Grandma had a little sister, Elizabeth Janco, perhaps pronounced Jansgo where she was born in the part of the Kingdom of Austria-Hungary later known as Yugoslavia. Grandma loved her baby sister, and Elizabeth followed big sister Susie everywhere. One day they were outside playing, when little Elizabeth stepped on a thorn; a thorn from a locust tree. Not a big deal, right? It’s a little painful, but…
Have you even seen a thorn from a locust tree? These can be quite long and sharp. Here is an illustration of a twig from a honey locust.
In addition to the immediate pain, there were other dangers—the danger of infection. This was the first decade of the 1900s. The tetanus vaccine had not been developed. That didn’t happen until the 1920s, and even then, it was not terribly effective. There was no neosporin to put on the wound, and no antibiotics to be given when the infection started. Penicillin was not discovered until 1928! I think we live in a world where vaccines and antibiotics are so readily available, we sometimes forget just how important they are!
But that was not the case for Elizabeth. Consequently, there was little to be done for her except to clean the wound and hope for the best. Unfortunately, little Elizabeth did develop an infection which Grandma referred to as ‘blood poisoning’. Sadly, Elizabeth sucumbed to the infection. Forever after, Grandma hated locust trees, cursing them whenever she saw one, and woe be it to the seedling that happened to sprout up in her yard!
While there was no happy ending for little Elizabeth, there was a bittersweet ending for Grandma. Shortly after the family came to America, her mother gave birth to another daughter—they named her Elizabeth! Grandma had another baby sister to love and protect.
To learn more about my 52 Ancestors in 2018 project, read my introductory blog post.