Friday, January 23, 2015


Recently a frequent reader of this blog sent me the following photo of a grave at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois:

Photo courtesy William Kazupski

It is the grave of Baby Boy (Ronald) Jarrett - a "Medical History Baby."  Then the tombstone says "His Death Saved the Lives of Many."  The person who took the photo thought there would probably be a good story under that tombstone and I'm sure he's right - but I can't find it.

Before we look at the Medical History Baby, let's see what we can find out about his family.

Baby Boy Ronald Jarrett was born and died on November 12, 1942.  He was the son of Roy Jarrett and Catherine, nee Bonomo.

Catherine Bonomo was born in May of 1919 in Illinois - probably Chicago.  She was the third child (and only daughter) of Joseph Bonomo (1889-1985) and his wife Jennie (1892-1929).  Catherine had two brothers, Philip (1914-1976) and Samuel (1916-1999).

Catherine shows up as an infant on the 1920 US Census.  The family is living at 3613 S. Wells Street in Chicago.  There is a high-rise apartment on that spot today.  Catherine's father Joseph was a house builder by trade.  He had come to the US from Italy in 1907.

Catherine's mother Jennie died in 1929.  In the 1930 US Census, eleven year old Catherine has gone to live with an aunt and uncle, Fannie and Tony Bruno, and their two year old daughter Mary. Catherine's brothers stayed with their father.

This is where the trail goes cold.

Ronald Jarrett's father was named Roy Jarrett.  There are many records for a Roy Jarrett, and even some for LeRoy Jarrett but the dates don't line up.  I could not find any record of the marriage (or divorce) of Roy Jarrett and Catherine Bonomo.  I could not find Roy or Catherine in the 1940 US Census.  The address they gave on Ronald's birth certificate, 2615 S. Shields Avenue, was the same address Joseph Bonomo used when he registered for the draft in 1942. Unfortunately, in the 1940 US Census for 2615 S. Shields there is no Bonomo (or Jarrett) listed.

2615 S. Shields, Chicago

Now lets look at the Medical History Baby.  Here is his death certificate:

He lived for one hour and fifty minutes.  The Cause of Death (verified by autopsy) was "Intracranial hemorrhage" complicated by a "Laceration of right tentorial leaf."

I am not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but from what I have read, these types of injuries are often complications of the birth process.  I was unable to find any literature that mentioned Ronald Jarrett specifically but I had better luck checking on the doctor who signed the death certificate, Harry P. Maxwell, MD.  Dr. Maxwell was one of the founding members of the Neurosurgical Society of America.  He has written numerous research papers on neurological injuries in newborn babies.  I think it is safe to say that in some way Dr. Maxwell was able to learn from the injuries of little Ronald Jarrett, and through that was able to develop methods or procedures that might save future newborns from these types of injuries.  Unfortunately I was not able to find out any particulars of the Jarrett case.

Little Ronald Jarrett was buried in his maternal grandparents' (Bonomo) plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip:

Photo courtesy William Kazupski

Unfortunately I was unable to find out anything more about Roy Jarrett or Catherine Bonomo Jarrett.  If anyone has any more information about Ronald Jarrett or his parents, please let me know and I will pass it along in a future update. 

Photo courtesy William Kazupski

Ronald Jarrett - alive for less than two hours, yet he left the world a better place than he found it.  May he rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. Medical 'history' baby. The important word here is 'history'. That means that some kind of line was drawn. Before then... After that. And when you add to it the rest about 'saving many lives', I think it's safe to assume that your deduction is probably correct. Something very important was learned from his death.
    But then again, this type of injury to the right side of a baby’s brain is more commonly found in poor delivery techniques. What we know today as malpractice. Maybe the doctor was the one who learned something. And the grief-stricken parents, desperate to find some meaning in their child’s short life, assigned too much significance to it.