Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whatever Happened to Hazel Vera Holbrook

This card has always given me such a laugh because of the message:
Dear Brother -  Wishing you a Happy Birthday and many more to come. Your sister (Hazel Vera)
(Wish I could see you just one minute. Maybe I wouldn't blister you.)

On a lark, I decided to search the name of Rexford E. Holbrook. I don't do this very often, because before you know it you're researching other people's genealogy and there's no end.  Interestingly enough, I found Hazel Vera before I found Rexford. Hazel was born in June, 1901, so she was 14 when she wrote this to her 7 year-old brother.  But what's so very tragic is that Hazel Vera died on September 28, 1915, only a month after writing this. I have no idea what happened, but I'm glad that Hazel's memory lives on through this card.

Rexford lived longer. I don't know when he died, but he did get married. He and Hazel are both buried in the North Volney Cemetery in Oswego County, New York. Here's the information posted on rootsweb:

1901   1915
Born:  June 3, 1901  Palermo, NY
Died:  September 28, 1915
Father:  Ephraim L. Holbrook
Mother:  Bertha Curtis
(Vital Records Fulton)

Update: For the sad details of what happened to Hazel Vera, see Chris' comment below.


  1. That is true of the research. It's quite interesting, but could easily become consuming.

  2. That's what always happens to me with my old postcards, too. Before I know it, I'm embroiled in someone's history, then bawling my eyes out if I find they came to a tragic end. Consequently, my new philosophy is, "it's better not to know."

  3. Isn't it sad to go in search of information and then hit such a sad wall? I did this with some photos I bought at an estate sale. I was so excited to find so much information about the family. When I'd gone to the sale I'd known nothing. By the time I was through that day I'd discovered that one of them had died tragically in a plane crash. I'd spent the day building their lives from scraps and then had it all come to an end.

  4. It's funny how it affected my view of the card. Previously, I thought it was lighthearted and the cows seemed relaxed and satisfied. Now it seems so tragic and the cows seem plodding, slow, and heavy. Such a spirited girl; I can hardly grasp the grief her death must have caused to her brother and the rest of her family.

  5. Wonderful post! Little did Hazel know when she mailed that postcard (it was as if she posted on Facebook) that today people all over the world would be reading her message and reconstructing the story of her life.

    I once found a book autographed by the author four days before his death. A newspaper clipping of the obituary was taped inside the book.

  6. I found that Hazel had just taken the Regents (New York's high school entrance exam) about a week before this postcard; then I found this:

    Oswego Daily Times, Monday Evening, October 4, 1915

    Hazel, 14 years old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ephraim Holbrook, died (last) Tuesday at two p.m. at Lee Memorial Hospital, Fulton, where she was operated upon the night previous for appendicitis. She had been ill about a week. A consultation of doctors was held Monday and she was taken to the hospital and operated upon. Besides her parents, she leaves a sister, Mrs. Herman Hollenbeck of Clifford, and a little brother Rexford.

    Hazel was a member of the North Volney Sunday school and was baptised at the church here by Rev. Mr. Williams a year and one day previous to her death. She was also an attendant of the North Volney school.

    The funeral services were held at the family home in Palermo Friday, October 1, at 2 p.m., Rev. Mr. Williams of Mt. Pleasant officiating. Burial was made in North Volney cemetery. Much sympathy is felt and expressed especially for Mrs. Holbrook who has lost her mother, her sister, and now this daughter, all in about six months.

  7. Wow, poignant! Bittersweet and yet, that postcard has given Hazel a bit of immortality on this plane.

  8. Wow, Chris...
    For some reason I had not seen your comment before. Thank you so much!



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