Did Great Aunt Celia Die From the Spanish Flu?

31 Oct

With the Covid pandemic in its second year, I decided to write about my Grandfather’s younger sister who died over 101 years ago.

As I have written in other blogs, much about my paternal grandfather’s family was a mystery.  My Grandmother told me that my Grandfather was the oldest of 6 children, I now know that his mother actually gave birth to 11 children. I now also know that eight siblings that survived to adulthood and that my Grandfather was the second oldest of these eight.  

I know a bit about his one brother (See blog below) and I actually knew one of his five sisters.  (see blog below.) Three sisters and brother I know their names and perhaps some information, but it nothing definite.  I know Muriel married and had two children.  And I know there were two ‘maiden’ aunts.   I know Samuel supposedly went west in the early 1900’s.  But there was one sister that I had absolutely no information about his younger sister Celia.  I did not even have her name, as Celia died before my grandparents became engaged and married.

But now I know Celia.  Born on the Fourth of July in 1895, Celia was five years younger than my grandfather.   But whereas my grandfather lived until he was 95, Celia died when she was just 24 years old on February 6, 1920, from pulmonary edema and pneumonia, which was a major cause of death from the Spanish Flu.

According to Wikipedia, the Spanish Flu continued from February 1918 to April of 1920.  And the CDC website that discusses the Spanish flu has this information: 

“The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.

It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic.”  (The bold high lights are mine.)

By the winter of 1920, the Spanish flu had begun to ebb.  But people were still dying.  One of the symptoms was lungs filling with fluid, pulmonary edema, which killed them.   Was Celia one of the victims of this pandemic?  I might never know, but with the Covid pandemic on my mind, I cannot help but think it was the Spanish Flu that killed my great aunt Celia.  Sadly, a few months after she died the pandemic was officially over. 

Celia is buried in the old Montefiore Cemetery in New York.  She is in the Adath Israel of B’ville section.  I do not think any other members of our family are buried there, or at least any that I have found so far.   Most are buried in Washington Cemetery.  The fact that she is there alone saddens me.

I have not been able to find a picture of her grave online. But I do have the information needed to find it.  I hope one day that I will.  In the meantime, I wonder if my Great Aunt Celia was one of the millions of people who died during the Spanish Flu.  In my heart the answer is yes.

Update: I now have Celia’s Headstone. See the additional Blog for more information.


22 Responses to “Did Great Aunt Celia Die From the Spanish Flu?”

  1. Amy October 31, 2021 at 3:44 pm #

    I assume you haven’t see her death certificate. Have you tried calling the cemetery to get a photo of her gravestone?

    • zicharon October 31, 2021 at 7:32 pm #

      Yes I tried calling and left a message months ago.

  2. Amy October 31, 2021 at 3:49 pm #

    Family Search has the record but no image, but you can order it from the Family History Library: New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WVX-2H5 : 3 June 2020), Celia Rosenberg, 1920.

  3. Amy October 31, 2021 at 3:50 pm #

    Here’s the link to the look up service at the FHL. They will send you an image of the death certificate for free. https://www.familysearch.org/en/family-history-library/family-history-library-records-look-up-service

    • zicharon October 31, 2021 at 7:33 pm #

      Thank You.

      • Amy November 1, 2021 at 8:49 am #

        Good luck!

      • zicharon November 1, 2021 at 9:29 am #

        I will let you know!!!

      • zicharon November 1, 2021 at 9:30 am #

        Omg. I still gave t done the blog book. My family is bugging me. Could you send me the website again.

      • Amy November 1, 2021 at 4:03 pm #

        I use Blogbooker to convert the blog into PDFs, and then I use Lulu to create the books from the PDFs. blogbooker.com and lulu.com

      • zicharon November 1, 2021 at 10:47 pm #

        Thank you. This time I am getting the book or books done!

      • zicharon November 1, 2021 at 4:26 pm #

        OMG. I found her headstone!!! And I also found two of her sisters. One I already had info on, the other I had nothing. I now have her husband’s name and the name of one son!!! Thank you!!!

      • Amy November 2, 2021 at 6:58 am #

        Wonderful! How did you find it?

      • zicharon November 2, 2021 at 7:17 am #

        Through Family Search, they not only had details about Celia including her stone, but I also found out more about two more of my grandfather’s sisters!

      • Amy November 2, 2021 at 10:02 am #

        That’s great!

  4. Sharon November 1, 2021 at 7:41 am #

    Timely posting. It certainly seems possibly that Celia could have been victim of the pandemic.

    • zicharon November 1, 2021 at 1:14 pm #

      I believe so. With the vaccine and modern medicines, this one should/could have been controlled earlier.


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