Hearing about the current shortage of the H1N1 flu vaccine, I’m reminded of the fact that this is not by any stretch the first nor the most severe flu epidemic in our country’s history. My great grandfather, Fredrich Walz was one of the many victims of the Spanish Influenza in 1918. In an earlier post, I mentioned how the Walz family came to America in 1905 from Russia. They settled in Freeman, SD where Fredrich was a horse breeder.
As I was preparing for this post I went to the website of the Freeman Courier where the headline ironically reads, “Fighting the Flu”. My grandmother, Emma (Walz) Niesl was only 5 years old when her father died. I have a filmed interview of her conducted by my aunt Sandie (Niesl) Patten. In this interview, my grandmother talks about her memories of her father’s untimely death. Tragically, her mother Sophia (Bischke) Walz also passed away at an early age. My grandmother lost both parents by the age of 13, but was taken in by family members in Milwaukee.