Friday, February 26, 2016

Carnarvon's Crazy Cousin

In mid November of 1924, Mrs. Rosemary Sparkman attended the Ladies Literary Club silver tea event.  The Salt Lake City group presented a musical program amidst the lovely patriotic decorations, which included tables set with white chrysanthemums, red and blue candies, ices adorned with flags and patriotic colored cakes and other sweets.  Mrs. Sparkman appeared with Miss Ethelyn Cannon to present "The Cake Walk" during the program.  Everything seemed wonderful.

Channel forward in time....about 30 days....mid December of 1924.  On a Saturday evening, a young mother, Rosemary Sparkman, age 28, falls into a deep case of depression.  Somehow, things seemed hopeless for her on this very day, even though she had been seen by a physician for her repeated melancholy for quite some time.

This young mother decided that this very day would be the last for her and her two children on this earth.  With careful tending, Rosemary had her children dressed in their night clothes and tucked into bed.  After they had dozed off, she took a soft cotton cloth, dipped in chloroform, and placed it over their nose and mouth.  She took a rubber head cap and put it over their faces to keep the effects of the chloroform from escaping into the bedroom.  Both children were introduced to eternal sleep by their mother.

Mrs. Sparkman undressed herself for the evening and, leaving on her stockings and a long cotton gown, lay down on the floor of the parlor.  She had turned on four gas burners of the heating stove.  This was the last of her life.  She had decided to do to herself that which she had done to her children.

Photo found on , note the mistake on the name of the university that employed her husband.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch issue of 8 December 1924, reported that Mrs. Sparkman and her children were found lifeless.  Her husband was out of town on business.  Mr. Colley Sparkman was an assistant professor of languages at the University of Utah.  The bodies were found by George Ross, owner of the home in which the Sparkman family lived.  He detected the smell of gas as he entered the back door of the home.  Finding Mrs. Sparkman on the floor, he summoned the police.  Detectives arrived just minutes after the gas valves had been turned off.

The children were found in their beds, both having burns on their lips and faces, apparently from the chloroform.  Mrs. Sparkman also had burns on her lips from dosing herself with the same cloth saturated with the drug.

A note was found in the vestment worn by Rosemary.  It read : "lay me away quietly.  No friends, I had no friends in life, nor was I granted them in death.  Let me be alone."

In a brief interview with Mr. Sparkman, he told his life with his wife and children.  He was so proud of his dear Wilford, age 9, and Lorna, age 7.  He did worry about his wife's occasional despondency, but felt she was fine to leave with the children while on a business trip.

Upon further inquiry regarding the family of Rosemary, it was revealed that she was the daughter of Robert Carnarvon and Cecilia McIntyre, born in Scotland in 1896.  Mr. Sparkman  added that Rosemary was the cousin of the late Lord Carnarvon of England.  You might remember him as the financier and discoverer of  the tomb of King Tutankhamen, in Egypt, with his partner, Howard Carter. Lord Carnarvon died in 1923 as a result of shaving an infected mosquito bite, which progressed to acute pneumonia.  Some think it was attributed to the Curse of the Tomb.  Could the curse have affected other family members?  Like Rosemary Carnarvon Sparkman?  I will leave that research up to you...if you dare!

The grave memorial #166413 for Rosemary can be found at in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah.

A detailed newspaper report can be found in the Ogden Standard -Examiner, 8 December 1924, page one.

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