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Photograph Showcase: Three Guardian Angels

 

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Great Grandmas – Mary Jo Shumway, Deane Alice Duval, & Charlotte Whitesides

 

That wee little chap up there is my amazing oldest.  A few months after he was finally home from the NICU, we had a family gathering all about him in Lewiston, Idaho.  Those lovely ladies with him are three of his great-grandmothers who traveled from Star Valley, Wyoming, Kaysville, Utah, & Spokane, Washington to join us that day.

Now that boy of mine is nearly twenty and serving an LDS mission in South Carolina.  He has been gone for 20 months & 2 days.  He will be home this August.

Four months after my son left, Grandma Mary Jo passed peacefully in a nursing home from Alzheimer’s.  Nine months after that, Grandma Deane passed peacefully at home from Leukemia.  And then on Tuesday, Grandma Charlotte passed peacefully in a care center from Liver Cancer.

And so, that amazing boy of mine has gained three guardian angels who have loved him his whole life long.  I can’t think of three women I would trust more to watch over my boy.

 

 

Do you have a living grandparent?  If so, call them today.  If you are the living grandparent, reach out to your precious grandbabies today.  That link is so precious.  ❤️

 

 


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52 Ancestors – The Duval Triplets – Three Babies with Four Names

DUVAL, twins

Two of the Duval Triplets born to Leon Howard Duval & Annabel Freda Yock, 10 August 1932

 

The Birth & Death Story

 

Wednesday, the 10th of August 1932, triplets were born to Leon Howard Duval and Annabel Freda Yock in the new Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, Montana.1  This hospital opened in 19302 and the Duval babies were the first triplets3 to be born in that hospital.  All three babies were boys and were the third, fourth, and fifth sons born to Leon and Annabel.

Prior to the birth of the triplets, Leon and Annabel were living in Playwood, Washington where Leon was a harbor employee4.  Annabel traveled to Great Falls to stay with her mother-in-law, Alice Duval (my 2nd great-grandmother) at 708 3rd Avenue SW for the express purpose of giving birth to her children in Great Falls.5  She had arrived shortly before the children were born.

On that Wednesday morning, the first baby was born at 11:37 am and weighed 2 lbs. 10 1/2 oz.6  Baby number two was born at 12:07 pm and weighed 3 lbs. 1 1/2 oz.7  The last baby was born at 12:10 pm and weighed in at 3 lbs. 6 1/2 oz.8  A newspaper report claims that all three boys had blue eyes and that two of them had dark hair while the other was fair.9

It is interesting – and overwhelming – to note that Leon and Annabel’s other sons were just three and two years old at the time the triplets were born.10  This may explain why Annabel would travel such a great distance to give birth.  Her mother-in-law was not the only Duval family member living in Great Falls at the time.  All of Leon’s living siblings and their spouses were living in Great Falls in both 1931 and 1932 – Vera and Bill Hunter,11 12 Frank and Estelle – my great-grandparents,13 14 Dolores and Fred Cleveland,15 16 and Valmore who was 15 and 16 in 1931 and 1932.

Just two hours and twenty minutes after the final triplet was born, one of them passed away at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, 10 August 1932.17

On Thursday, 11 August 1932, another triplet died.  The final living triplet was reported to be doing well.18

Saturday, 13 August 1932, private funeral services were held for two of the Duval triplets at O’Connor Chapel and then the babies were buried in Highland Cemetery.19

 

Family Records

 

The birth and death of the triplets were recorded by my great-grandmother in numerous hand-typed family records as seen here:

 

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

 

Grandma Duval was inconsistent in her names for the triplets.  She used four names for three babies – James, Joseph, John, and Stanley John.

When I first began working with her records, there was not an online collection of Montana birth or death records I could use to verify and clarify her notes.  I was stuck with a bit of a mystery.

The two facts she consistently identified were that James died 10 August 1932, and that John died 11 August 1932.  I felt confident about adding dates, but I struggled to identify the correct names for each baby.  I wondered if Leon and Annabel would name one boy John and another Stanley John.  I was leaning toward James and Joseph being the correct names for the two triplets who did not live.

 

Records to the Rescue

 

The Montana Birth Index, 1870-1986 includes three Duval babies born in 1932 in Great Falls.  Two were listed simply as ‘Duval’ without first names, born 10 August 1932.20 21  And the third baby is actually my grandmother, Deane Alice Duval, born 27 June 1932.22

One triplet is missing from the birth index.

The Montana Death Index, 1907-2015 includes two Duval deaths in Cascade County in 1932.  John Duval who died 10 August 1932,23 and Joseph Duval who died 11 August 1932.24

So how does that compare to Grandma Duval’s notes?  She listed:

  • Stanley John Duval, born 10 August 1932 – correct – verified with other records not mentioned in this post.
  • James Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 10 August 1932 – there is no triplet named James, but these dates are correct for the triplet named John.
  • John Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 11 August 1932one of the triplets was named John Duval, but these are the dates for Joseph Duval.
  • Joseph Duval, born and died within 1 1/2 days of birth – correct

All in all, Grandma Duval didn’t do too bad.  She added an extra name in there and listed the wrong death date for John Duval.  But the important thing she did is create a record.  She gave me a starting place from which I could search for records to verify and clarify her record.  This is particularly important because the birth and death records in the indexes DO NOT list parent names.  I would not have stumbled upon them accidentally.  Her records pointed the way for me to correctly add John & Joseph to their family group.

I am still a bit surprised that Leon and Annabel named one triplet John and another Stanley John.  John is not a family name among the Duvals and it is not the name of Annabel’s father.  Because I do not have the birth record for Stanley John I suppose it is possible that his middle name was not given at birth but was added later.

Years ago, my own grandmother shared a story with me, one that I cannot possibly verify, about what led to the triplets’ early birth.  It is not a pleasant story.  I will simply state that based on that story and other tid-bits Grandma shared with me, it appears that Leon and Annabel had a rather tumultuous relationship.  That supposition seems to be backed up by the fact that Leon’s oldest son, who was 13 at the time of his father’s death, took the name of his step-father and went by Leon Revel for the remainder of his life.  Only his youngest sister did the same.

 

Details of an Unusual Photograph

 

Let’s have another look at that photograph from the beginning of this post, shall we?  I’ll make it a touch bigger.

DUVAL, twins

John & Joseph Duval, 13 August 1932, Highland Cemetery, Great Falls, Montana

 

This photograph has always fascinated me.  It’s terribly sad to see two small babies side by side in a casket but there is so much more in this picture.  Let’s break it down.

Two babies in one very small, open casket.  A large headstone when there are several visible graves with only placards.  The open hole that doesn’t look nearly deep enough with the shovel visible under the casket.  The old 2x4s supporting the casket.  The unkempt grounds. The car in the background that is so close to other graves.  The shadow of the head that is definitely a Duval head.  (Definitely may be too strong a word here, but I’m going with it anyway.  Heather, do you see it too?)  Is it Leon?  I think it looks more like my great-grandfather’s shadow.

I have two other photos in my collection of bodies in open caskets.  One is my granduncle Darrell Skeen Peterson, the other is my 2nd great-grandmother, Emma Esther Jerrain.  What makes this photo unique is that it is the only open casket photo in my collection that is at the gravesite.  Not just at the gravesite, but literally on top of the open grave.

 

Last Thoughts

 

My impression of Leon and Annabel colors my view of not only the birth, but also the deaths of John & Joseph.  I feel less sorrow than usual as I write about their early deaths.  I actually feel some relief for them.  That isn’t fair.  My usual tears for a mother who buried her babies did not flow as I typed.  I hope my impressions of Leon and Annabel are unjust and biased.  What I do know for certain is that John & Joseph’s lives were incredibly short, unfairly short.

Stanley went on to live a full life that unfortunately ended in his death in a house fire in 1991.  He was an army veteran who raised four daughters.  I have corresponded with one of those daughters.  I shared photographs with her.  She had never before seen a photo of her grandfather Leon.  She didn’t know anything about Leon.  He was her brick wall.  I helped her with that.  She is a lovely person and I am so glad to call her cousin.

Whatever prejudice I may hold for Leon & Annabel, in the end, they are part of my family.  I love my family.  All of them, warts and all.  I hope I have honored the memory of their triplets today.

 

 

 

Note – There are three interesting tid-bits I need to add.  1 – Annabel spells her name inconsistently as Annabel and Annabelle.  As in her own signature is seen spelled both ways.  2 – John Duval’s grave shows up in FindAGrave, but Joseph’s grave does not.  3 – The certificate numbers for the two ‘Duval’ birth records are G F 10413 and G F 10415.  I wonder if the missing record is G F 10414 and it somehow didn’t make it into the online index?

 

 

 


  1. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  2. LaPorte, Margaret, Columbus Hospital : One Hundred Years, (Seattle, Washington: Providence Archives, 1992), photo p. between pp. 23-24; PDF download, www.providence.org (https://www.providence.org/-/media/files/providence/about/history/columbus-hospital-one-hundred-yearsweb.pdf?la=en : accessed 21 Mar 2018). 
  3. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  4. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  5. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  6. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  7. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  8. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  9. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  10. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  11. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 101, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Alvera); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  12. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 91, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Elvera M); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  13. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 67, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  14. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 60, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  15. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 54, entry for Cleveland, Deleres Mrs.; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  16. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 48, entry for Cleveland, Fred D (Dolores); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  17. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  18. “Second of Triplets Dies at Hospital,” Great Falls Tribune, 12 August 1932, p. 2, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18016405/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  19. “Private Funeral Services to Be Held for Duval Infants,” Great Falls Tribune, 13 August 1932, p. 7, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015465/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  20. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10413; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  21. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10415; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  22. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Deane Alice Duval, 27 June 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10325; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  23. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for John Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  24. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Joseph Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana.