Monday, February 10, 2014

52 Ancestors- #6 Leslie Dony Mapes

This week's post represents the first of my uncles whom I never had a chance to know, as they died young and were denied a life full of promise.

Leslie Dony Mapes

Leslie Dony Mapes was born in Forestville on 10 September 1895, to John and Josephine (Fittshur) Mapes. His parents were already past the bloom of youth when they married the year before, so were not young parents. He was a beautiful, golden-haired little boy who must have been the light of his parents' lives. 
Leslie's entry in his mother's autograph book, age 7

Leslie was 4 1/2 years old when his little sister Eva was born, and they were best of friends. From what my grandmother told me, he was her playmate and protector. 

"I remember we had chairs that had the slats going cross-ways. I had stuck my head through one and it went through so nice and easy like that, that I was going to go behind it and crawl into it through the back and sit on the chair...and I got stuck! Leslie run for a hatchet or something- he was going to get me out of there, but I worked and got out." 
And another:  "Was a blind man stayed at our Dad used to take anybody in like that. He stayed there for a few days, and my brother, Lesley used to lead him around, all over. So after he left, then he was going to play blind and I was to lead him. We was going to go to my Grandma's across the road.
And I pulled him, and I ducked under the wire fence and pulled him right into it. He opened his eyes in time. He could have cut his throat!"

School Days

Leslie & friend Arthur Stevens

When Leslie was ten, the Mapes family left the village of Forestville and moved up the peninsula to Juddville. Leslie attended the Juddville school. "He was known as an honest, bright boy, with an upright Christian character. He was loved and respected by all who knew him." 

Following is a story Leslie wrote for a school assignment at age 9:


Leslie's Last Days

In Leslie's later youth, he developed Tuberculosis of the bone in his leg. It gradually worsened to the point that the only solution to save his life was to have his leg amputated. In about 1912 Leslie rode the train to Chicago to have the operation. His family could not afford the price of another ticket, so he made the trip alone. He came through the surgery, and a night nurse wrote a letter to his parents to let them know the outcome:

Unfortunately, Leslie lost his battle for life when he died a year later, at the age of 17.

I have often wondered what my Great-uncle Lesley would have been like. Would my grandmother's life have been different had her big brother lived?
There is no way to know that now, but I am happy to have told his story.

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