Remembering the babies who survived and those who didn’t

My family history activities have been focused recently on the Metsch family, ancestors of my Dutch grandmother. They were originally from Hessigheim, Germany, near Stuttgart.

My Dutch grandmother, who had some German ancestors
My Dutch grandmother, who had some German ancestors

In this season of remembrance and gratitude I was struck by the difficulties many of our ancestors had in bearing and raising children. One particular family particularly caught my attention: the couple were Johannes Metsch (born 1714) and Loysa Catharina Häußler (born 1720).

According to the German records they had a total of ten children, and only three survived to adulthood! (And, yes, I am grateful that one — the last of the bunch, as it turns out — was my ancestor!)

Some of the children were apparently stillborn, because they were recorded with the given names “Anonyma” and “Anonymus.”

One girl lived for only twelve days.  One boy lived for fourteen months, and another died the day after his sixth birthday.

Times were tough for babies back in the 18th century, and in more modern times, as well. Both Dick and I had siblings that were stillborn; his was an older sister (Susie) and mine was a younger brother (Teddy), who would have been 68 years old this November 14. What sort of people would they have been if they had survived, and how would their presence in our families have changed our lives?

Things went better for the Metsch generation after Johannes and Loysa: their son Adam (who married a woman whose surname was also Metsch) had fifteen children, and all of them survived to adulthood! Their son Christian was my ancestor.