Monday, May 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #19 ~ Who Was Esther?

This is part of the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" Challenge begun by Amy Johnson Crow, author of the blog No Story Too Small.

Esther Matus Villatoro

This is a photo of Esther Matus Villatoro. She was my maternal great-grandmother and second wife of my great-grandfather, Watson (Frederick) Emory Webster, also known as "The Traveling Dentist" here on my blog.

How much do I really know about Esther? I'm afraid I don't know nearly enough about her. Yes, I know when and where she was born and when and where she died. But, I don't know what she was like. I don't know what kinds of foods she liked or what she liked to do in her spare time. What was her favorite color? Did she like to dance? Did she like to read? What was her childhood like?

I know she traveled a bit during her life because of her husband's travels. Did she like traveling?

She was born in Mexico but moved with her husband to Brazil. Did she miss Mexico? Did she like Brazil?

See? I have questions. Unfortunately, the person who may have been able to answer my questions about Esther passed away 19 years ago. That would be Esther's son, my grandfather, Debs Warren Webster. I say that he "may" have been able to tell me something about Esther because he was only five years old when she passed away. So, I don't really know if he would have been able to answer all of my questions about what Esther was like.

So, I'm left to piece together Esther's life the best I can. And I'll tell you what I do know about her so far.

The date I have for Esther's birth is 18 September 1893. She was born in Arriaga, Chiapas, Mexico to Nicanor Matus and Raymunda Villatoro. Esther was the oldest of four children born to Nicanor and Raymunda. Esther's siblings were Catalina, Francisco, and Crecenciana.

At some point, Esther's youngest sister, Crecenciana, moved to Brazil too. I'll share more about her in a future post.

Esther was very young when she married my great-grandfather. I don't have their marriage date, but their first child, Carlota, was born on January 11, 1910. So, if Esther and Frederick got married in 1909, Esther would have been around sixteen years old at the time.

I wish I knew when this beautiful photo of Esther was taken. What was the occasion? It must have been something special. She was wearing a corsage and had some flowers in her hand. Because she was wearing her wedding ring in the photo, this must have been taken sometime during or after 1909.

Esther Matus Villatoro

By the time Esther was 25 years old, she was the mother of five children. My Grandpa Debs was her third child.

On 1 November 1919, about a year after her last child was born, Esther passed away from
tuberculosis. According to the birthdate I have for Esther, she was 26 years of age at the time of her death. Her death certificate, however, states she was 25 years old when she passed away. So, there's some discrepancy here.

As I mentioned earlier, my grandfather was only five years old when Esther died. Her death was very difficult for him.

Death visited the Webster family again three more times. Frederick not only had to bury his wife, but three of his children, Edna, Eugene, and Alice. Of the five children born to Esther and Frederick, my Grandpa Debs, and his sister Carlota, were the only children who survived to adulthood.

This must have been so difficult for Debs, Carlota, and Frederick. I don't yet know why Edna, Eugene and Alice passed away. I wonder if they contracted tuberculosis from Esther. I have yet to find their death records. Because my great-grandfather traveled so much, it's difficult to say where the children passed away.

I do have Esther's death certificate, which I will share in a future post. And even though I don't know all I'd like to know about Esther at this time, I'm so very grateful to have photos of her. They were found in my Grandpa Debs' personal belongings. I'm thankful he took such great care of them.

Thanks for reading!


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  1. What a great read. I loved seeing what you know and what you wonder. I feel the same way about the ancestors I've focused on this year. Nice to know we're in good company.

  2. I love the photo of her in the white dress - the expression in her eyes is captivating!

    1. I love that photo too Debi. I wonder if it was her wedding portrait.

  3. She is mesmerizing! Good luck with your searching.




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