By Sheila Benedict,

Contributing Writer

This month’s column was to be filled with gift-giving suggestions for the ardent genealogist. However, it is hard to write about gifts and the prospect of Thanksgiving and Christmas when our small valley is struck by an impossible tragedy.

I cannot imagine the shock on the face of a person doing a future genealogical study when a grave marker is discovered for a young mother, an infant, and a toddler all dying on the same date. 

We research in cemeteries all the time, we go on the FindAGrave website, Billion Graves, individual cemeteries and funeral homes here and everywhere. We look at databases on or, and we seek out burials of our brave military who fought in current and past wars.

However, when seeing something like that, regardless the time period, it has to be heart-breaking for relatives current and distant. In this small valley, regardless of the relationship, everyone is affected by this tragedy.

Therefore, this column, this month, is dedicated to the relatives of the deceased, especially the father of the infants and husband of the mother, but also to the fire, police, medical staff, and all the others who had to work on an unimaginable tragedy.

Yes, other accidents and fatalities have occurred and we are always sad for the people involved and most, if not all, could have been avoided. This one is no different and unfortunately may well be considered not only unavoidable but criminal.

The toddler should be up and running, sometimes to the exasperation of the young parents; the baby should be hungry for the bottle or the breast; and their mom and dad should be planning their future. No young father, parents, and grandparents should be working on the genealogy of babies who have died.

This Thanksgiving, as with those in the past, there will be four generations of my family sharing turkey and trimmings. Some were born and raised in this valley, some raised in this valley, and some just love it here.

Therefore, this Thanksgiving, when all our families gather and a prayer might be said, be sure to remember Max, Vanessa, Luc, and Des in your prayers and hope you never find a gravestone in your family, distant or current, that lists babies who have died in a horrific way.

Sheila Benedict is a professional forensic and family genealogist. Send questions for her to so they can be answered in future issues.