|Birth: ||Jun. 20, 1833|
|Death: ||Sep. 14, 1855|
New Hampshire, USA
Lizzie's friends described her as being full of life. Her own father, Kennebunk's Judge Edward Emerson Bourne, remarked that Lizzie's "resolution transcended her physical power. No obstacle could discourage her in the pursuit of any object which she had resolved to attain." Lizzie had a heart condition.
Lizzie had accompanied her Aunt Jane & Uncle George and cousin Lucy Bourne (the Bournes of the Wedding Cake House) to Mt. Washington for a stay at Glen House, lodging at the eastern end of New Hampshire's Presidential Range.
Lizzie, George, and Lucy set out in the afternoon of September 14, 1855, to hike Mount Washington, leaving Jane behind at Glen House. They had decided not to hire a guide as they figured the initial carriage road then the bridle path would be easy enough to follow. Their intent was to spend the night at the Tip-Top House, a simple lodge at the summit. Lizzie was apparently most eager to witness what by all accounts were splendid sunrises from atop Mount Washington.
As the day waned, they hiked further and with growing fatigue, hoping to catch sight of the Tip-Top House. But as they crested what they believed to be the last ridge, they were stunned and discouraged to find that the mountain still rose above them.
The wind had picked up, the sun was setting, and the temperatures were dropping. With visibility worsening due to darkness and clouds, the exhausted trio had to stop. George Bourne decided he would not sleep and threw all his remaining energy into building a crude wall of stone to shelter them from the fierce wind. He would frequently check on his daughter and niece who were huddled together with only their shawls for warmth. At one point during the evening, he crouched to check on Lizzie once more, only to find her dead. As he was to later write, she "had uttered no complaint, expressed no regret or fear but passed silently away." It is said that Lizzie had a preexisting heart condition made fatal by her exertion and the harsh conditions.
At first light, George and his daughter emerged from their rocky sanctuary. As the skies cleared and brightened, imagine the height of their grief to discover that they had spent the night but a few hundred yards from the safety of the summit lodge!
Judge Bourne received word of his daughter's death and had Lizzie's body brought home to Kennebunk, and it was said that "a sweet smile still lingered" on her face. In the days following Lizzie's death, Judge Bourne wrote that he wished "no material change be made in the wall thrown up by my brother in his great anxiety for the protection of Lizzie and Lucy from the fury of the gale, as I hope to place there some more enduring monument to the memory of my daughter." Although he had a massive stone monument built, the relative inaccessibility of the site made it impossible to place it there. So, the monument—and consequently Lizzie's frail form—are in Kennebunk's Hope Cemetery instead. If one visits Mount Washington today, a small stone cairn alongside the cog rail tracks near the summit bears a white cross, marking the site of Lizzie's untimely demise.
The lengthy inscription on the stone--excerpted here--is written by Lizzie's father, who had to endure the grief of outliving his only daughter:
Mount, sinless spirit, to thy destined rest!
Whilst I (reversed our nature's kindlier doom) pour forth a father's sorrows o'er thy tomb.
Here in the twillight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, she lay,
And far from the sky serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star.
Lizzie was sorely missed. Her story is canonized among the lore of the White Mountains in countless articles and books. She was immortalized in at least four different paintings done after her death. Her friends had even conducted a seance.
The rest of this story is that Lizzie's uncle, George Bourne, died only 15 months later, December 1856 at age 55. According to writings by his brother Judge Bourne, George had been physically weakened and wracked with guilt from the ordeal on Mount Washington. He battled typhoid fever and was confined to bed the last two months of his life.
Edward Emerson Bourne (1797 - 1873)
Mary H Gilpatrick Bourne (1799 - 1852)
Julia M Bourne (1825 - 1851)*
Edward Emerson Bourne (1831 - 1894)*
Lizzie Bourne (1833 - 1855)
Mary O Bourne (1842 - 1843)*
Created by: Hurricane
Record added: Aug 09, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40478779