Editor’s note: This column was written from information provided by Thomas Edward Wall, who lives in California.

Editor’s note: This column was written from information provided by Thomas Edward Wall, who lives in California.

Bertie Eloise Newsom was born Feb. 2, 1913, somewhere in Texas and died in Sherman on July 3, 1926, when she was 13 years old. The cause of death was listed as "general toxemia" and indications are that she was mentally disabled.

Her birth parents are unknown, but at some time in her life she was adopted by Ed and Cora "Annie" Newsom, who lived on Maxey Street in Sherman. Annie Newsom was the great-aunt of Thomas Edward Wall, who now lives in sunny California where the temperature is warm, and, while we are experiencing almost unbearably cold temperatures off and on, Tom is enjoying extra warm weather for January.

Until recently Bertie had been lost with no memory of her known to the Newsom family or anyone else living in Sherman. The only thing known was that she was buried at West Hill Cemetery. It was like she had never existed and finding her was an accident. Tom credits putting together parts of Bertie’s life to some of the good people of Sherman.

He said that Thanksgiving is the time that he remembers his great Aunt Newsom. Her "fantastic" cornbread stuffing at Thanksgiving made the holiday stick in Tom’s mind all these years. During the season, she made the cornbread when he and his family drove from Fort Worth to visit her. His father was very fond of Aunt Newsom and tried to help her all her life.

In 1970 she died, and Tom recalled his father driving down by himself from Fort Worth to Sherman to attend the funeral. After he returned, he did not talk about his aunt, and, being a teenager, Tom never asked.

He now is in his 60s with a family of his own living in California where he practices law. Last Thanksgiving he thought about his Aunt Newsom and wondered about her life. He started doing some family research about her. His sister had in her possession a will made in 1954 by his aunt that was given to her when Tom’s father died. The will stated that the house on Maxey was to go to Tom’s grandmother, who incidentally, never received the property.

Tom contacted Security Title Inc., in Sherman to get a report on the property. His aunt had sold the property in 1955. One of the documents in the title report was a copy of the Affidavit of Heirship that his aunt completed to establish that she was the sole owner of the property. She said in the paper that her husband, Tom’s great uncle Ed Newsom, had died in 1949, a fact that Tom had not known since it was the same year he was born.

What shocked him was that his aunt stated that she and Ed had adopted a child named Bertie, who died when she was 13. Tom had no idea about the existence of Bertie. No one in the family had ever mentioned the Newsoms adopting any children or that the child had died. Tom contacted his uncle Jim, the only remaining relative who knew his aunt. The uncle lives in Las Vegas after a successful career in the military. Jim had no knowledge of an adoption, but said that one of the reasons that Tom’s father was so attached to Aunt Newsom was when he was growing up she was one of the few people who helped his grandmother raise her children after she was abandoned by her husband.

When Tom recalled that his sister had said his aunt was a member of Key Memorial Methodist Church in Sherman, he contacted the church to see if there were any records of his aunt or Bertie. He said he did not expect a reply, but was pleased when he did hear from Pastor Jim Welch, who enclosed death notices in the Sherman newspaper regarding his aunt’s and uncle’s deaths and most important of Bertie Newsom. All had been buried at West Hill.

On a cold, snowy day last December, Tom and his sister, Mary Elizabeth, drove from Fort Worth to Sherman to visit the graves of their relatives, especially Bertie, to whom Tom was developing a strong connection. As they were driving to Sherman, Tom remembered that his uncle Jim told him that when they were growing up, his grandfather and father would take the train from Fort Worth to visit the Newsoms (sometime without a ticket!).

He was given a general idea of the location of the graves at the cemetery, but they couldn’t locate them. They found a couple of cemetery workers who also looked, but without success. They went to the cemetery office and found the records of the graves, but when they went to the site there were no headstones.

When they stopped to have a meal before leaving town, Tom recalled that his Uncle Jim told him that money often was in short supply for the Newsoms, and it became apparent to him that there were no tombstones because they could not afford them.

At that point Tom knew he had to correct that omission. While the memory of his uncle and aunt was still known to family, the memory of their only daughter, Bertie, had been lost and would stay lost unless he did something about it.

He contacted Love Monuments in Sherman and with the assistance of Cara Hitz, headstones of the father, Thomas Edwin Newsom, the mother, Cora "Annie" Newsom, and their daughter, Bertie Eloise Newsom, were placed on the graves at West Hill Cemetery.

Bertie may have only lived 13 years on this earth, and probably had a very difficult life, but Tom said that she will be remembered, and he thinks his aunt would have liked that.

Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at d.hunt_903@yahoo.com.