The wife waited in vain for her husband to come home to be with her during the last stage of her pregnancy. She never did know what happened to him. Her pregnancy ended prematurely, without warning as is often the case when twins are born. She was not far from help but she was unable to go to any of her neighbors for assistance.
She died and the twins died with her and they were not discovered for several days afterwards. If the neighbors had but known she would not have been alone, in fact just two miles away was Mrs. Sveinbjornson who was a trained midwife and had she known she more than likely could have saved her. When she was finally discovered the police were called and they found the bodies in such an advanced state of decomposition that they had to be buried right there.
The police went up to Sveinbjornson’s who was the closet neighbor to get some help. He and his brother-in-law, Billy Goodman, whom I mentioned in a previous chapter helped dig the grave.
They made a little fence around it and put up a cross and it stands to this day. Thanks to Henry Kemtrup the grave still has care. It was quite some time before the two events were tied together and the facts became evident. We read about such tragedies happening but never expect them to occur practically on our own doorstep.
This young couple and their twins never had an opportunity to enjoy the greatest half century of all time. Neither did they have to go through two great wars and the greatest political upheaval in all history. I sometimes wonder who are the lucky ones.
It was about this same time that Charley Monteith and his wife were out breaking a patch of land with a walking plow. Mrs. Monteith was holding the plow handles and Charley was driving the horses. The plow hit an obstruction, more than likely a root and went sideways, hitting Mrs. Monteith on the thigh and causing a compound fracture.
Now a compound fracture of the thigh is a tragic event under the best of circumstances, but under the primitive conditions prevailing at that time, the nonexistent roads and the lack of proper transportation, it was well-nigh tragic. Sveinbjornson’s were the closest neighbors and Charley went to Mrs. Sveinbjornson for help.
As I mentioned before Mrs. Sveinbjornson was a graduate midwife as well as a bonesetter. I guess you call them orthopedic surgeons now and on top of that even though she could hardly speak or understand a word of English she was blessed with lots of natural savvy and an unlimited amount of intestinal fortitude and never lost her head or got excited about anything.
All the equipment she had was a bottle of morphine tablets that Dr. Richard Parsons of Red Deer had given her to use in case of emergencies, a bottle of Lysol for disinfectant, some bed sheets torn in strips to hold the splint in place and a wire stretcher to stretch the leg so that the bone could be set.
She completed the operation and made Mrs. Monteith as comfortable as she could on a bunk bed with thin boards for springs and hay for a mattress.
Mrs. Monteith came along like a house on fire. In six weeks she was hobbling around on a pair of homemade crutches. In three months she could navigate with two canes. In six months she got along with one cane and when she died at the age of 84 she had not limped for fifteen years.
Banner photo credit: Central Alberta Historical Society