13 June 2013

Brothers United


"Plucky Veteran's Family," Boston Herald, 20 Jul 1947, p. 1,
cols. 4-6;  "Barnes Family Forum," Facebook
(www.facebook.com : posted 30 Aug 2012), citing
NewspaperArchive.com.
You may remember the story of little Stephen Barnes who was tragically killed by a trolley car on December 16th, 1947. The circumstances remain unclear to this day, but the pain caused in the family has been very real for over 65 years.

He left behind his three brothers, David, Robert, and William, and his parents, Russell Pierce Barnes and Margaret R. (Mumford) Barnes. Shortly after his death the brothers were sent to foster care and the parents split or drifted apart.

The three remaining boys never knew much about their family but thanks to an unusual family name, Israel Merritt Barnes (four of 'em!), and the wonders of internet searching, their children were able to reconnect with the Barnes family, including three half-siblings!

So it was that the ceremony described in my post of 12 October 2012 took place. The family gathered to erect a stone (inscribed with "Never Forgotten") on the site of Stephen's grave and to bring together what once was ripped apart by tragedy. Stephen's two older brothers had already passed away--Bobby in 2001, and David in 2007, and some of David's ashes were placed at Stephen's grave at the ceremony.

When Stephen's third brother, William, alias Hubcap (!), passed away in April of this year, his wife and son decided that they were going to bring his ashes from Texas back to Massachusetts to reunite him with his brothers. Yesterday, another small ceremony was performed, with Stephen's cousins and all three half-siblings, and we heard a little prayer of healing from William's eloquent son. Three of the brothers are in a sense back together, and children of the fourth were there to bear witness to the events.

Does it matter that their earthly remains have been gathered? Of course that depends on your own religious point of view, but I do know I witnessed incredible healing, and I so hope for my cousins that they can feel some peace. Yet there is still a lingering question: I know that all of us want to know what became of Margaret. She virtually disappeared afterwards, perhaps remarrying, perhaps just living quietly on her own. Though I've been able to trace her ancestry, I won't let this issue go until I find what became of her. 

1 comment:

Diane Florence Gravel said...

Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it with us!