Lucky me, I have German ancestors on both my maternal and paternal lines! I am currently researching the names SICK and SELL in Schleswig-Holstein, SCHNEIDER in Hessen and KUNDERS (Conard) in North Rhineland - Westphalia. I enjoy doing German research and trying to remember some of the high school German language that I took oh so long ago.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"We all had to wear masks"

From my Grandma's (Dorothy May Snyder) notes:

"While we lived there [Pocatello, Idaho] the Spanish Influenza epidemic came.  School was closed & we all had to wear masks.   My sister Wilma who was secretly married while we lived there was pregnant.  So in the fall of 1918 her husband Frank Ball took her & me up to his ranch out of Inkom thinking she wouldn't get the flu.  The Armistice was signed in Nov. while we were there & Wilma got sick so we came home in a great big wagon.  Wilma was sick & chilling all the way & when we got home she had the flu.  Her baby was born but she [Wilma] died.  Then mother kept the baby, a boy, but he only lived 6 weeks."

I wish that I had the opportunity to ask my Grandma about my great aunt Wilma.  A secret marriage?  Since she was married to Frank Ball, Jr., on March 30th, 1918 and the little one was born November 21, 1918, I suspect Wilma may have known she was pregnant.

Wilma Snyder Ball was buried on November 25, 1918 in Mountain View Cemetery in Pocatello.  Her baby son, Henry Frank Ball, was buried on March 10, 1919 in the same plot. 

I found Frank Ball, Jr., (Wilma’s husband) in the 1920 Pocatello census with his family.  He was only 23 years old and listed as a widower.  How sad that must have been.

Grace and Wilma Snyder
It is too bad that I did not have the chance to ask Grandma Dorothy more about Wilma and the baby, as well as the impact of the Spanish flu in Pocatello. 

Grace holding sister Dorothy; Wilma holding kitten

FYI - There is a really terrific book by John M. Barry, called "The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History." I highly recommend it to anyone who had a family member affected by the flu. It is a good read even if you don't know of anyone directly impacted.


  1. How sad!The pictures in your post are beautiful though!

  2. Very sad! :( I read that book years ago. Excellent. I'll never miss a flu shot after reading it!