"History of My Life"
by Beatrice Mesker (1909)

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This is a brief chronicle written by Beatrice Mesker (1893-1918) in 1909, when she was about sixteen years old. Beatrice's granddaughter, Kathy Rutledge Wright, found it in a small notebook that appears to be a high school biology notebook. Kathy transcribed it in 2003. When I (Brian J. Smith) transcribed it for this website, I corrected a few grammatical and spelling errors, but not all of them.


 I was born Sunday, July fourth, eighteen ninety three.

My life, until the age of twelve, was unevented. The first five years of my life were very ordinary, living happy and contented with my mother, father, and two brothers, at the south end of the city of Niagara Falls, N.Y. My mother and father, though comparatively poor, were good, young, and ambitious. Papa worked on the railroad and was being promoted. At this time he bought a very pretty little home at the north end of the city. Here we lived in harmony for seven more years, during which time an addition of a brother and sister was made to our family. We were blessed with every comfort. This stage of my life was the brightest and happiest of all. It was a happy, pure, innocent childish life, free from all care and trouble. For whatever were our parent's troubles, they never reached us. We were the happiest, most robust, and free of care children. In fact, we were too happy to last, and as our happiness came, so did our trials and troubles. And these were all the harder to bear, because we were unprepared for them.

When I was at the age of twelve, my father became seriously ill, and operation was the only help and ten days later, death was the final result. It was shortly after this that my sister was born, and with very poor health too. Mama was also afflicted by the terrible disease Consumption. Papa did not leave us in a dependent case for he left us a small insurance and a comfortable home. With the insurance we made ends meet and kept up an insurance on Mama's life. Lo with one taken and one given to our family worked great changes. This was in March, Spring just budding forth. The happiest of all seasons. But not with me this year or since. For I missed my dear father very much and I was just at the age to realize the great and sad change which had come over our family. Mama yearned and we all wished for Papa. This was the saddest year of all my life so far. But as it came it also went. In sadness. But still the children all being young and of a happy nature, our blithsome and guileless play was not interrupted in the least by this awful change.

Then Summer came and everything went on the same as Spring. And in the winter, my father's mother, heartbroken, died on the Jan. 1907. Until Spring again. Mama was worse. Tho she had been under the doctor's care continually. He told her she must go away. So after some hesitation and consideration, she decided to go. Louis and Joseph were put in an asylum in Buffalo called Father Baker's. I was put in a Technical High School managed by the Sisters of Mercy. My aunt took charge of Bianca and Francis went with mama to her brother's farm in Canada. Thus we were separated for three months. The closest ties between us being correspondence through mail. Those were terrible three months to me, and to all of us. Though the sisters were kindness itself to me, I was still lonesome and homesick. But even all that, I think the happiest day of all my life was spent here. For I made my First Communion here and was confirmed soon after. That was indeed a happy day for me. And I remember it so plainly.

Then just at the end of the school term, mama returned and sent for each of us. It was a happy reunion. In fact too happy. It seemed as though I had been gone for years. The only sadness now was that mama had returned to us, not better as we had expected, but worse. She could not be cured. So here we were all home again but not the first idea of how to manage. My aunt and uncle took Bianca with them North, so that there was no one to manage the house affairs. So the home was broken up once more. Louis went with my Aunt and Uncle and Bianca to the farm. Joseph went to Canada with my aunt. And I, fourteen the Fourth of July, stayed at home with mama and played the mistress. For nearly two months, I was mistress, nurse, and child of the house. I managed all the affairs in short took all the responsibility of the management of the household upon my young shoulders, for even then mama considered me a mere child. I also nursed mama in her illness, doing her wishes and trying to supply her needs as best I could. It was very hard for me to manage for I had never had the least of such an experience as this.

So though things went hard and slow. Still the days rolled on and brought more events. One of these being the days that my little brother was taken away. An uncle, mama's brother, whom she had not seen since girlhood had met her while she was in Canada. He became fascinated to Francis, and Francis liked him. He, having no children and having ample means to support a family, finally succeeded in persuading my mother to consent to the adoption of my brother, my little Favorite. I had not seen him since he had left so that made it harder to bear the day that the papers were all signed and after which Francis was gone. Though uncle promised mama to keep the child in correspondence with us and allow him to visit us once a year, still we have not seen nor heard of him but once.

Not many weeks after this saddest of all our days came. The nearest and dearest and best one to us was torn from those who needed her so much. Fortunately my aunt happened to stay at our place all night the night that she died. She was prepared for death the day before. Having administered the Last Sacraments to her, the priest spent some time with her consoling her and telling her of the glories that were to be hers so soon. But although he knew it was to be so soon we little dreamed that she was to leave us so soon. It all happened that next morning at three o'clock. The imprint is indelible on my mind. It was terrible. Me, all alone, ever after. The one who had been my confidant, whom I had told all my childish secrets, had confided my good and bad thoughts to her, and whom in return consoled and advised me, was now gone. Torn from us all. It seemed cruel. It still seems cruel. But God Almighty is the wisest and most Just, and he has done it for some good.

Then came the few days of excitement and hurrying. People talking and making further arrangements. Relations coming and going. The children were all home, but Francis. What a different reunion from the last one. This was sad. Bianca was afflicted by a disease which settled in her spine and from which she still suffers. But she was then only one year old and so helpless. Mama died on the Fourteenth of August in the year of nineteen hundred seven. Francis was three, Joseph was eight, Louis was thirteen and I fourteen. All so young to be left without parents and home. To be thrust into the world without their guidance. Three days later, the last respects were paid to the lifeless form of the dear one, who had done so much good in this world and who now lay like a broken lilly, still in full bloom. Yes, there she layed in a bed of flowers, but still the fairest among them all. My heart was broken as I looked down upon her and kissed the cold snowy white brow and hands for the last time. The rough men came forward and carried her away from us. Then we were all hurried away to the funeral.

After her remains were reverently placed in the ground and prayers were said we were taken back to the carriage and driven home. The weather was at its worst. It rained and the roads were muddy and dark sultry clouds draped from the sky. But even the weather at its worst was not near so gloomy as our thoughts and moods.

When we returned to the house most of the people were gone and the house seemed so lonesome and dark. The home that had always been so bright and cheerful. Those were awful hours that were spent in the house after that. A short time later, the will was read. It named that we were to be provided for according to the amount left us. An executor Mr. Wilson was appointed over the estate, and a guardian, my uncle, was placed over the money. A few particular articles were left to each of us. So after that was settled many more people went away. The next day we were all to leave. Arrangements were made to live with my father's sister. She had no children and offered me a good home. Louis went with another of his sisters and Joseph went with mama's sister, Bianca still staying with her other sister. At the beginning of the school term we all resumed our studies and I took resumed music lessons from a Professor. Everything went on rather smoothly as everyone was good and kind to us. I was now growing like a weed and developing into a young lady.


The story ends here.