Monday, March 14, 2016

Nellie (Ellen) Anderson McDonald

I have been hard at work trying to make progress on the Anderson line of research. In trying to find more information I started researching the children of Thomas and Catherine Anderson, Sometimes the facts and context of a person's story just grip you, even if they aren't a direct ancestor. 

Peter Anderson was the third son of Thomas and Catherine. He married an Irish girl name Johanna Wall. Together they had a big family. Their oldest daughter, Nellie or also called Ellen, was born in 1879. 

Nellie married Michael Francis McDonald in 1900 in Forest City, Pennsylvania. Michael was a machinist and Nellie was a housewife. Because they lived in Lackawanna County in the Carbondale area, it is very likely that Michael worked for the coal mining companies. 

Nellie and Michael had a huge family. They were the parents of Helen, Joseph, Gerald, Mary, Josephine, Gertrude, Frank, Anna, Florence, Dorothy, and Eleanor Geraldine. I can only imagine that they were very, very busy as a couple. Michael had to work very hard to support his family. Nellie's time would have been completely taken up with being pregnant, nursing babies, cleaning, and cooking. Can you imagine the amount of cooking she would have to do? I can only imagine that her life was really busy and challenging. I hope that it was also happy and that she found joy and delight in her babies. 

Near the end of October 1918, Nellie became very sick. For seven days she battled double pneumonia, and then succumbed. She died on October 30, 1918. It must have been so sad and difficult for her children and husband. 

During October 1918, the Spanish Flu swept through Pennsylvania.  By October 25, 1918, 350,000 people in Pennsylvania had the Spanish influenza. I recently learned that "infections with the pandemic strain generally caused self-limited (rarely fatal) illnesses that enabled colonizing strains of bacteria to produce highly lethal pneumonias." (Deaths from Bacterial Pneumonia during 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic). 

Given the timing of her brief illness and death, I think it is possible that Nellie contracted the Spanish influenza which enabled colonizing strains of bacteria to produce pneumonia. In her case, it was fatal, and she died at the very young age of 39. She was buried at the St. Rose of Lima Cemetery in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. 

It's a sad story, and though it happened almost 100 years ago, I found myself crying a bit as I thought of her family and her life cut short. 

U.S. Federal Census 1880, 1900, 1910
Pennsylvania Death Certificates: 1906-1963
U.S. City Directories: 1822-1995


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