One of the most important things we can be grateful for is the gift of good health. Not everyone is so fortunate, but my DNA health inheritance has been predominantly healthy. Those health issues which I have had to deal with have been responsive to good medical care – how very grateful we can be in Australia to have an excellent health system. It may have some glitches, but it’s available to everyone – another source for gratitude.
I’ll tell you what I’m grateful for, and that’s the clarity of understanding that the most important things in life are health, family and friends, and the time to spend on them. Kenneth Branagh, Irish actor.
Health is the hot topic of the moment as the world responds to the covid-19 pandemic. With a collaborative political strategy and increasingly, a sound community response, Australia seems to be flattening the curve, touch wood. One of the sacrifices we’re making is forfeiting gatherings with family and friends – what a “knees up” we’ll have when it’s all over.
All of which evokes the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919, also called the “Spanish flu”. Of course I looked at my own ancestors to see how they were affected.
Ancestors and the “Spanish flu”
Two of my women ancestors died during this period but because of their age, it’s hard to be sure whether the Spanish flu had been a factor. Mary O’Brien Kunkel died at the Fifteen Mile in January 1919 and the cause of death on her certificate was “old age”. Mary was about 83 years old and she had not seen a doctor.
Hannah Partridge nee Kent died in Ipswich on 13 December 1918 of acute pneumonia which she’d had for four days. The doctor had seen her on 12 December but it’s possible that the diagnosis was general. Hannah was 82 years old.
Thanks again to Trove, I learned that my great-grandparents’ railway house in Hughenden was used as Infection Ward 1 during the Spanish flu. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to follow the story forward to learn any more, such as where Peter and Mary McSherry lived during this period, surely not in the Isolation Hospital? In the image below I suspect the higher house might be the one referred to as Mr McSherry’s house ie the #1 Infection Ward because of other references that it was near the shunting yards. When the world returns to normal again, I really need to prioritise seeing what I might discover in the Queensland State Archives about the hospital and the ward.
Cause of death and longevity
Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless without it. Lucius Annaeus, Seneca, Roman statesman.
Helen Smith of Dragon Genealogy always emphasises the benefits of doing a health chart for your ancestors with causes of death and the person’s age. Have you ever done one for your family? I wrote mine up a while ago and you can read my blog post here. I’m pretty lucky to have a heavy weighting of longevity in my tree, so I’m not quite ready to be an expendable elderly or “vintage” casualty of covid-19.
Have you been fortunate with your health inheritance?
Quotes from https://www.brainyquote.com