter too, one would have been 62 and the other 22, but their race is run, how soon may mine be…” On September 2, 1873, she wrote, “…this is a solemn day, 2 years since poor precious Walter died.” Her grief is evident throughout the diary. 

Sarah's diary offers a priceless glimpse into her day-to-day life. Oddly enough, there is no tombstone for her at Freedom Cemetery--or anywhere else, as far as I know. But that is a story for another day.

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