The 1918 Flu Epidemic... Did You Lose Family Too?

+9 votes
Research indicates my family lost at least one person in my father's paternal ancestry to the 1918 Flu Epidemic. His great-aunt is buried in a common grave with 145 other flu victims in Silverton, Colo. The County put up a memorial plaque up (with names) in remembrance of those in the common grave. I would guess that there were others in my family tree who were victims as well.  

I am curious about how many people might have discovered that the 1918 Flu Epidemic took some of their ancestors/family as well?
WikiTree profile: Steve Archuleta
in The Tree House by Steve Archuleta G2G6 (6.6k points)
edited by Steve Archuleta
My paternal grandfather entered World War I at the end of August, 1918. He arrived at Fort Jackson, S.C. in September 1918 as part of an Engineering Company.

Influenza hit the training camp in epidemic proportions in mid-September. According to records, hundreds soon became infected and were too ill to stand. My grandfather was among them. By the time the illness had run its course, over 5,000 had been stricken and over 300 had died. My grandfather did not die directly from the flu itself, but from the effects it had on his heart. He died in 1929 at age 32, of a massive heart attack, the day before my dad's second birthday, when my grandma was three months pregnant with my aunt. She never remarried.

My grandfather arrived in Fort Jackson in September. The Armistice was declared on November 11. I can't help but think of the sadness of it: Were it not for those few short weeks in 1918, my father and aunt would have grown up with their father, and my grandmother would have had more than five years of marriage with the man she loved.
I don't know of any specific death in my family due to the pandemic, but it had an indirect impact on my grandparents' life. My grandfather, survivor of Verdun's inferno who took two of his brothers, his brother-in-law and many more of his village, moved out of Brittany after the war, in 1919.

He happened to get employed by a farmer in Normandy, (for whom he has been working in summer harvests before the war), and who had lost about all his family and employees by the flu.

7 Answers

+7 votes
I have a family line, related to by marriage, where the immigrant parents and their two oldest teenage children died from the flu within days of each other.  The next oldest daughter (mid-teen) quickly married and kept the farm.  The rest of the children were placed with other local families to be raised.  The current generation knew nothing of this or their family history.
by Michelle Enke G2G6 Pilot (278k points)
I know of some collateral relatives who died.  My dad was living in a small town in Oklahoma where his father was the minister.  The doctor came down with the flu, so my granddad took over for him, although there was little he could do.
Michelle.... that last sentence is sort of hauntingly sad.
+7 votes
I have at least one ancestor that died during the flu epidemic. I've often wondered if we should have a sticker or something to memorialize those that died.
by Alex Stronach G2G6 Pilot (323k points)
I have asked my awesome wiki-mentor Mindy this question.  She will get back to me.  I found the 1918 Epidemic on the Wiki website under something called 'categories', but being sort of new to Wiki I have added that to my questions for her.

There is a broad category called 1918 Flu Pandemic. 

It is broken down geographically into several countries, such as the United States, then state, and then by county.  Most counties in the US have very few people under this category.  -- I just checked, and not every state is listed either.  This is an underused category, which is sad.

+4 votes
My Aunt Eva died then.  I have pictures,but thankfully not when she was ailing.
by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
+4 votes
Both of my wife's grandmother's parents died of the flu in 1918 in Sanga, Greece, within a few days of each other. They left four children 11 and under, who were then adopted by an uncle and a few years later immigrated to the United States.
by Stu Bloom G2G6 Mach 7 (75.1k points)
+5 votes
My great-great-grandfather, Cyrille Emile Joseph Dequeker, died of the "Spanish flu" as it was called, in Lille (France) in 1919. His son-in-law, my great-grandfather, had been an early casualty of the Great War, in August 1914.
by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (454k points)
+3 votes
When Michigan death records for 1918 became available on line, my husband discovered a relative who had died suddenly from the flu in a town he had no connection to - he may have been traveling.  Apparently people literally dropped dead on the street suddenly from this.
by Jill Perry G2G6 Mach 4 (41.2k points)
+4 votes
I did have some relatives die from that epidemic. However, my grandmother survived the illness,
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)

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