The years 1921 was one of deep heartache for Mort and Jennie Austin and their four sons.
Thursday, March 24, Dr. Smith arrived at the Austin home to take out Elizabeth’s tonsils. The operation took place on the family’s kitchen table.
Still perhaps recovering from the death of their son McKinley in France during World War I, one can imagine the deep sorrow of the family when the unthinkable happened—Elizabeth died from a “heart clot following an operation for tonsils and adenoids.”
Elizabeth, the only daughter of Mort and Jennie Austin, died four days before she turned 10. Mort Austin wrote down his thoughts.
Mort Austin’s Letter
March 24, 1921
Our only daughter died on the 24th day of March, 1921. My dear Elizabeth. I did not know how much we loved you until now. I hope that it will not be long before I meet you in Heaven. I know you are happy there and I hope through the goodness of God, in a few years to be with you. Father
Guenther and Vonderhost Deaths
The year 1921 was also a year of terrible sadness for Freida Meyer Guenther and Louise Vonderhorst.
Joseph Guenther, a butcher, had a meat market in Lackawaxen and Shohola where he worked with his friend Fritz Suessman.
On a foggy March morning as Joseph and his dog Spot crossed the railroad tracks to the Shohola Depot, they were struck by an Erie train. Joseph, 35, died about two weeks later as a result of his injuries. Spot also died.
Joseph’s wife Frieda was now a widow with five children: Freida, 11, Edith Vera, 10, Clinton Joseph, 7, Helen Katherine, 6, and Viola, 2.
Louise and Eric Vonderhorst were building a boarding house up above Washington Lake when Eric, still in his twenties, died of typhoid fever. Louise Vonderhorst would raise their children: Carl, 6, Walter, 3, and Elsie, 1; and run Lake View Inn for at least another twenty years.
Other letters of sympathy sent to Mort and Jennie
A. Gedeone, to Mr. and Mrs. Austin, Mountain Grove House
March 28, 1921
My dear Mr. and Mrs. Austin,
These are just a few words of sympathy for your loss. Yet we trust in a God who we know does all for the best. So trusting in the loving memory of our dear one, we think of her as a cherub in God’s home. With sincere and heartfelt sympathy, Anna Gedeone
W.M. Baumgartner, Madison, N.J., to Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Austin
March 31, 1921
My dear Brother and Sister in Christ,
I have learned from Mr. Ether of your very great sorrow. What a blow is yours, so sudden and scarcely expected! My heart goes out to you in sympathy and prayer.
I realize my human words are powerless to bring consolation; and yet I want you to know that I have not forgotten you and I am feeling for you in your grief and praying that the everlasting arms may be beneath you. Yours in deepest sympathy, William M. Baumgartner
The Collins family had been friends of the Austins since the mid-1800s when James and Isabella Collins and their children: Annie, Robert, and Thomas lived on Collins Road near to Mort’s folks, Henry and Mary Ann Austin. Thomas had died, but Robert, a Methodist pastor, continued to keep in touch.
Robert Collins, Madison, N.J., to Mort and Jennie Austin, Eldred
April 7, 1921
My dear Mort and Mrs. Austin,
We learned by telephone from your pastor of the sudden and unexpected death of your dear and only little daughter Elizabeth, while undergoing an operation for the removal of her tonsils. This was an unusual occurrence.
You surely have our deepest sympathy and prayers in this very sad bereavement. I know you both will greatly miss Elizabeth, but especially your wife, an only daughter, and in her youth. She must have been a great help and comfort to her mother in the home, and growing more necessary every day and more of a companion as well. How sad. But such is life often and its experiences with all its terrible losses and failures.
Our only consolation in such sorrows are the assurances of the word of the dear Lord, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth those who trust in him.”
“Cast thy burden on the Lord and he shall sustain thee, he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” These are words for us to think upon in such a great sorrow as yours. May they give your aching hearts relief and rest.
Cheer up amid the gloom. Lizzy is safe.
With best wishes, Sincerely yours, R.B. Collins