How Has Past Pandemics Affected People in Your Family Tree?

The spread of illnesses is not a new thing for Canada or the world for that matter. When I think of it in reference to my own genealogy there are two instances that I recall reading about an ancestor experiencing an pandemic.

John Tipper who was living in Montreal in 1832 was killed by Cholera. John was a blind, retired soldier from the Royal Artillery, here is the brief mention I have of his passing.

John Tipper cholera Christ Church Montreal 17 June 1832

John Tipper of Montreal, pensioner, died on the seventeenth day of June one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two aged sixty-two years and will be buried on the eighteenth following. Christ Church Montreal 17 June 1832

The other link to the Cholera was the reference to an outbreak in the obituary John’s granddaughter Hannah (Jeffery) Norton.

She [Hannah] was of a very charitable disposition, and was always foremost in alleviating suffering and distress. During the period that Quebec was visited with the terrible scourge of cholera, the late Mrs. Norton took a noble and active part in tending to those who were so unfortunate as to be smitten with the dreaded disease, and notwithstanding her unremitting attention to the sufferers, she was fortunate enough to escape it….

Norton, Hannah P Quebec Chronicle Ja 22 1917

Quebec Chronicle Jan 22, 1917

As Hannah was born in 1832 her involvement in treating Cholera patients must have happened in one of the subsequent outbreaks, likely 1851, 1852 or 1854.

A couple of sites where you can read more information is Heritage Passages or the Canadian Encylopedia for more information on the Cholera that hit Quebec.

Have you found connections to family members surviving past pandemics? Maybe now is the time to document our experiences as we live through this unique time.

For me, my journal entry reads, “…who would have thought that in hearing of Covid-19 and its implications, people ran out en masse and bought… toilet paper?”

*featured image free from Pixaby

  2 comments for “How Has Past Pandemics Affected People in Your Family Tree?

  1. March 16, 2020 at 8:21 am

    We’re fortunate in these times to have better tools to fight epidemics, but not everyone will emerge unscathed, of course. The epidemics I run across most in my research are scarlet fever, in which several children in a family die. That is something we don’t dread anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kaythegardener
    March 16, 2020 at 10:13 am

    My 46 year old grandfather died in the 1918-1919 Spanish flu outbreak, I believe.
    My husband’s family lost an aunt who had just given birth a few weeks earlier. She left 6 kids behind including the newborn, who were raised by other relatives.


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