Five little Price children: ALWAYS REMEMBER

Posted on March 19, 2010


Earlier this evening I took the long way home from Charlevoix, winding along the Flat Road.  There, across from the Antrim Creek Natural Area, the land rises.  Along the ridge, the old tombstones of the Antrim City cemetery look out over Grand Traverse Bay.  After a couple of weeks of sunshine and warmth, we are back to March, and a cold wind blew as I parked and got out of the car.  I was looking for some puzzle pieces, but what I found was this:

I knew about this tragedy. Months ago I was poring over 19th century Antrim County death certificates when I came upon Price after Price. I looked at the dates and wept.  But it did not end with them.  In my notes I wrote:

Five tiny Price children died of diphtheria in Banks Township in one terrible week in October, 1879.  Two children of David and Mary Bener followed.  In Central Lake, three of Mary and Cyrenius Powers’ children died.  Their father had died of a fall from a wagon in July.  How did Mary survive?  In January two Wadsworth children died in Central Lake.  Another lived until June, then died.

In 1881, in the fall, smallpox swept through the Indian community in Milton Township.  Four Sanoke children, Samuel Nock We Ge Zick, Mary No Pe One Quay – all dead.  In 1882 diphtheria struck in the summer.  The plagues moved east to Mancelona and Star.  Three little Johnstons, two Goosberry children, a third the following spring.  Then the two tiny Clark sisters. 

The dreadful list goes on and on: Scarlet Fever, Typhoid, Measles, Cholera, Spinal Meningitis, Stillborn, Scalded.  Little children died so easily . . . so often.

I did not expect to see the memorial to the Price children, the plea by their grieving parents that we should not forget them.  Today, more than 130 years later, we near a historic vote in the Congress of the United States of America.  The five little Price children have moved me again, this time to anger.

Congressman Stupak, it is time—past time—to move forward on accessible, affordable health care for every American.  Your attempts to stop this effort in its tracks in order to posture and pontificate are unconscionable.  There is no excuse.  There is no turning back.  It is time. 

Support health care reform now. 

And that is all that I, or the Price children, have to say about that.