I’ll admit to getting sidetracked from time to time with an intriguing entry in a burial register—hard to resist digging a little further into some of the stories. But sometimes the information is almost too easy to find.
A burial register page for Mount Pleasant Cemetery for January 1911 showed the names of Laura S. Brooks, aged 36, and three young Brooks boys aged 2, 3 and 5 years. All four died on January 21 of suffocation. I had to know more about this sad story.
We’re very lucky to have the two most prominent Toronto newspapers available online through the Toronto Public Library. The Toronto Star and the Globe are also available through many other Canadian public and university libraries.
Page 8 of the Globe for Monday, January 23, 1911, explained that Mrs. Brooks and her three sons suffocated when their home at 435 Indian Road caught fire. The unique house had a concrete exterior, but the inside was finished with oiled Georgia pine. The story is told in great detail—including a lot of family information—but I’d recommend caution in relying on this early reporting. It is always a good idea to watch for later stories that add corrections. Other newspapers can add a different perspective, too.
But let’s look back to page 8 of the Globe. Remarkably, it includes the dramatic deaths of another five people who appear on the same Mount Pleasant Cemetery register page.
“Two Toronto Men Killed in the West” tells of the deaths of Samuel J. Hunt and Richard A. Chapman in a train wreck near Macoun, Saskatchewan on January 21.
“Injuries were Fatal” refers to “a young German” Izzo Luise who was struck by a streetcar at Bloor and McCaul on January 21. (The register lists him as Sizzo Linse.)
“Dies after a Week: William Armitage Killed by Elevator Accident”. The incident took place at the A.R. Williams machine shop—which explains why the company purchased his burial plot. (The register lists him as Samuel Armitage.)
Page 8 also included the death notices. Of the thirteen notices, only one appears on our register page—Hattie Putnam, also known as Birdie, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Putman who died in the Saratoga Hospital on January 22.
This single page of the Globe has added a remarkable amount of complementary information to the register page—but you’ll have noticed some contradictions in names. Was he Sizzo or Izzo, or William or Sam?
By the way, the Globe tells us the Brooks family were to be buried at St. James Cemetery. We found them in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery register—which notes that they were all moved to Forest Lawn in 1912!