Ostrom is a well researched name in Ontario history. Not only were they prolific but they were also United Empire Loyalists and one of the first families to settle in Belleville. From there they multiplied and spread all over the county and various others Ontario Counties as well. This is a story of one such family.
THE DEATH OF ELIJAH
Elijah came from a family eight. Six boys and the two youngest girls. His mother died shortly after the birth of his youngest sister. Catherine remembered it as if it were yesterday. It was the year they wed.
Many years and seven children had past since that day in 1849.
"I'm ailing Kate. Must be something I ate. I think I'll go rest for a bit."
The year was 1892, it was hot and unseasonably humid that year. Perhaps her husband had worked to hard and the humidity had affected him, she thought as she prepared a light supper for the two of them.
About a half hour later she climbed the stairs to see how he was to find him moaning and writhing in the bed, the pain more than he could bear.
She ran next door to her neighbour asking them to send for the doctor, post haste.
By the time Dr.King arrived at the house it was too late. Elijah was gone. The diagnosis, heat-failure due to acute peritonitis.
The next year and one half she would mourn the loss of her lifetime partner and father of her children.
Catherine (Archer) Ostrom
wife of Elijah Ketcheson Ostrom
1892 in her widow's weeds
A widow was expected to mourn for one and one half years divided into three sections
Deep mourning, middle mourning and late mourning.
While not all followed the rules as such this would be a period where the widow would be entirely dressed in black crape (crepe) or wool. This period lasted one year.
The next nine months would be what was considered middle mourning and those more fortunate, who could afford it would added possibly some white lace or white collars and cuffs.
At this stage the widow would change to a less stark appearance and wear a lighter weight dress of grey or any subdued shades of purple, violet, mauves and of course black.
Some women continued to wear black for the rest of their lives, especially those of a more mature age.
*An interesting aside. The photograph of Catherine Ostrom was marked from a studio in Montréal. I would imagine that photographers of that time travelled looking for work where they could. I cannot imagine that Catherine traveled to Montréal for the photograph.
For more on: Elijah Ostrom and Cahterine (Archer)