Heart Failure Following Childbirth

Martha Lake Carmichael, my great-grandmother, had the nickname Heart. It’s not exactly known how this name came to her, but as I’ve researched her life and death, I’ve found it very fitting.

During her short life, Heart had a very active social and community life and appears to have been loved by all who knew her. Fortunately for me, the local paper, The Edgefield Advertiser, reported heavily on local society. Heart is reported as receiving out-of-town guests, helping with missionary fundraisers, decorating floats for parades, and attending many parties.

A description of her contributions to the community were included later in her obituary:

…from early childhood [Heart] has by her gentle manner and lovable disposition completely won those of all ages and classes with whom she came in contact. She was not only a social favorite but as a faithful and loyal member of the Methodist church she made her value felt in the religious life of the community. The influence which she had exerted upon her friends and the young people of the town has always been wholesome and helpful, having always devoted her time, talent and efforts to those things that elevate and uplift rather than to the transitory and fleeting things that afford temporal pleasure alone. [She] has been a blessing to Edgefield….

Perhaps this is where her nickname came from.

Heart married Henry Townes Medlock in 30 April 1914. She quickly became pregnant and gave birth to their son, Henry, the following February. There are few details of the pregnancy and birth, but an hour after giving birth, she passed away. The cause of death listed on the death certificate is “heart failure following child birth.” She was just 26 years old.

Heart earned her nickname by giving her heart to her friends, family, and community, and winning their hearts in return. In the end, she physically used up her heart to allow her only child to come into the world.

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