I remember Grandpa Charlie telling the story of how when he was about to be punished for misbehaving that he would ask his mother (Bridget Elizabeth Chambers Sherlock), “Are you going to punish your only living child?” Now, I thought that was rather strange but then again Grandpa Charlie was the family’s originator of the 2% rule (stories only needed to be 2% true – yeah, that legend has carried on even until today).
I started researching Charles Sherlock and his mother Bridget Elizabeth Chambers and his father Edward Thomas Sherlock in the 1900 US Census. Since Charles was born on July 9th of that year, he wouldn’t appear in the census. I did find both Bridget (although, she was listed under the name Elizabeth B, probably due to the fact that Edward also had a sister named Bridget) and Edward Sherlock, as well as their child, Edmund, who was 1 years old. In the 1900 census, one of the questions that was posed was “You are the mother of how many children?” Bridget answered, “2 children”. When asked, “what is the number of children living now”, she answered, “One.” Well, a look into the old family bible lists “, Edward and Thomas” as siblings of Charles. Further research showed that Edmund Bernard Sherlock and Thomas Gordon Sherlock were twins and were born in November 1897. Luckily, I found the death certificate for Thomas Gordon Sherlock, which showed that he died before his first birthday on Oct. 17, 1898 from meningitis with dysentery as a contributing cause for his death.
Then Grandpa Charlie was born on July 9, 1900. Grandpa’s father Edward Thomas Sherlock died on December 9, 1901 when Grandpa was only 17 months old. His death certificate says he died of phthisis (which is a word that means tuberculosis). According to his death certificate, he had this disease for 6 months. It also said that catarrh of the stomach was a contributing cause of death. Edward was a butcher and the family lore was that he caught the disease through his work, but we will never know exactly how he caught this disease.
In 1905, when Grandpa Charlie was about 5 years old, his mother Bridget (I’m calling her by that name since that is what he called her by) braved the open seas and took her two sons to Ireland, probably to visit her homeland and family but also to bring her mother back with her to America. Grandpa Charlie’s maternal grandfather Thomas Chambers died in 1889.
Can you imagine at the age of 5 years old (kindergarten age in our time) spending 6 weeks each way on a ship on the rough seas (and we are not talking about cruise ship here)? So, Ann Kilroy Chambers (grandmother to Grandpa Charlie) came back to Chicago and lived with them until her death on February 2, 1908. The cause of her death is listed as gastritis and a contributing cause was debility from starving because of the gastritis.
I am thinking I need to stop here with all this cheerful news and continue on with this story in the next post, but just imagine this early childhood of Charlie Sherlock and how this would affect him for the rest of his life!