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s/o Spanish Flu stories


TexasProud
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As I said in the other thread my Mom96 and Dad(who would be 100 if he hadn't died a few years ago) were born shortly after the Spanish flu.  My dad was the youngest of 12 so he would have had older siblings who lived through it.  I do believe that there was one baby who died before him, which would have been right around the time of the Spanish flu but I have no idea if it's connected.

I got curious and googled my dad's surname and "Spanish flu" and came up with stories from the small rural county where he grew up.  I know that anyone with his surname there is related to me in some way.  There were a lot of stories of entire families who died, travelers who died while going through town and were buried in the town cemetery.  One of my relatives (not a direct one so I have no idea exactly how we're related) talked about how her great grandmother died and her grandmother (the daughter) was so sick that she didn't even know of the death for two weeks.  Her grandmother would have been older than my dad but not as old as his parents. 

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Great video, thank you for posting. 

I went through my family tree, and amazingly, no one died during the flu pandemic. No deaths at all in that time period. 

None of my great-grandparents talked about the flu pandemic, but I was very young while they were alive, so it's not a topic they would have discussed anyway.  I wish they were still around. I have so many things I wish I could ask them.   

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I looked through my family tree and while I don't know if any of my grandmother's family actually died of the flu, she lost many family members during the years 1919-1922, and I know that the city where she lived was hit pretty hard.  In a space of four years, my grandma lost both of her parents, her last remaining grandparent and four or five aunts and uncles.

I only ever heard my grandma talk about one aunt, so I thought that she didn't have others.  When I learned that she had had several, and it upset me to know that none of them would take my grandma in so that she could avoid growing up in an orphanage.  But the more I looked, the more I realized how impossible that would have been.  When I found records for her aunts and uncles, I realized that almost all of them either died or lost a spouse during this time.  Of course a recent widow/widower would not want to take on extra children when they themselves were struggling.  

 

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My grandmother was born at the beginning of the Spanish Flu. I don't recall her ever mentioning it.

Her husband was the baby of a large family, which lived to grow up and spawn a large extended family. So maybe they were not as affected in rural Ohio?

 

(My husband's familly is much smaller -- but I have no sense that there were children that died. Just people that did not get married or, once married, had no kids).  There was a weird story about his grandfather's father leaving Spokane in a hurry to move somewhere -- such a hurry they left dishes on the table, etc.  But I don't think the timing there matches up either.

 

Edited by vonfirmath
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My husband's grandmother was essentially orphaned (her father did live, but he lost himself in alcohol) by the 'Spanish' flu. She never knew her mother. She was a baby when she died. 

She was raised by her father's sister and moved around the country with her. Aunt Carrie even lived with her after she married and had children. My FIL, the youngest of family, has many good memories of her. 

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My paternal grandmother was an only child. She lost her mom to the flu of 1918. Her dad hired her out to another family as a maid, then left. She was beaten and humiliated daily. I think she was 11. 

My maternal grandfather lost his mom during the epidemic. He was 9. He and his dad traveled across Oklahoma and Texas and hired themselves out as cattle workers. 

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My grandfather lost both of his parents and his twin brother within a few months during the Spanish Flu. He was only 1-2 yrs old and ended up being raised by his older brother's family. 

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My grandmother was the next to youngest of 12 kids.  She was born in OK in 1910.  When she was about 12 they all packed up and took a train to CA.  So I guess they were in OK through the Spanish influenza.  I don't think any of them contracted it.

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My grandmother was a young new mother in 1918 (about 20) when she contracted influenza. She survived. If she had not, I would never have been born as my father (her second child) was born in 1920.

In family lore, the 1918 pandemic was no small affair. A great deal of death in this country and abroad. It was a subject of discussion.

Bill

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My sister is named after my grandfather's sister who died in the 1918 pandemic at the age of 9.  

On the other side of the family, my grandmother who only died in 2012 (at the age of 103) was quarantined at the age of 9 in her house for a month in Kansas in 1918. People would bring them food because they were not allowed to leave at all. My dad is a professor in public health, and had her tell her stories to his class called 'Plagues and Politics'. (This was a class taught from 2005-2015, and its title foreshadows what we have seen with covid). The class would interview her by phone for an hour, and there is one recording from one of the years she did it. I haven't listened to it, but would really like to.

Edited by lewelma
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Not ghoulish--story of flu burials and efforts to preserve/memorialize the unmarked burials, including of infants who died and were buried in baskets because of a coffin shortage: https://www.mountainhomemag.com/2019/08/29/275246/the-basket-babies

 

 

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My grandfather was a postman during the Spanish flu. He told his sons (my uncle and dad) about all the people who died along his route. Sometimes, their mail would pile up, and he would take it up to their house;  he would find either a house full of sick people or a house full of dead people. 

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