Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Death and Burial of Charles C. Gross

Initially I had a lot of difficulty finding a paper trail for Charles C. Gross. Ocassionally I look through the records of Cincinnati cemeteries to see if I can find any clues. I was shocked when I uncovered this record for Charles at Spring Grove Cemetery.

I don't know what shocked more more -- learning that my gg-grandfather died at the age of 37 or that the card listed his disease as "insanity."  Thus began a quest.

First of all, in light of his Civil War Penion Record and the information found in his patient record, I am convinced that his "insanity" was directly related to his physical illnesses.  He was clearly suffering from "Bright's Disease" from the time he signed up to be a soldier in the Civil War at the age of 18 or 19.  I've not been able to determine the "cause" of this disease, but the more I read about the conditions his regiment endured on the road to their first battle, the more I wonder if this was the "trigger" for his illness.  Secondly, a doctor friend of mine was with me when Charles' record from Longview Asylum arrived in the mail. As we read through it together, John said that it sounded like Charles had suffered a heat stroke (or something similar) while on the job as a baker.  As I have a paternal gg-grandfather (Britton Wainright) who died from heat stroke, it was not a big surprise to me that this can have a significant impact on someone. 

Since I now knew where Charles was buried, I headed over to Spring Grove Cemetery to try to find his grave.  I was hopeful that it would be "marked" because he was, after all, a Civil War veteran.

It soon became apparent that there was not going to be a marked grave.  The office personnel graciously agreed to find a couple of the groundskeepers to meet me in the section.  I learned that day that each grave has a number found below ground.  These two gentlemen patiently scanned the area with a metal detector and then dug a hole to see if we were in the right space. Eventually, we located it.

It made me sad to think that this man, who served his new country in the Civil War, fathered six or seven children, and started his own bakery in a new country and city could be the same man so unceremoniously  buried in a cemetery that is known for honoring Civil War veterans.  I am reminded once again that without him, there would be no me. It is my hope, that in some small way, this post will insure that his contribution is not forgotten.

How he must have suffered.  In the last post, the doctors described his condition this way: 
 His face is pale and very much puffed-up and so it is with his hands and feet.
As someone who has personally dealt with several illnesses, I am amazed at the number of times that I have had to catalog the lives and deaths of my ancestors who faced death when they were far too young.  They often died from diseases that are easily treated today.  They could have lived productive lives as I have been able to do.

Charles -- if you could only see your descendants now!  You have a reward beyond measure.


  1. We are indeed the beneficiaries of those sacrifices and challenging, even tragic lives. So thought provoking, Kathy.

  2. Would the cemetery allow you to have a marker placed? The VA might be able to help.

    Rebecca Williams


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