Those Two Sets of Twins

Among Clabe and Leora Wilson’s ten children were two sets of twins. I’d heard that twins were more likely every other generation, but no one else in the family had twins that I knew about.

Grandma Leora said she’d had miscarriages before both sets of twins. I believe the first time was while she suffered through the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920. She was a very strong young woman and yet she was miserable, so miserable that she said she would have been glad to die. But she had two small boys and a baby daughter whom she had to get well for.

Her recovery took months, borne out by family postcards and even a newspaper item.

Twins Dale and Darlene were born in Stuart, May 1921.

Wilson kids: Donald, Delbert, twins Darlene and Dale, Doris. Stuart, Iowa, April 1923

The second time, they’d just moved to a house south of Dexter that had bedbugs and was filthy. Leora scoured and scoured for her husband and seven children. She was hospitalized at least overnight, worn out, and perhaps another miscarriage?

That was in late 1926. Twins Jack and Jean were born in January 1929. (These twins succumbed to whooping cough when they were only a few weeks old.)

I finally discovered twins in Clabe Wilson’s ancestry. His father, Daniel Ross Wilson, had a twin named George A. Wilson. They were both born in Carroll County, Iowa, July 24, 1868.

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There is a good-sized Wilson burial plot at the east end of the Coon Rapids cemetery, but I could not find George buried there.


The story of the second set of twins will be part of Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression, due out this spring.

10 comments

  1. I found much of interest in this post. First, the idea of the occurrence of twins skipping a generation, something that I had always heard too. Second, the naming of all the kids with the same initial letter (my brother did that with his sons–all J’s–but not his daughters); we also have two families of friends who have done the same with their large numbers of children (one all L’s and the other all K’s). Finally, the prevalence of the death of young children–miscarriages, diseases, etc. Things we have little fear of today were life-threatening back in the “good ol’ days.” We have much for which to be thankful!

    • The Wilsons lost another infant, their last, two years after the younger twins. Weak heart, the doctor said. Having twins would have kept our son from being an only, but none of my cousins had twins either.

  2. I had four children (no twins), and all of my life growing up, I was told by everyone that I would have twins. My grandmother had been a twin, And her daughter, ( my father’s sister) had twins. I did not have twins! 🙂 The stories of what previous generations went through with their children is heartbreaking: so many died so young, both the children, and the young mothers in childbirth. When you visit a cemetery and see all the little angels on the grave stones, it is hard to believe how many never reached the age of two. Your Grandma Leora was a very strong woman! That picture of the first set of twins is darling! My mother had whopping cough and it took a very long time for her to recover.

  3. My parents Dale and Della Clausen wanted a dozen children (it’s documented in letters Della wrote to her mother and stories from her sister). Their first three were Deborah (me), Denise, and Darlene. Sadly, Della died at age 28. I’ve often wondered if they would have kept up with the alliteration had they had the other nine: Doctor Dale and his darling Della had a dozen little dreams: Deborah, Denise, Darlene…it’s fun to think of 9 other D names!

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