David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Retti Routsong's Broken Heart







From the time I was little, I remember being told the story of Alfaretta (Retti) Routsong. Retti was my maternal grandfather's aunt. She was born 31 August, 1865, the 7th child of Henry and Clarinda Swadner Routsong. She was one of three girls, just two years older than my great grandmother, Elizabeth, or Libby, as she was called. For most of my life, all I knew of Retti was the family lore that she had "died of a broken heart" after she was "jilted" by the man she loved. As a young girl, I was always fascinated by the thought that someone could actually die from the grief sustained from such an event. However, other than the knowlege of that story, I knew little else about Retti. After the death of my great aunt Grace, my grandfather's younger sister, we were given a box of old family photographs that had been in her possession. Within the box, we found many pictures of my great grandmother and some of my grandfather, but we also found a picture of a beautiful young woman, who, by process of elimination, we discovered was Retti. I was excited to actually see the face of the woman of whom I had heard about. This, and the broken heart story remained all I knew of Retti until my family research began in earnest about 6 years ago. One of the first resources I discovered in my search regarding the Routsong family was a book written by John P. Doan and M. Marjorie Waidner, entitled "From Rauenzahner to Routson; A Family on the Move", (Published by Picton Press). It was truly one of the most thoroughly researched and comprehensive books about the genealogical history of a family that I have ever read. The source citations are extremely thorough, and the information found about my particular branch of the Routsong family was almost perfect. I turned immediately to Retti's name in the book to see to what they had attributed her death. According to Doan and Waidner, "Alfaretta died in Van Buren Township on May 14, 1887, age 21-8-14 of consumption. Sadly, just three months earlier a Montgomery County marriage license which had been issued February 19, 1887 to George O. Martin, was not returned" So, the official cause of her death was consumption, but the sentence following the diagnosis told me that the family lore may not have been completely incorrect. Just three months before her death, an issued marriage license had not been returned. If the grief from her rejection did not directly cause Retti's death, it certainly may have contributed to the fact that she was not able to fight the battle with the disease. Did she simply lose the will to live? When I read those words and saw the name George O. Martin, I wondered who he was and what happened to cause the marriage to not take place. I will probably never know the answer. Retti was buried in the cemetery of David's Reformed Church cemetery, now David's Cemetery. She lies next to the gravesite of her parents and very near the gravesites of her grandparents. Regardless of what actually caused her death; disease or broken heart, Retti's story is still one of the saddest I have ever known.

3 comments:

  1. I loved this story! Retti was sure a beautiful young woman wasn't she. I psoted a story recently about discovering the cause of deaths of 2 of my husband's grandaunts, who also each died at age 21 of Tuberculosis. One was unmarried like Retti and the other was a mother of a 5 yr old and 1 year old. So sad to read of those losses to the family. Thank you for posting such a beautiful story!

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  2. Thank you for your kinds words, Becky!

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  3. Stories like this one are what make genealogy so interesting to me.

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