Tuesday, April 24, 2018

History’s Worst Flu Epidemic Hit The Niehaus Family

    Winter months often bring the flu into families, passing from one to another until it leaves the household finally and everyone’s functioning normally again.  These past few months have been that way for many families.  In fact, my husband and I are fresh from episodes of body aches, head colds and coughing.  It was no fun, but we’re on the other side now and resting better. 
     However, we know that thousands have died in this latest flu season, as they do each year.   The body’s reaction when the flu virus attacks is to fight it off.  Sometimes when your immune system is already flagging under the weight of a viral infection, bacteria already existing in the body can spread to the lungs and take hold. This secondary infection is called pneumonia.  Pneumonia is often the eventual cause of death when the flu is the initial culprit.  We read each year the warnings about the latest flu virus and the urgings to be vaccinated.  This year, both of us in this household got our flu shots.  Maybe we would have been even more ill if we hadn’t.  Who knows?!
     The risk of a flu tragedy is definitely one that should garner attention in any family.  History’s worst flu epidemic occurred 100 years ago and killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide.  This flu strain was a bit unusual in that it attacked young adults in their twenties, people whom flu more rarely kills. One of those young adults was Louise Albers Niehaus, a twenty-five year old mother of four and my paternal grandmother. Louise and her son Walter, seven months old, were victims of the third wave of this deadly epidemic that began in 1918, finally ebbing out in spring 1919. Louise and Walter Niehaus died three days apart in February of 1919 and the cause of death for each of them was broncho pneumonia.  Louise died in the Indianapolis City Hospital three days after admission.  Walter died at their home at 1123 Keystone Avenue. This mother and son share a grave at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Their burial permits are posted below.)  The story is told in the family that Walter was buried in Louise’s arms.   It must have been an agonizing time for my grandfather, John, and his other children, 7 year old Charlotte, 4 year old Robert and 2 year old Frank, my father.  
Burial Permits, Louise and Walter Niehaus, 1919 

     This is a tragic and momentous event that shaped my Niehaus family history dramatically. I’ve been told by those who knew Louise that she was a loving and gentle person. Never having known Louise or Walter I can only imagine how they would have played roles in the lives of not only my grandfather, my aunt and uncle and my father, but all of us who have followed.   I hope that writing about these two family members who were struck down much too soon in their lives recognizes their part in this complicated world.
     If you have more of the life stories of Louise and Walter Niehaus to share, let's do so.  Send me a message!
      Thank you for visiting Indiana Ties,

Copyright © 2018, Nancy Niehaus Hurley
     There are literally volumes written about the 1918 Flu Pandemic.  Could it happen again?   Where and how it started.  What might have caused the three waves of this strain.  There is research relating to the cultural contributions to the severity of this outbreak.  and on and on…..  An interesting piece of information contained in The Smithsonian Magazine article of November 2017 is about the government’s role in keeping people from recognizing and dealing with the flu epidemic.   Here’s a few sections of that article and I am posting a link to the full piece along with others at the bottom of this page.
Excerpts from The Smithsonian Magazine, November 2017:
Initially the 1918 pandemic set off few alarms, chiefly because in most places it rarely killed, despite the enormous numbers of people infected. Doctors in the British Grand Fleet, for example, admitted 10,313 sailors to sick bay in May and June, but only 4 died. It had hit both warring armies in France in April, but troops dismissed it as “three-day fever.” The only attention it got came when it swept through Spain, and sickened the king; the press in Spain, which was not at war, wrote at length about the disease, unlike the censored press in warring countries, including the United States. Hence it became known as “Spanish flu.” By June influenza reached from Algeria to New Zealand. Still, a 1927 study concluded, “In many parts of the world the first wave either was so faint as to be hardly perceptible or was altogether lacking...and was everywhere of a mild form.” Some experts argued that it was too mild to be influenza.
Yet there were warnings, ominous ones. Though few died in the spring, those who did were often healthy young adults—people whom influenza rarely kills.
In fact, it was more like a great tsunami that initially pulls water away from the shore—only to return in a towering, overwhelming surge. In August, the affliction resurfaced in Switzerland in a form so virulent that a U.S. Navy intelligence officer, in a report stamped “Secret and Confidential,” warned “that the disease now epidemic throughout Switzerland is what is commonly known as the black plague, although it is designated as Spanish sickness and grip.”
The second wave had begun.
What proved even more deadly was the government policy toward the truth. When the United States entered the war, Woodrow Wilson demanded that “the spirit of ruthless brutality...enter into the very fibre of national life.” So he created the Committee on Public Information, which was inspired by an adviser who wrote, “Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms....The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false.”
At Wilson’s urging, Congress passed the Sedition Act, making it punishable with 20 years in prison to “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United State...or to urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of any thing or things...necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war.” Government posters and advertisements urged people to report to the Justice Department anyone “who spreads pessimistic stories...cries for peace, or belittles our effort to win the war.”
Against this background, while influenza bled into American life, public health officials, determined to keep morale up, began to lie.
Across the country, public officials were lying. U.S. Surgeon General Rupert Blue said, “There is no cause for alarm if precautions are observed.” New York City’s public health director declared “other bronchial diseases and not the so-called Spanish influenza...[caused] the illness of the majority of persons who were reported ill with influenza.” The Los Angeles public health chief said, “If ordinary precautions are observed there is no cause for alarm.”
In Goldsboro, North Carolina, Dan Tonkel recalled, “We were actually almost afraid to breathe...You were afraid even to go out...The fear was so great people were actually afraid to leave their homes...afraid to talk to one another.” In Washington, D.C., William Sardo said, “It kept people apart...You had no school life, you had no church life, you had nothing...It completely destroyed all family and community life...The terrifying aspect was when each day dawned you didn’t know whether you would be there when the sun set that day.”
Then, as suddenly as it came, influenza seemed to disappear. It had burned through the available fuel in a given community. An undercurrent of unease remained, but aided by the euphoria accompanying the end of the war, traffic returned to streets, schools and businesses reopened, society returned to normal.
A third wave followed in January 1919, ending in the spring. This was lethal by any standard except the second wave, and one particular case would have an exceptional impact on history.
On April 3, 1919, during the Versailles Peace Conference, Woodrow Wilson collapsed. His sudden weakness and severe confusion halfway through that conference—widely commented upon—very possibly contributed to his abandoning his principles. The result was the disastrous peace treaty, which would later contribute to the start of World War II. Some historians have attributed Wilson’s confusion to a minor stroke. In fact, he had a 103 degree temperature, intense coughing fits, diarrhea and other serious symptoms. A stroke explains none of the symptoms. Influenza, which was then widespread in Paris and killed a young aide to Wilson, explains all of them—including his confusion. Experts would later agree that many patients afflicted by the pandemic influenza had cognitive or psychological symptoms. As an authoritative 1927 medical review concluded, “There is no doubt that the neuropsychiatric effects of influenza are profound...hardly second to its effect on the respiratory system.”
After that third wave, the 1918 virus did not go away, but it did lose its extraordinary lethality, partly because many human immune systems now recognized it and partly because it lost the ability to easily invade the lungs. No longer a bloodthirsty murderer, it evolved into a seasonal influenza.
Scientists and other experts are still asking questions about the virus and the devastation it caused, including why the second wave was so much more lethal than the first. Researchers aren’t certain, and some argue that the first wave was caused by an ordinary seasonal influenza virus that was different from the pandemic virus; but the evidence seems overwhelming that the pandemic virus had both a mild and virulent form, causing mild as well as severe spring outbreaks, and then, for reasons that remain unclear, the virulent form of the virus became more common in the fall.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/journal-plague-year-180965222/#HPp53km59dzrLysx.99
Ten Myths About the 1918 Flu Pandemic ---https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-myths-about-1918-flu-pandemic-180967810/

Richard Gunderman, Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University

How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/journal-plague-year-180965222/

The ‘greatest pandemic in history’ was 100 years ago – but many of us still get the basic facts wrong:  http://theconversation.com/the-greatest-pandemic-in-history-was-100-years-ago-but-many-of-us-still-get-the-basic-facts-wrong-89841

Other Indiana Ties posts you may want to read:  
Ladies In My Line: Louise Charlotte Albers Niehaushttp://www.indianaties.com/2012/06/ladies-in-my-line-louise-charlotte.html
Walter Johnnie Niehaus: http://www.indianaties.com/2016/06/we-didnt-even-know-he-had-middle-name.html

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Mom’s Plastic Wallet Photo Holder

Rosemary Weber Niehaus, Martha Niehaus, Linda Niehaus, Nancy Niehaus    Are you the same way I am about the meanings or feelings connected with a few items that have no monetary value?   Maybe they remind you of an event, such as a visit with someone special.  Or there’s  somehow a lasting attachment to a family member. 
     Well, I don’t have very many of these types of keepsakes.  But the ones I do have are fantastic at conjuring up memories.  In order to bring me back into the swing of my family history writing after quite a while of disconnection here, I’m revisiting some of these treasures.   
     The item I’ve chosen gets directly into that nostalgic realm  --  my mom’s plastic wallet photo holder.  Do you recall having one of these in your wallet? I do.  But who knows where mine got to.  But fortunately, I have the one belonging to Rosemary Ethel Weber Niehaus.   My mom carried these photos below in her purse for many years.  They are all photos of her children, my brother, my two sisters and me. There’s a myriad of stories in this little packet that folds into the size to be carried in her wallet.  
     She kept these photos close by.  And, of course, they were each marked with names and years.  Some even have writing on the front, as she was known to do occasionally.  Here we are below  in various stages of our youth and young adulthood, approximately 1942 through 1968.  Rose had these special photos until her death in 2001.  The photo on the bottom right (sideways color shot)  is Mom with her three daughters at Christmas 1966, the photo featured at the top of this post.

     Rosemary Weber Niehaus Wallet Photos, her children
    Rosemary Weber Niehaus Wallet Photos
     It’s fun thinking of the many, many stories wrapped up in each one of these folds, especially Mom’s cherishing the memories.  Realizing that storing photos in plastic can be destructive, I removed them to scan them into my digital archives.   But, for now anyway, they need to stay just where they are.  There’s so much more history that’s going on with them in this format.

     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

     Copyright © 2018, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Sunday, January 14, 2018

More Risch Family Connections --- A Surprise Cousin Emerges From My Childhood

     My latest cousin connection has an extra layer of curiosity.  A few weeks ago I was contacted through email by someone who found family history at Indiana Ties that he thought linked us together.  That alone is always reason for excitement.  But then I read on further in his message to find that we had really been connected many years ago in another way.  Joe reminded me of his name and that we had attended St. Roch’s  elementary school on Indianapolis’s south side together.  He gave me the family connection that made us 3rd cousins through Mathias Risch and Julianna Leppert.  Well knock me over!  All those years in the classroom together and we never had any inkling we were related.
    Of course, the messages have been flying back and forth between us.  We’re having a great time sharing stories and photos and talking through our knowledge.  There are family stories that Joe has passed along and some he’s still gathering from living individuals.   I plan to write them down for anyone who would be interested.  This Risch line is very large and I know there are others out there who would enjoy the history as much as we do. 
     For now, I thought I would share this wonderful family photo that Cousin Joe was kind enough to forward to me.  The lady in the center is Caroline Risch Busald, my great grand aunt and Joe’s great grandmother.  Her husband, Frank Busald, is seated on her left.  The entire family group is listed under the photo.  I believe this photo is taken around 1910 – 1915, judging from the ages of the family members.  Frank and Caroline moved from the farm in Dearborn County to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1914.  Maybe that was the occasion when they decided to get everyone together for the family photo.
Frank & Caroline Risch Busald family, Dearborn County, Indiana and Indianapolis, Indiana, about 1914

Busald Family
Front row, left to right:  Clara Busald Strack, Caroline Risch Busald, Frank Busald, Julia Busald, Joseph Busald
Back Row: Addie Busald Wetli, Michael Busald, Elizabeth Busald Volz, Samuel Busald, Mary Busald Willett, Albert Busald, Flora Busald

     If you are another Risch cousin happening onto this family history, we'd love to hear from you.  Send me an email at nancyhurley1 at gmail.com.   Join the crowd!
Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Past 2002 – Wow! How Could It Be 15 Years? --- Wordless Wednesday Almost

2002 Christmas, Sisters: Linda May, Nancy Hurley, Marti Fleetwood

       I’m in that mode…reflecting with wonderment at the number of years that have passed as I sort through the multitude of old photos on my computer. Yes, it's the same old tune....yada, yada, yada. You know how it goes.  I’ll just take a few minutes to find a couple of photos to share at our family gathering. Then, the next thing you know the sun’s going down and your still “sorting.”
            So now, of course, I have another folder and too many ideas for using this group of photos.  Anyway, I'll get started by a selection for Wordless Wednesday (Almost).  Appropriately, I'm going 15 years ago to Christmas 2002 with my two sisters: Linda, Nancy and Martha.   We were enjoying our time at our annual holiday get-together. They'll be glad to see us all.💗😏

     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Copyright © 2017, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Expanding the Keen, Kraut, Kunkel and Kaufmann Family Connections With Church Records

     In my Keen, Elizabeth, Tombstoneearlier posts on Kraut Family Research I was so psyched to have found the church marriage record online of Elizabeth Kraut and Lawrence Keen in Baltimore, Maryland on 20 June 1847.  And OHHHH how those records brought abundantly fruitful family expansions. It’s time to elaborate on how those church records went even further in growing this family history.         Keen, Lawrence, Grave
     First Strong Hint:  Anton Kunkel is listed as a witness for the marriage of Elizabeth and Lawrence at St. Alphonsus church in 1847.  Since I had seen the Kunkel name before in a record, I knew I should go further investigating a possible family connection.   In the naturalization record for Lawrence Keen that I located last year,  a person named Anna Maria Kunkel was the witness. He had a sister named Anna Maria, but that’s all I had at that time.   And that’s why the Anton Kunkel name on Lawrence’s marriage record lit the light bulb for me.   From these two records,  I suspected that Anton Kunkel is married to Lawrence’s sister, Anna Maria Keen.   But I needed to find more back up for this family tie to be confirmed.  That’s how these church records assisted.
     More Interesting Hints:   As I combed through the Catholic church records posted online in Baltimore, I ran into multiple baptismal records at the St. James Catholic Church that contain the surnames Kunkel and Keen (with various surname spellings).  The family relationships started to fit into place and provide more cement for building this piece of the family structure.  Posted here are the baptisms in 1844 – 1846  that bring together these Kunkels with the Keens, as well as Kaufmanns.  I’ve created a chart that lists the four baptisms for Friedrich Lorenz Kaufmann, Antonius Kunkel, Joannes Kunkel and Anna Maria Kaufmann. 
Baptisms, Keen, Kunkel, Kaufmann, Baltimore, MD
     The Tangled Web: These church records have resulted in a tremendous web of family ties that would be frustrating if they weren’t so wonderfully helpful.  If anyone takes the time to read them on this posted report they might see that Lorenz Kihn (Lawrence Keen) is the sponsor for Friedrich and Antonius, who are children of Susanna Kihn and Anna Maria Kihn respectively.  These are Lawrence’s two sisters.  The brave reader would also find that Susanna Kaufmann is the sponsor for John Kunkel, son of Anton Kunkel and A. M. Kien.  And lastly, Anna Maria Kunkel is the sponsor for Anna Maria, daughter of Susanna Kihn Kaufmann.  Perfect examples of family ties!

Baptisms, Keen, Kunkel, Kaufmann, Baltimore, MD., 1844 - 1846


     As I said, this information could result in some confusion, maybe screaming, if the result wasn’t so great. The discovery of the Catholic church records online in Baltimore, Maryland, was a leap ahead for my family research.   With these revealing  segments of life I believe I have woven strong ties in the Keen, Kraut, Kunkel and Kaufmann families in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1840s.  Now I’ll be tracking them all to see how many of them migrate west to Ohio and Indiana with Lawrence and Elizabeth Keen.
   Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Kraut Keen Marriage source: Archdiocese of Baltimore City, MD (Baltimore, MC), Church Registers, 1847 Marriages, page 10, Marriage, Lorenz Kihn, Elizabeth Kraut, 20 June 1847; FHL microfilm MdHr M1598, MdHr, M1598.
Link to Baltimore, Maryland, Catholic Church records online:  https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Baltimore_(Independent_City),_Maryland#Online

Copyright © 2017, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Internet Archives Brings Us Voice of Will Rogers & More…. Treasure Chest Thursday

     I recently meandered down a path on a somewhat-indirect-but-intriguing journey while reading my family research related emails.  You see, Internet Archive has a newsletter with enticing tidbits that make you want to go see
Will Rogerswhat the story is behind each subject introduced.  And before you know it you’re exploring their collections.  I feel as though you open a treasure chest of information each time you visit.  So I’m bringing a short Treasure Chest Thursday note here to share another piece of the website that’s so rich with historical resources.
     On my latest trip into these intriguing archives,  I found myself listening to old recordings and discovered several witty Will Rogers sound bites.  There I was mesmerized in the 1920s and 30s.  Probably the fact that my Mom was a big admirer of his played a role in my curiosity.  Just one very brief example of what I found is in the link below to his brief, but entertaining,  “address to bankers” upon their gathering for a convention in 1924.  Somehow in his humorous comments he winds together bootleggers, congress and vice presidents.  Not only was the rhetoric somewhat ironic to the politics and general public feelings of today, but I thought it even closer to home perhaps.  While hearing the actual unique tenor of Will Rogers witty insights, I couldn’t help but wonder what my mother would’ve been thinking since her father, Harry L. Weber, was a banker during this time frame and beyond.  But, of course, Harry wasn’t of the ilk mentioned!
     Will Rogers persona was completely unguarded and transparent.  He summed up his personal philosophy this way: “Live your life so that whenever you lose you are ahead.”  (His statement in July, 1931. Quoted in the book “Will Rogers Says” that’s also available through Internet Archive’s website.) 
     This website has thousands of choices for browsing in text, audio, video and images.  That’s where I found the photo of Will above as well.  The recordings I referred to earlier include this link to “Will Rogers Talks To The Bankers.”  Another very entertaining and interesting overall philosophical Rogers collection is included in these 18 recordings where he gives his views on many issues and circumstances, such as, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”  
     So, I’ll make this a short post for today since there’s a mess of places I have yet to visit in that storehouse at Internet Archive.

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Copyright © 2017, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Surprise Weber Photo Shared By Generous Cousins -- Wordless Wednesday Almost

     I’m grateful for my cousins who are generous in their sharing of photos of our Weber family.  At our reunion this summer I was given this beautiful wedding photo that turned out to have an extra bonus. 
     Several of us were sitting around the family history table soaking up photo albums owned by cousins Janet Weber Jenkins and Carole Ditlinger Greer.  Well, one of the photos kept falling out on the table, and then eventually on the ground.  Janet and Carole decided that I should have that photo.    The identification said “Lieland Wedding.”  We all knew the name referred to the wedding of Mary Stella Weber and John Lieland in 1921.  But the individuals weren’t listed on the photo.  So, of course, I gladly saved the photo in my box and returned home to do the research in my files.  Well, a pleasant surprise soon popped up.  I was reminded that my mother, Rosemary Weber, was the lovely little flower girl standing  on the right in the front row.  Lieland Wedding, John Lieland, May Weber, 1921
    The handsome group posing for this wedding that took place in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Indianapolis, on 6 Sept 1921, are:
    First row: Fern Grace Lieland, May Stella Weber, bride;
   Lillian Weber, sister of bride; Rosemary Weber, niece of bride.
   Back row: Herbert Weber, brother of bride; John Lieland, groom; Clarence Weber, brother of bride; Leonard Paetz, cousin of bride

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Copyright © 2017, Nancy Niehaus Hurley