The death of any child before his time is a devastating blow to the parents.
Even into the 20th century, infant and child mortality were extremely high. With primitive pre-natal, obstetric or pediatric care and little attention to basic sanitation, one in four babies died before their fifth birthday. Another 10% would die before they reached puberty. In harsh wilderness environments, the incidence of early death was even higher.
Large families were common, however. Many women bore eight, ten or more children. With such physical strain coupled with normal aging, later children were frequently born weaker and more likely to succumb early.
Families were accustomed to small coffins.
The Typical Coolidge Gang
Calvin and Grace Coolidge were exceptions. Grace Goodhue (1879-1957) was an only child. Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) had only one sister, and she died young. “Only” children tend not to want “only” children. The Coolidges…
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