16 September 2022

What Happened to Baby Kellan?

Rose City Sanitarium in 1909
Photo credit: City of Portland Archives, A2004-002.9249. 

Note to readers: Please do not download or share this picture, for your own copy, seek permission from  https://vintageportland.wordpress.com/tag/rose-city-sanitarium/

My recent research has taken me to the family of Arthur Kellan and Jean Ethel Watt. Jean is my paternal great aunt. She died at the age of twenty-seven. My dad never knew her, but he had fond memories of his Uncle Art. Art was the person who took my dad to his first Detroit Tigers game.

Arthur Kellan and Jean Watt Kellan had a son, born on 3 January 1914 at Rose City Sanitarium, Portland, Oregon. In all my research I never came across the fact that they had a child until I found Baby Kellan's birth information in the state of Oregon.

Source: Oregon Center for Health Statistics; Portland, Oregon; Oregon, Birth Records, 1903-1918. Citing the birth of Male Kellan; record number 1  47, Ancestry.com.

I knew that Arthur Kellan was living in Detroit, Michigan in the 1920 Census. I knew that Jean Watt Kellan had died by 1920, but never knew about the baby or what happened to baby Kellan.

I was afraid of what might have happened to him/her and looked for the baby in the Oregon State Death Records.

Source: Ancestry.com. Oregon, U.S., State Deaths, 1864-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2021. Citing the death of Baby Kellan, 6 January 1914.

Why did I say him/her? If you look at the birth record, the child is listed as male. The death record says female. Baby Kellan lived three days. 

Can anyone read the cause of death? If so, leave a comment, please.


  1. Poor baby. I suspect it was harder to keep premature babies live then than it is now (and it's not easy now!). It's a surprise that the certificates give different a different sex. You wouldn't think that would be too hard to tell.
    The cause of death looks like "inanitation" to me. It means "exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment" and "lack of mental or spiritual vigor and enthusiasm."

  2. Thank you for the cause of death information. I am guessing the doctor was in a hurry or something. My last appointment the doctor wrote I was right handed and I am left.