A Most Memorable Moment
By Sherry Pittman
1 February 1998
The birth of a baby is a memorable moment in the
lives of most families. The birth is usually anticipated
with much joy and expectation. As the last few
months approach, the occasional worry about the upcoming
delivery and well being of both the mother and the expected
baby filter into the minds of those awaiting the
big day. Luckily, in most cases, these worries
are needless and on the child's day of birth, a normal,
healthy baby enters the lives of a thankful family.
The memorable moment I wish to share with you today,
involves the birth of two little boys in the year 1898,
in rural upstate New York. A young woman was expecting
her fourth child in July of that year. Having
already delivered three normal babies, the woman was
not overly concerned about the pending birth of another
child. However, on the 17th of May, between six
and eight weeks earlier than expected, she found herself
The doctor was called, as well as the mid-wife, whom
everyone called Aunt Margaret, even though she was no
relation. After some time not one, but two baby
boys were born, and together they weighed only 4 lbs.
and 15 oz. It is important to remember that the
year was 1898, the delivery was in a home in the country
with no running water and medical technology was not
what it is today. The doctor is said to have stated
with conviction that there was no use in even cutting
the umbilical cords of the two babies, because they
could never survive. The mid-wife, Margaret, however,
is said to have declared in a forceful tone, "You will
cut the cords, these two babies will both grow to be
200 lb. men!" The doctor did as she commanded
and Aunt Margaret began her arduous task of saving the
Aunt Margaret first made up a very weak whiskey sling,
a mixture of whiskey, water and sugar, and using the
corner of a soaked rag, forced a drop of the sling into
the very tiny mouths of the very tiny boys. The
babies were fed milk in this same manner for many months.
They were not dressed for many weeks. They were
laid on pillows covered with flannel and carried from
place to place on the pillows to limit human contact
as much as possible. The pillows were heated in
the old cook stove before the flannel and then the boys
were placed upon them. The effect of the heated
pillows was probably much like that of the modern day
incubator. In the end, both boys, Harry and Henry
Noble grew to adulthood. Both boys, although small
for their age for most of their lives, eventually grew
to be normal sized adults, neither however grew to the
200 lbs. predicted by Aunt Margaret.
This event is memorable in that it is a fine
example of the indomitable spirit of Americans who fought
against of insufferable odds to raise families and become
the prosperous society that the United States
is today. The determination of one woman, resulted
in the survival of two babies that otherwise would have
been left to die. The birth and survival of Harry
and Henry Noble were, however, even more important to
me and my family, because Harry Noble was my great grandfather,
and Henry Noble, who will be 100 years old on May 17th
of this year, is my great great uncle. These two
men fathered a total of three children, eight
grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren. Had
their lives been abandoned, a total of 28 individuals
who followed them, also would not have come in existence.
We are all grateful to the faith and will of that determined
mid-wife known as Aunt Margaret.
Harry and Henry Noble, twin boys of Frank and Addie
Buck Noble. Born 17 May 1898.
Notes of L. Freeman:
The name of the doctor was Dr. Daniel McCormick Taylor,
who delivered many of the babies in Edwards, Russell,
and Fine during that era.
Harry, as a young, married man and father of a daughter,
died by drowning in 1922. His widow married Henry
and they had a daughter and a son. Henry lived
to be 101 years old, dying in 1999 shortly before his
life would have spanned three centuries.
The daughter of Harry was Harriet (who passed away
in 1985) who married Gordon Benoit (who passed away
in 2002). They had a daughter, Sandra, who married
Michael Pittman. Their daughter, Sherry, wrote
the above article for a contest she entered when she
was 13 years old in 1998.
When Henry and his wife, Ruth, had a daughter they
named her Margaret in honor of the Aunt Margaret who
was so instrumental in saving his life. Henry's
son, Frank, was named for the twins' father.