Pandemics: We continue to deal with the Coronavirus, our ancestors suffered from the Spanish flu

17 04 2020

Coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all today, some much worse than others. A 100 years ago the world was dealing with another pandemic, the Spanish flu. The estimates vary, however, a commonly used death estimate is 50 million people worldwide. Sweden was affected very hard with 34,500 people died during the first year (reference: Geni.com). Here are 2 stories of how the Spanish flu pandemic affected our ancestors:

Paul Fanlund’s article: A century ago, a pandemic devastated my ancestors.

SAHSWI member Mary Haarmann advised us about an article written by Paul Fanlund in the Capital Times newspaper (reference Madison.com) about his Grandfather Julius Fanlund who emigrated from Sweden in 1914, and how his family in Sweden suffered from the Spanish Flu in 1918. The headline of the article “A century ago, a pandemic devastated my ancestors.” One brother and two sisters died in the flue within 5 days.

Bev Wenzel’s story “The presence of pandemics in our family”

Membership Secretary for SAHSWI, Bev Wenzel, remembers her own family’s hardship with the Spanish Flu. Her grandparents lost one daughter to the flu, after already having lost three sons. The stories have an interesting connection: Bev’s father, Erik Olson, who emigrated in 1926, and Julius Fanlund came from the same area in Sweden, Erik from Rönås, and Julius from Slagesnäs, both small villages near the town of Kyrkhult, Blekinge, in the South of Sweden.

Kyrkhult is located in the south of Sweden in Blekinge, press the “local map” below and see the locations of Rönås and Slagesnäs, close to Kyrkhult.

Local map

Your Story

Do you have a connecting experience of your Swedish ancestors and the Spanish flu or today with the Coronavirus pandemic. If you want we can share your story on the http://www.SAHSWI.org website, if interested please submit your story to jehrengren@outlook.com.