Helen Marie Brooks d 27 June 1927

Helen Marie Brooks was born 27 January 1899, in Bartlett, NH.  She was the fourth child of Nelson Cleveland Brooks and Elizabeth B Cota.  Nelson worked in a barrel factory, and Elizabeth worked in a peg mill.  Shoe pegs were small pieces of hardwood, about the diameter of a wooden match, that were used to attach the sole of a shoe to the upper part.  Helen’s brother Harvey died young, so she grew up with sisters Inez and Althea. Family lore is that Helen was somewhat of a surprise baby, as she came along nine years after the next oldest.  The family lived in Bartlett at the time of the 1900 census.  

Helen’s father died of Brights disease when she was only two years old.  Her mother married William Philips in 1904, but her Helen’s stepfather died in 1905 of pneumonia.  Elizabeth married Willis Nash in 1909, and this was the father figure for Helen, and called grandpa by her children.  In some records, she is called Helen Nash.

By 1910, Willis, Lizzie, and Helen were living in Plainfield NH.  Her sisters had moved out of the household by this time. 

On 9 April 1915, Helen married George Henry Laber, son of Frank T Labor and Lizzie LaClair.  George had previously been married to Effie Chapman, but that marriage ended in divorce. 

In 1916, they lived with Helen’s mother, at 11 Mahan, in Lebanon.  In 1918, they lived at 7 Foundary Street, according to George’s WW1 draft registration.  He was listed as an unemployed machinist. 

In 1920, Helen and George lived at 112 School Street in Lebanon, with their year-old daughter [name withheld, still living].  George was a machinist in a machine shop.  In 1921, Helen and George had a son, Edmond.  He only lived nine months.  Cause of death was “fermentative diarrhea”.  A book on feeding infants, published in 1917, says that this can be caused by a combination of heat (much more common in summer) and may be related to unpasteurized or unsterilized milk.  Edmund was buried at Glenwood Cemetery.  Helen had two more children, Althea Elizabeth (1922-1989) and George Edward (1927-2007).  Helen worked in the area mills.

The following is based on information provided by one of Helen’s children:  In 1926, Helen was seven months pregnant and weighed around 200 pounds. She slipped and took a bad fall on the ice hitting her head against the ground. A short time later, the daughters caught the measles and passed it on to Helen. She was so badly infected that she nearly died and the skin on her face looked raw. When George Edward was born in January of 1927, he was the first child that she had not been able to nurse. With an eight year old, a four year old and a three month old baby, they moved back to the farm which had no lights, running water or plumbing. The big barn out back had just blown down, and there were no friends or anyone close by to talk too. George Henry had to leave early and travel over dirt roads to get to and from work often getting home late in the evening.   Helen began to get what was called “felons” on her fingers…pus sacks around the fingernails…and used home remedy cures rather than see a doctor. She also began to get headaches so bad that her mother Lizzie agreed to come and stay with her. The combination of all these problems resulted in the situation which awakened George Henry one evening when he heard the sound of a gunshot and found Helen laying outside on the step with a wound in her head. He dragged her inside and tried to stop the bleeding but had to drive to the nearest house a half-mile away or better just to call the doctor and the sheriff.

Helen’s death was recorded as a suicide which may have been the case, since there were reportedly two previous unsuccessful attempts.  Her poor health record and the post partum depression, an illness of which people knew very little about at the time, may have contributed to the cause. It is also important to indicate that the house had been empty for about three or four years and occasionally hobos and transients would occupy the house, since there was evidence of prowlers. This is possibly why George Henry had kept a loaded gun in the bureau.

I do not have a burial location for Helen.  George remarried, and died in 1944 in Lebanon.  His second wife reportedly honored his request to be buried with his wife and son Edmund, so they should all be at Glenwood. 

 

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