52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 19: Mother’s Day
Prompt: Sunday was Mother’s Day in the US. This week, let’s take a look at the mothers you’re researching. (They do make up half of your family tree, after all!)
I guess you could call this a mother-daughter-daughter story.
My husband’s great-grandmother Tziporah “Sarah”/”Sela” Fox/Fuchs Silverman (1871-1943) and great-grandfather Nathan Silverman (1873-1928) emigrated from what is now Ukraine shortly after their first child was born. They settled and raised a family in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Besides their first-born, daughter Susie Theresa Silverman (1894-1987), three more daughters and one son were born to the couple, the last being Sarah Frances Silverman (1904-2001)
And then…fourteen years later–along came another daughter, Ruth Myrtle “Ruthie” Silverman (1918-2010) on September 20, 1918.
Almost exactly a year before Ruthie’s arrival, Tziporah and Nathan’s oldest child, Susie, had married–at the age of twenty-three–Maurice D. Seeche (1894-1961). At the time of her baby sister’s arrival, Susie herself was pregnant with her first child.
On November 15, 1918, Sherman Seeche (1918-2008) was born to Maurice and Susie Seeche in Lawrence, Massachusetts–about two months after Susie’s own mother had given birth—at age forty-seven–to Ruthie.
Besides baby Ruthie, Susie’s other siblings were all still living at home with Tziporah and Nathan. Perhaps the arrival of the infant left Tziporah feeling overwhelmed.
But, for whatever reason, it is said that Susie not only nursed her newborn son Sherman but she also nursed Ruthie: her baby sister!
If true, this is not that different than the employment of a “wet nurse”, a common practice prior to the availability of bottles in the nineteenth century and then formula in the twentieth century. And yet, even in this supposedly more enlightened age in which mothers are discouraged from feeding infants formula and admonished that “breast is best,” as recently as 2007 a prominent breastfeeding advocacy group avoided endorsing feeding one’s infant with another mother’s breast milk:
“There are very strong reservations against it, both medically and psychologically. There are potential hazards. The biggest risk is that of infection being passed from the mother to the child. Breast-milk is a living substance expressly designed by your body for your baby, not someone else’s.”Anna Burbridge, La Leche League spokeswoman
But stay tuned, suggests Linda Lowen, the author of the article from which the above quote was taken:
Despite these risks, it’s not surprising that in this age of ride-sharing and spare-room sharing, ‘milk sharing’ is a phenomenon that some families are now trying. A Facebook group and milk-sharing sites have appeared, and according to a Netmums.com piece from 2016, the practice is on the rise. Their 2016 informal poll found that one in 25 women had shared their milk, and 5% of families had used milk from the more regulated source of a milk bank. As the taboo slowly lifts, this age-old practice may just make a real comeback.”
I assume it is the familial relationship of Susie and Ruthie that is, for most living members of the family, the most cringe-worthy aspect of this Spector family legend.
There may not be any validity to the story, but trust me: far stranger Spector family stories have proven to be true!
Sherman Seeche died in 2008 at the age of ninety.
Survivors mentioned in his death notice included his “aunt Ruth [Silverman] Katz”…also ninety years of age.