52 Ancestors 2014, ancestor story

Ancestor Story – David Anthony Costello – 52 Ancestors

Mary Young Costello, April 1988 in front of her home on Regal in Spokane, WAMary Brown Young Costello, photo taken April 1988 in front of her home at N 7505 Regal in Spokane, Washington.

Mary is my great grandmother.  She lived to be a spunky 94 year old lady.  She spent the last several years of her life in a Nursing Home.  I remember visiting her many times over the years.  Those visits often spurred conversation about her life as we drove to and from the Nursing Home.  Among the few facts I recall my mom sharing was a sad story about Mary’s pregnancies.

The way my mom told it, Mary had 13 pregnancies.  The first pregnancy ended with a very premature birth as the result of a fall.  Mary had been hauling water and fell.  The baby did not live.  It was believed that this first pregnancy, at the tender age of 16, ending prematurely caused her to have all of her babies very early.  From the stories my mom shared I had been under the impression that all but three of her pregnancies ended in miscarriage.  The term miscarriage is what I had heard.

While on my recent trip to Spokane, my great aunt Barbara mentioned Mary’s pregnancies.  She clarified that Mary had 10 pregnancies.  She also used the term miscarriage.  But then went on to mention that David had been especially hard on Mary.


Hold the phone.  There was a child with a name that I did not previously know about?

Well, this caused me to question the application of the term miscarriage and I did some digging.  I found the following death record:

Screen shot 2014-03-28 at 2.59.32 PM

Along with two other death records for male children with no first names.  This record lists Mary’s name as Marie but everything else lines up with what I know.  Mary didn’t just have a bunch of miscarriages, she had at least three children born alive who died in infancy.  Two died within days of birth and David within his first year.

All of Mary’s children were born far too early.  The three children that lived into adulthood were all about 3 lbs. at birth, born in the 7th month of pregnancy.  They were so fragile they were baptized in the hospital right after they were born.

After learning more details about this difficult part of Mary’s life I feel a greater connection to her.  My first baby was born during my 6th month of pregnancy.  He weighed 2 lbs. 8 1/2 oz and spent 51 days in the NICU.  My second baby was born 10 days before his due date after 12 weeks of total bedrest.  My third baby was born 5 weeks early and spent 10 days in the NICU.  Each one of my babies is such a miracle to me and they all required medical assistance to help them survive and/or arrive safely.  Mary didn’t have the same medical care available to her.  I imagine that during my pregnancies she was grateful that I didn’t have to suffer the death of my babies like she had.  My heart breaks for her.  And my heart is full of love for her in a new way.  Now that I know more about her story, I feel bonded to her in a way I never have before.

And now I know about David.


I know that he lived.  I know that he was loved.  I know that his death was very painful for Mary.

And now he is part of Mary’s family group record.  His life is now recorded in my tree.  I will not forget him.

I know that she didn’t.

David Anthony Costello – born 1930 or 1931 , died 16 February 1931.


I plan to find more records about David, his two unnamed brothers and the three children I already knew about.  I hope to learn even more about this family as I continue researching.

8 thoughts on “Ancestor Story – David Anthony Costello – 52 Ancestors”

  1. You’re fortunate to have a few relatives of the age where they can help you with this part of your family. My grandmother had four children, my mother being the oldest born in 1924 at home. Next was my uncle born in 1926, then 2 aunts born in 1934 and 1936 respectively and again, all at home. I’ve always been suspicious that there may have been one or more pregnancies between 1926 and 1934 but no evidence or records and no one to ask! My mother and her mother before her had the position of “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

    1. That is frustrating when you have questions that can’t be answered. I think your suspicion is very warranted. I feel very fortunate to be working on this now while I still have older relatives to help bridge the gap.

  2. Her face displays a lot of “attitude”.She looks like she was a gutsy, gritty type of person. And I’m also sure you’ve inherited some of those genes. Go get ’em (her kids), girl!

  3. The loss of a child is always a cause for sadness. The beautiful thing with writing a family history is that their discovery enables the existence of their lives to be validated. And the collecting of family stories or firm facts about the child goes some way to memorialize them for future generations.

Leave a Reply