Monday, March 11, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 11 ~ Gone Too Soon

[ This post originally was written for Digging Down East
 on February 4, 2013]

Annie Virginia Bustin was born on March 3, 1913, the second daughter of Tom and Catherine (Cassie) Bustin, in Portland, Maine. Tom and Cassie were one of 3 couples described above on the page:

“3 Brothers Marry 3 Sisters”

As the newspaper account relays,Tom had followed his brother Fred, my great grandfather, to the States from New Brunswick to work on the Maine Central Railroad.


The 1920 Portland Census shows the family renting at 1245 Forest Avenue, Tom (the father), Catherine (the mother), Eva (8), Annie (6), Bernice (Bunny) (5), and Leslie (Let) (4 1/2).
Anne Bustin

By 1930, the two eldest daughters were looking ahead to graduating from Deering High School. Eva would be a member of the Class of 1930, and Annie would follow next in 1931.


It was only a few days after Annie graduated from high school that it was announced that she and Stanley Grant, a young man from Peaks Island, had run off to Portsmouth, New Hampshire (the Gretna Green of its day), to be married.

Marriage Of Early June Is
Announced By Bride’s Parents

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Bustin of Forest Avenue announce the marriage of their daughter, Miss Anne Virginia Bustin, to S. Kenneth Grant, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Grant of A Street, Peaks Island. The marriage took place June 1 in Portsmouth, N.H.
Mrs. Grant was graduated last week from the Deering High School and Mr. Grant attended Portland High School. He is employed a the A.H. Benoit Co.

There is a suspicion that she had become pregnant and therefore felt the pressure to make the union legal, as was customary for that day.  If that is in fact what happened, then the story of Annie’s short life is especially tragic.

Her death record tells the sad story of Annie Bustin contracting Encephalitis Lethargica, otherwise known as “Sleepy Sickness,”

During the years of 1917 to the late 20’s and early 30’s, there was an epidemic of Encephalitis Lethargica in this country, running concurrently with the Spanish Flu, and frequently causing catatonia. Readers may recall the 1990 film “Awakenings,” which featured patients suffering from this disease.

Whatever Annie endured for over 40 days, the idea that she may have been 3 months pregnant would have complicated matters considerably, and she passed away on August 6, 1931, at the tender age of 18 years, 5 months, and 3 days, leaving a young grieving widower behind.

Annie Grant is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, in Falmouth, Maine, with her parents, Tom and Cassie Bustin, and her sister Eva. Although Stanley Grant’s name in on the headstone, I believe he did indeed remarry and is probably not buried there.



Lisa Alzo of  The Accidental Genealogist blog is presenting her Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month series in honor of National Women’s History Month.


  1. What a sad story. So he lost not only his wife but his young child as well. I remember the movie "Awakenings," but I did not remember the cause. Now I'm interested to research encephalitis more.

  2. I also meant to tell you that she looks like a silent movie star in that photo!