I struggled with this week’s prompt – Valentine. I do have a person named Valentine in my tree, but he was the husband of an ancestor’s sister. I’d rather stick to my direct ancestors for now than branch that far out. So I looked for people who were born, married or died around Valentine’s day. But again, all of the possibilities were on collateral lines.
As nobody was coming to mind, I decided to skip the theme and just pick an ancestor I felt like writing about. Since my first six 52 Ancestors posts have been on my mother’s side, I figured it was time to venture over to my father’s side for this one. And then it clicked. Lockhart. Lock Heart. Close enough to Valentine! And can you get a more romantic name than Clara Belle Lockhart? But this won’t be a romantic story. Quite the contrary, in fact – no happily-ever-afters here.
Clara Belle Lockhart was my great grandmother. She was born in 1875 in Perth, New Brunswick, Canada, the daughter of David H. Lockhart and Annie Emma Morris. Shortly after Clara was born, the family moved to Moncton, New Brunswick, where David worked as a machinist with the railway. Clara’s mother, Annie, died of consumption when Clara was 13 years old.
Clara married Robert Sharpe on April 15, 1896 in Moncton. While Robert worked as a painter at the time of his marriage, he later worked on the railroad, as a brakeman. They had four children: Beulah in 1897, Helen (my grandmother) in 1899, John in 1901 and Vera in 1905.
In 1906, when my grandmother was only 7 years old, illness swept through the family. First came the death of 15-month-old Vera in August 1906. Three weeks later, Clara died, at the age of 31. Two weeks after that, 5-year-old John died.
Growing up, I knew my grandmother, Helen (Sharpe) Cooper – she died when I was 15. She always struck me as an unhappy person, but I knew nothing about early her life until I started exploring my family history, many years after her death. Losing her mother at the age of 7 clearly had a strong impact on her. She memorialized her mother in the names of her children. She gave her son (my father) the middle name Lockhart, and her daughter (my aunt) the middle name Clara.
So Clara Lockhart, who died at the early age of 31, lived on in the grandchildren she never knew.