My Treasures Three: Sadness at the Death of a Child
It was not uncommon in the early years of the Hagenbuch family to experience the tragedy of the death of a child. Many families across the United States understood that it might be something they would endure. No loving father or mother could ever really accept such a sadness. In 1900 the percentage of child deaths compared to other deaths in the country was 30.4%. By 1922 the percentage had decreased to 19.8%. But, it was still too commonplace.
Clarence and Hannah “Sechler” Hagenbuch welcomed the birth of their fourth child, another boy, into their family on February 23, 1921. Lawrence Joseph Hagenbuch was born on that day joining his older brothers Charles, Homer, and Wilmer. But sadly, Lawrence would not reach the age of two.
He was baptized on November 9, 1922 at Oak Grove Lutheran Church, the Hagenbuch family church in Montour County, Pennsylvania. This was about the usual age that children were baptized. However, it is surmised that Lawrence might have already been showing signs of weakness and the baptism was done at this time in preparation for his death; for little Lawrence did die on Dec. 11, 1922. He is buried in the Oak Grove graveyard, his tiny stone sitting beside the stone of his parents who both died in 1967.
Lawrence’s mother, Hannah, had been a school teacher, a lover of books and flowers, and a poetess in her own right. In 1960 at Christmas time, she gave out to relatives a booklet with several poems that she wrote. The poems are cherished by her grandchildren and hopefully by others of future generations. One of the poems is entitled, “My Treasures Three”.
The treasures written about are three toys that belonged to her deceased child, Lawrence. Thirty eight years after his sad passing, Hannah still had the three toys and wrote the poem about the baby boy that she still missed. These “treasures” are now in the possession of Mark Hagenbuch in a cardboard box. They have been saved for almost 100 years.
My Treasures Three
by Hannah Margaret Hagenbuch
I sit alone with my treasures,
A string of spools, a doll, a ball
But those treasures three are more dear to me
Than all the gold in this whole wide world,
Or all the pearls in the sea.
For they bring back memories to me
Of a fair-haired baby boy,
Who for a short time played around my knee
Or close within my arms, his head
Or close upon my breast
He slept in sweet security.
For two short years he stayed with us
In this world of sorrow and care,
Then an angel came down from
And carried our baby up there.
So now as I look at these treasures three
Then lay them away in their place,
I can see again a little form
The smile of a little face.
And as ever a prayer wells up in my heart
“O Father in heaven, I pray,
“Help us ever to travel the upward path
That we’ll be re-united some day.”