Photos by Barry Wallace
I've passed this King City Cemetery monument a few times over the years and always noted with sad sentiment what a incomparable tragedy it must have been for Thomas and Janet Lawson to lose their five children, ages 2, 4, 9, 11 and 13 years within the space of three weeks in July of 1862. I have come to believe it was cholera that struck down these children. Cholera arrived in Canada in the 1830s and it was thought to have been brought by poor and sick Irish immigrants. Major epidemics occurred in Canada in 1832, 1834, 1849, 1851, 1852, 1854 and 1881. Sporadic cases occurred regularly however in the 70-year period leading up to the 1900s, when it was finally brought under control. In the case of Thomas and Janet, the final agony was the death of Janet herself in 1863, just five months after the death of all her children. Thomas lived with his grief for another 26 years before passing away in 1889, at the age of 68 years.
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