Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wistful Wednesday: Early 1900’s

My Mothers Father ( My Grandfather) Albert had an older brother.  His name was Freddie.

Freddie,Albert Drewes (2)

Freddie (left) was born in 1901 and Albert (right) in 1903. This photo was most likely taken in 1905 or 1906.

In this photo Freddie was breeched but my Grandfather was not.   Breeching is when a boy child got his first pair of pants..or breeches..I say britches.  Most boys were breeched around the age of five.  Britches had difficult openings (buttons) so a small boy would have to become really good with buttons so he wouldn’t have any potty accidents.

My Grandfather was wearing a skirt.  Skirts and dresses were very acceptable “childrens” clothing back then..dresses were not male or female..they were simply children's clothing.  Dresses were very practical for children because it was much easier to change their diapers. Clothing closures were either buttons or pins.  Brothers and sisters often wore the same dresses as hand me downs. Sometimes boys wore more chunky belts and trims..they often had long locks of hair that were cut when they made the transition from babyhood to boyhood.  To make that transition you had to be able to do the buttons in your britches.

Here they are both breeched and wearing knee pants and socks that went up past their knees.

Freddie, Albert Drewes#2 (3)

This is the last photo that we have of Freddie. He died September 29, 1911 from Scarlet Fever.  My Grandfather either survived the fever or didn’t get it…he became the oldest living child and I am sure he missed his older brother very much.

Freddie Drewes  Grandpas older brother

Freddie Drewes

Born Nov 27, 1901

Died September 29, 1911

“Dearest loved one we have laid thee in the peaceful graves embrace, but thy memory shall be cherished till we see thy heavenly face.”

My Grandfather remained an only child for over a year.  In October of 1912 he welcomed his baby brother Walter.

I was curious to find out how many children died of Scarlet Fever.  It seems between 7 and 10 percent of all the cases ended in death.  Somewhere between 300 and 500 people per 100,000 got it..once you had it you were immune.  It was very contagious.  It is the same germ family that we are familiar with today as Strep Throat:(

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  1. You are lucky to have these precious photos and the history behind them.

  2. My dad had the long pipe curls until he breached out. We ATV past a very old cemetery and discovered there is a very high percentage of children dying around 1911-12. I'm betting that was the cause.

  3. So sad that many children never had a chance to grow up. This was very interesting, Connie, and I didn't know that scarlet fever and strep are the same thing. I suspect that if germs continue to get resistant to antibiotics, we might be back in the same boat, losing children to it. I sure hope not.

  4. We've come such a long way on such diseases. Many children and adults surcomed to many such plagues. It's so sad.

    I so enjoyed seein' those old pic of your blood lines and the history of the britches. 'So interesting sweetie.

    God bless ya and have yourself a glorious day!

  5. What an amazing shot - makes sense for kids to wear skirts until they were potty trained.

    My mum had scarlet fever and was put in quarantine for about three months with almost no contact with the outside world.

    When my son got scarlet fever a couple of years ago, he was very ill - but thank goodness for antibiotics! However, he did manage to give me tonsillitis and I too was sick.

  6. Interesting post. How tragic to lose a child/brother - but that happened so much more frequently without the medical interventions we have now.
    I remember that my mother wouldn't take us to public places in the summer for fear of being exposed to polio.

  7. That is a sad story but I have to tell you I love the short pants ;) Great photographs.

  8. Absolutely fascinating...I always wondered why they wore dresses but that makes so much sense. Thank God at my age I don't have buttons on my pants or I'd never make it!LOL!
    So sad about your Grandfather's brother, that must have been very hard on him. This was so informative...thank you for sharing.

  9. Back around the Civil War era, entire families (of children) were wiped by scarlet fever. I've read an account of Frederickburg, VA that lost about 35% of ALL its children due to it in 1861.

    By 1880, teh effects of the disease were actually on the decline - There was an epidemic in 1910-1911 that resulted in roughly 12 deaths per 100,000 people (and most them were children).

    More on the horrible statistics can be found here -

  10. I believe that families lost many children during that outbreak...

  11. Until antibiotics and vaccines became wide spread we had epidemics of various diseases that killed many. That's why they're so worried about a deadly epidemic where we have no antibiotics or vaccines that will help. The sick, elderly, and the children often are hit the hardest. It wasn't that long ago that so many children were crippled from polio. Here it was very personal in your family. Glad you have these pictures. :)

  12. That is an interesting grave stone. My late wife's father lost a brother to chicken pox at a very young age and it affected the survivor forever. He would go into a panic when he became sick himself or if any of his other family members became sick. We wouldn't tell him when his grand kids were sick as it would make him worry so much.

  13. Some times I am sad that people "dress down" now days. I was watching a documentary on the Depression - and was shocked to see all these men lined for food at a food kitchen wearing suits.

    That doesn't happen these days.

  14. Actually Scarlet Fever is still around my Niece got it 4 years ago she was 20 it seemed to have some different symptoms to Strep throat thats what we though it was at first we were very amazed and surprized at that ! Awesome photos.Back in thoses days of the first photo sadly lots of children passed do to illnesses . I have a little story that goes with the boys in the skirts lol When I was 6 years old I was a tomboy still are and when my family and I went to England to visit relatives , we were walking the streets of London and a man passed and said to my mum and dad what a nice looking little boy even though I had long hair. It was because I was wearing pants and not a dress or skirt !Back then in England most girls wore dresses and skirts. Hope you have a wonderful day !

  15. Your old family photos are a really wonderful way to share history with us! Thanks for sharing this.

  16. What precious photographs. I treasure old photographs and stories about our family long ago. So many of my aunts and uncles lost their children to various diseases back then.

    I recall having scarlet fever myself and having the house "posted" for quarantine because of it.

  17. You've done your research on this. Rather interesting on boys wearing skirts .
    It's not very long ago that many children died from scarlet fever. The prevention was rather simple.

  18. I didn't know that info about "children's clothes" being unisex until the boys were old enough for britches. That is really interesting. And the reasoning for it all makes a lot of sense.
    Whenever I read biographies of people born over a century ago and we read of the deaths of children, my heart breaks for the mothers. Even though the instances were not uncommon, losing your child is not how life should go.

  19. That was interesting, although sad about such an early death. I've always thought that sleepers or something similar on youngsters wearing diapers were much better at holding the diaper in place than the long gowns that babies used to wear.

  20. My father had scarlett fever. it was said to have damaged his heart. They were told he would not live past age 30. He defied the odds and lived to a ripe old 88.

  21. My mom talked about the scarlet fever epidemic. I may have mentioned about reading through genealogy and finding that my great grandfather lost his wife and all his children -- and then married my great grandmother and had a whole new family -- of which I am the descendant.

  22. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures and your story. I had an uncle Walter and an Uncle Freddie too. My father was born in October of 1912 so I really was thrilled reading this.

  23. I have seen pictures of my Dad wearing a long white childrens' dress when he was about a year old. A lot of old pictures show boys in skirts...they were practical for changing or a child helping him/herself when they learned to go potty.
    Many young children died of whooping cough and diptheria as well as scarlet fever. Before antibiotics there was no way to treat it except to hope the child lasted it out by having high fever to kill the bacteria. or viruses.
    My dad survived a burst and infected appendix in about 1920. He was in a hosptial in Fergus Falls for a whole winter recovering slowly without any medicine to help. They manually drained the infection; that was all they could do and then PRAY.


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie