Harrison township, Owen county



I was recently told a story of a family in the Harrison township area of Owen county. It was a story of just how a whole family can and did dissappear for all intents and purposes. It made me stop and think that although this was a particular family lineage that I was researching; there could well have been other families that this occurred with also. Thus explaining why we are frequently asking that question:

"How could they ALL just dissappear like that ?"

In the earlier days of the county, medical care was not as it is today. Most times when one person or family caught something-- so did the rest . There was no real prevention for it. Additionally and sadly, if there was a medical prevention, not many persons could afford it.

In the 1930-mid 1930 time frame, in addition to many other diseases, there was a case of diptheria. Not apparently, a rampant epidemic that was notable or recorded as the great flu epidemic of 1918. BUT DEADLY JUST THE SAME.

One family with the head of household named James McCullough who had married Alice O'Neal resided in the township in the area of the old Asher school. James was born in 1860 and Alice in 1865. They married in 1884. They were the parents of "originally" 11 children. I have four recorded, but only have names for two of them.

By the time the person relating this story to me had known James, he was an older man.

In this diptheria epidemic, 9 of the 11 children died from it. As it was apparently during the winter of the year and because the ground was too hard to be able to bury them at that time. They were laid out in various bedrooms/areas of the house awaiting a time that they could be buried.

I presume that there was no other alternative. I cannot even imagine going through something of that nature. Anyway...

The mother herself died in 1932 most likely from the same epidemic. So, you have a man who was married with 11 children, and then he looses all but 2 children.

As horrible as that is I find that I can learn from it.

I have searched various area cemeteries and found no burials for a mass amount of children, however, the mother is buried in the Mannan Cemetery-- so perhaps the children are also, but just unmarked.

But if you stop and think about it, only a boy named Arthur and a girl named Mary survived. The father himself died in 1941.

Essentially one whole ENTIRE family seemingly dissappeared from the face of the earth. Fortunately, this was only a residual lineage for me, but I was attempting to tie it all together. I cannot overlook the fact though that surely they were not the only family in all of Harrison township to be struck down with diptheria.

This makes me contemplate if perhaps other families that have "vanished" really left the area....

This is a story that never made the record books, and in thinking of it, one realizes that in the time frame between the census takings (10 years) a great amount indeed can happen within a family. In the case of the time frame from 1880-1900 that was a 20 year span with no census records. Someone could either be born, raised and married in that time or be born and died and nobody would be the wiser.

I have another family that had 9 children and they resided in the Paragon area. Of those nine children, four of them were lost. I KNOW for a fact that one died of diptheria and that there were two others who died within the same time frame so I must assume that it was also diptheria.

These children died:

November 5, 1894

October 1898


March 20, 1897

Just luck prevented the rest of the family from the disease. Had the others gotten it and died, well, for one thing I wouldn't be here...but another whole family could have been wiped out. Another of their children died in 1918, most likely from the flu epidemic. The father himself died in 1910.

So the next time you find that a whole family dissappeared, perhaps check the deaths/mortality indexes/ area diseases more carefully then we are in the habit of doing. It is quite possible that these persons never did "migrate somewhere" as many of us assume quite frequently.