Friday, April 24, 2020

1918 Influenza Pandemic in MS & my Paternal Grandfather

I have been researching the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and its presence in the lives of my grandparents. You can read about my maternal grandparents in New York City and my paternal grandmother in Ohio. It has been surprising to me that there is so little information about that Pandemic. I have books on the history of the counties/states where my grandparents lived and none of them mention the Pandemic. I have a book, ‘The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915 – 1945’ by Harvey Green which has only a couple paragraphs on the topic. A Google search gave me limited information. Reading 1918 newspapers from has been helpful. I hope we leave more information about our present Pandemic for future generations than 1918 has left for us. 

My paternal grandfather, Roy Jesse Brown, was 16 years old when the 1918 Influenza Pandemic hit Mississippi. He was living in Pike County, Mississippi with his parents, Jasper Pascal Brown and Rose Ella (Brumfield) Brown, and attending school. He had lived in rural Mississippi all his life, one of nine children. 

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. The 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia before swiftly spreading around the world. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theaters and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its deadly global march.[1]

Roy’s father was a farmer. Roy and his brothers most likely had many chores to do on the farm: feeding stock; turning large animals into the pasture; cleaning stables and pig pens; plowing, planting and harvesting; and more.[2]A healthy family was needed to keep the farm running smoothly and to keep the family fed. When the schools closed Roy and his brothers were mostly likely kept busy on the farm. Family stories say that besides running his farm, Jasper Pascal Brown ran a mill. Faye Seward Smith said Jasper, “was a mill wright in a paper mill.” Roy must have worked at the mill with his father, learning a skill he would use throughout his life. 

October 1918
The Yazoo Herald, MS

On 10 October 1918 The McComb City Enterprise Journal reported about 400 cases of Influenza in McComb City and the surrounding area in Pike County. The county’s Health Officer issued an order to close all public and private schools, churches and theatres in the county. He also banned all public gatherings due to the rapid spread of the “Spanish Influenza.” Doctors were told to report all new cases to the health officer. The next day the Yazoo Herald newspaper reported that the Mississippi State Board of Health  “issued an order prohibiting all public gatherings until all danger of an epidemic of Spanish Influenza is over.”

26 October 1918
The Enterprise Journal, MS

On 26 October 1918, the Enterprise Journal, a local paper for the Brown family, called the Influenza a “Malady”. It said “a number of cases” had been reported in Mississippi and residents of the state should “take every precaution against the disease”. 

The 1 November 1918 Vicksburg Evening Post advised people to feed Influenza patients: milk, a soft boiled egg, some toast or crackers, a bit of jelly or jam, some cooked cereal like oatmeal, hominy or rice. The article in the newspaper also advised that a doctor should be called in case of a fever or difficulty in breathing. 

The flu took a heavy human toll, wiping out entire families and leaving countless widows and orphans in its wake. Funeral parlors were overwhelmed and bodies piled up. Many people had to dig graves for their own family members. The flu was also detrimental to the economy. In the United States, businesses were forced to shut down because so many employees were sick. Basic services such as mail delivery and garbage collection were hindered due to flu-stricken workers. In some places there weren’t enough farm workers to harvest crops.[3]
Our Brown family may have contracted the Influenza but they had no deaths in Roy’s immediate family from the Pandemic. When Roy was older he moved to Ohio where he met and married my grandmother. I was just a toddler when Roy Jesse Brown died so I had no opportunity to hear any stories from him about the Influenza Pandemic. 

[1]Spanish Flu. History; digital article ( accessed April 2020). 
[2][2]Green, Harvey. The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915 – 1945 (Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press, 2000) 43 – 45. 
[3]Spanish Flu. History; digital article ( accessed April 2020).

Friday, April 17, 2020

1918 Influenza Pandemic in Ohio & my Paternal Grandmother

In recent days I have been wondering about my grandparents and how their lives were affected by the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Did they face any of the issues we are facing now, during the Corona Virus Pandemic? 

Thomas & Regina Mark 
with their 3 oldest children:
Isabel, Vera and Ivy (the youngest in the photo)

Almost 100 years ago, my paternal grandmother, Ivy R. (Mark) Brown, was only ten years old when the 1918 Influenza Pandemic began in the United States. Her parents, Thomas K. and N. Regina (Gruissy) Mark, were both 39 years old. In 1918, the Influenza was a problem for younger people.

This flu caused soreness and tiredness, a cough, loss of appetite, and sweating. It was particularly deadly for people in their 20s and 30s. It often lead to pneumonia, so many deaths were incorrectly reported as simply pneumonia related with no mention of the flu.[1]

Ivy was living with her parents and siblings in Seville, Medina County, Ohio. They were fortunate to live in a rural area in the fall of 1918 when the Influenza reached Ohio. “Crowded residential areas” had the perfect conditions for mass infection and the “isolation of the farm” had definite health advantages.[2]Her father, Thomas K. Mark, was a farmer and carpenter. In 1918 Thomas and N. Regina (Gruissy) Mark had six children and Regina was pregnant with another child. 

The experience across Ohio during the Spanish Flu was not universal. Midwestern states, like Ohio, knew the disease was coming from the coast by late September, but took a minute to act. Governor James Cox decided it would be best for individual local governments to make decisions for their citizens. However, on October 8th the Ohio Department of Health did begin making recommendations to close public gathering places (retail stores never completely closed in Ohio, although many cities imposed time restrictions).[3]

I doubt that the Mark family was affected by grocery shortages. They lived in a very rural area and grew their own food. They seldom, if ever, ate in restaurants. Ivy often helped in the garden and in the kitchen. My grandmother told me:

I had chores. When I was seven in took TB. I was supposed to stay out of doors as much as possible. I got the job of carrying in wood, carrying out ashes, feeding the chickens, anything to keep me outside.[4]

My grandmother and her siblings were in school in 1918. Most schools in Ohio closed. Ivy would have been delighted to spend her days outside rather than in school. She told me about her school:

It was a one-room school. About 30 kids in the room from first to eighth grade. I sat in a double seat. Like you have two kids to a seat.[5]

In Ohio each area of the state responded differently to the Influenza Pandemic. 

The fact that the neither the federal nor state government has a centralized response to the influenza epidemic makes for a dramatic variance between neighboring cities in how they handle the crisis.[6]

Also, because there was no centralized response, rumors spread through the state. Some people thought the disease was being spread by their World War I enemies. People wondered why schools and churches were closed but saloons were allowed to stay open. Newspaper advertisements sold home made “cures” for the Influenza. Newspapers focused on war reports and pushed Influenza facts to back pages.[7]This must have made the Mark family wonder what was happening in their area and in their state. Despite the confusion, the Pandemic passed. 

15 October 1918
The Akron Beacon Journal, Akron OH

This newspaper clipping calls the Influenza "Nothing New." It reports the disease came from Spain which was untrue. At least it does recommend calling a doctor and to refrain from panic. 

The first “wave of the disease” passed but it flared up again in December 1918. 

11 December 1918
The Akron Beacon Journal, Akron OH

By December, the Ohio newspapers were telling a different story. They called it "more deadly than war." 

I do not remember ever hearing any stories from my grandmother or her branch of her family about this time in our history. 

For a virus that killed 50 million people, the influenza of 1918 left very little in the way of cultural memory. …the 1918 pandemic seems to be a dark stretch of memory between the end of the Great War and the beginning of the Roaring Twenties. A pandemic doesn’t leave many physical traces.[8]

Fortunately, the Mark family made it safely through the Influenza. My grandmother, Ivy R. (Mark) Brown, went on to be the mother of seven children and grandmother of twenty. She lived to be 95 years old. 

[1]Robertson, Karen. The Spanish Influenza Comes to Ohio; Ohio History Connection; digital article ( accessed April 2020).
[2]Green, Harvey. The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915 – 1945 (Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas Press, 2000) 181.
[3]Robertson, Karen. The Spanish Influenza Comes to Ohio; Ohio History Connection; digital article ( accessed April 2020).
[4]Interviews with Ivy R. Mark Brown. Sept. 1993, 13 & 20 July 1994, 22 August 1994, August 1999. Notes held by Colleen G. Brown Pasquale.
[5]Interviews with Ivy R. Mark Brown. Sept. 1993, 13 & 20 July 1994, 22 August 1994, August 1999. Notes held by Colleen G. Brown Pasquale.

[6]“Columbus Is Surrounded” – When Spanish Flu Infected Ohio; Columbus Underground; digital article ( accessed April 2020).

[7]“Columbus Is Surrounded” – When Spanish Flu Infected Ohio; Columbus Underground; digital article ( accessed April 2020).

[8]“Columbus Is Surrounded” – When Spanish Flu Infected Ohio; Columbus Underground; digital article ( accessed April 2020).

Friday, April 10, 2020

1918 Influenza Pandemic in NY City & my Maternal Grandparents

There are times when we think our lives are very different from our grandparents. How could our grandparents understand this Pandemic and its effects on our lives? My maternal grandparents were living in New York City, almost 100 years ago, when the Influenza Pandemic began. I do not remember my grandmother ever talking about that time. [My grandfather died before I was born.] She may have thought I was too young to learn about that deadly time in her home city. I am curious about how life changed for my grandparents and what they thought about the Influenza Pandemic. I did a little research and this is what I have learned.  

On 11 August 1918 a Norwegian vessel steamed into New York City’s harbor. The vessel held 11 crew and 10 passengers infected with a new, aggressive form of influenza. Ambulances were ready to take them to a city hospital. By 24 September 1918 New York City had over 100 new cases. By 4 October 1918 there were 1,000 new cases. People were isolated as much as possible. Schools were kept open to prevent children from gathering in the streets. By 9 October 1918 there were 2,000 new cases. Ten days later there were almost 5,000 new cases. Movie houses and dance halls were closed. A day nursery was set up to care for more than 100 children who could not go home because family members were too ill to care for them. In Queens more than 2,000 bodies of victims were waiting to be buried. Fifty street sweepers were sent to be gravediggers instead.[1]

My maternal grandfather, Nathaniel Gardner, was 36 years old when the influenza began. He had lived in New York City all his life. He worked at the Western Union Telegraph Company where he had worked since he was a boy, delivering messages. By 1918 he was a manager. The Western Union was an essential form of communication throughout the world. Nathaniel lived at 234 West 120thStreet[2]with his father, Leopold, who was a 58-year-old widower; his brother Arthur Moses, who also worked for Western Union; and his sister, Anna who was 18 years old. Did the family read about the Influenza in the newspapers? Was Nathaniel sending telegrams concerned with the disease? 

Nathaniel Gardner, my maternal grandfather

Examination rooms were established at Pennsylvania and Grand Central stations, where a nurse and physician team at each could examine all passengers who arrived feeling ill. Those found to be suffering from influenza were removed to a hospital or put in care of friends and not allowed to continue on public transportation.[3]

4 October 1918, New York City, The Sun

New York City's health commissioner, Dr. Copeland, persuaded businesses to stagger work hours. He distributed fliers and posters explaining the disease and urging people to cover "cover their coughs and sneezes and refrain from spitting."[4]

Nathaniel’s future wife, Helen F. Coyle, was 21 years old. She was the oldest child of Michael and Mary Josephine (Mullane) Coyle. Her parents had been born in Ireland but she and her six younger siblings were all born in New York City. Her youngest sister, Kathleen, was only two years old when the Influenza Pandemic began to impact the city. They all lived at 223 East 113thStreet.[5]Her father was a baker. Did her father’s business suffer during this time? Were her parents worried about their young children contracting this disease? Helen helped her father in the bakery and worked for the Western Union. She had not yet met her future husband. 

Helen F. (Coyle) Gardner, my maternal grandmother

New York City made it through the Pandemic. From 15 September to 16 November 1918 the city experienced 147,000 cases of Influenza and 20,608 deaths.[6]My research has not revealed any Influenza deaths in the Coyle or Gardner families. They were fortunate. 

My research, of course, did not tell me what my grandparents were thinking during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. However, it showed me that they were experiencing many of the same things were are experiencing now. They came through it strong and healthy and I am sure we will too.

[1]University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan. Influenza Encyclopedia; digital image ( accessed March 2020). 
[2]New York City Directory; 1916-1917; A-S; Page 668; New York State Library, Microfilm Box #62, Albany, NY; NOTES: Gardner, Nathan, telegraph operator r234 W120th.
[3]University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan. Influenza Encyclopedia; digital image ( accessed March 2020).
[4][4]History’s Deadly Lessons. (Albany, NY: Times Union, 5 April 2020) D2.
[5]Residences:  New York City Directories from New York State Library, Albany.
1916-17           Box 62             Page 524                      Michael Coyle, baker h 223 E 113th
1918-19           Box 72             Page 647                      Michael Coyle, baker h 223 E 113th
[6]University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan. Influenza Encyclopedia; digital image ( accessed March 2020).

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

April Anniversary: Frederick Lieser & Louiza Gruissy; 1880 OH

Frederick Lieser
c 1855 Germany – 1936 MO

Louiza Gruissy
C 1864 OH – after June 1933
Daughter of Christain Gruissy & Mary Wise

8 April 1880, Stark County, OH
140 Years Ago

Marriage record for Frederick Leaser and Louisa Creasy, 8 April 1880, Stark County Ohio Marriage Records, Volume 9, Page 297, Stark County, Ohio; Stark County District Library, Genealogy Division, 715 Market Avenue North, Canton, Ohio.

Parents of:
Florence Lillian Lieser
Anna Fredericka Lieser
Friedrich Erwin Lieser
Roy Francis Lieser

Other April Anniversaries:

5 April 1931 NY   James McCall & Marion M. Coyle  89 years ago
13 March 1871 OH   John W. Ritter & Ruth Scott   149 years ago
15 March 1922   Eslie Guy Mark & Golda Warner   98 years ago
20 April 1898 OH   William Mark & Elidia Rebecca Ritter   142 years ago
28 March 1858   Allen Moses Brown & Emmaline Smith   162 years ago

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Forget Me Not: John Joseph Brady

John Joseph Brady

26 May 1922 NJ - 7 Dec 1991 MD

Son of Thomas Joseph Brady & Eileen G. Banks

Husband of Carlyle Purcell

World War II Veteran

My 2nd Cousin, 2x removed

John BradyTrappe – John Joseph Brady of Trappe died Saturday, Dec. 7, 1991 at his home. He was 69. Born May 24, 1922 in East Orange, N. J., Mr. Brady is the son of the late Thomas J. and Eileen Banks Brady. He attended St. Benedict’s High School and Seton Hall University. During World War II, he served in the U. S. Army in the European Theatre of Operations. 

A resident of Talbot County since 1960, he was a former president of the Standard Fusee Corporation in Easton, a past president of the National Pyrotechnics Association, a past member of the National Motor Carrier Advisory Committee, the past president of the Talbot County United Fund, a past president of the Memorial Hospital Association, a past member of the Board of Directors of Memorial Hospital at Easton, a past president of the Talbot Country Club and a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club and the Tred Avon Yacht Club. He was also a longtime member of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Easton.

Mr. Brady is survived by his wife, the former, Carlyle Purcell, three sons, Edward P. Brady of Annapolis, John J. Brady, Jr. of Charleston, W. Va., and Capt. Kevin M. Brady, USMC, of Havelock, N. C.; two daughters Sharon B. Raimo of Washington, D. C. and Carlyle Brady of Oxford; a brother, William R. Brady of Brielle, N. J. and eight grandchildren.

Services will be held 11 a. m. Thursday at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Easton. Burial will be in the Oxford Cemetery. Friends may call Wednesday from 7 to 8 p. m. at the Newman Funeral Home in Easton where prayers will be said at 8 p. m.

Memorial donations may be made to the Memorial Hospital Foundation, P. O. Box 1846, Easton or to the Talbot Hospice Foundation, 100 S. Hanson St., Easton, Md. 21601.

The Star-Democrat (Easton, Maryland) · 9 Dec 1991, Mon · Page 5

Friday, April 3, 2020

Vintage Photograph: Thomas K. Mark & grandsons

 Thomas Kenneth Mark

19 July 1879 OH - 12 Feb 1975 OH
Son of William Mark & Elidia Rebecca Ritter
Husband of Nancy Regina Victoria Gruissy

circa 1931

Thomas is standing with two of his grandsons,
both sons of Ivy Regina Mark Brown:
Delbert Keith Brown (my father) & Leo Dwight Brown

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