The Last Pandemic … 1918 — #Genealogy, #Polish, #War

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Block_A week ago Stanczyk wrote about Cholera and its 5th Pandemic. This week I was searching for ‘Status Animarum‘ (Latin for ‘State of the Souls’). That is a type of church census. Often these censuses include three generations. I stopped in a list of Google results. I stopped for Cleveland’s St. Stanislaus’ 1918 Status Animarum.

Now Stanczyk has a branch of the family in Cleveland and at the St Stanislaus parish. 1918 was the tail end of World War I. It was also the main year of the last epidemic,  … the flu,  sometime called the Spanish Flu. More people died from the flu than from the war. Pestilence won again. I am sure war had something to do with the pestilence and people weakened immune systems.

World War I was different then almost all other wars in US history. We had citizens training and fighting in two armies against a common enemy. You had Polish-Americans serving in the US Army and you had Polish Americans serving in the French colors (Blue Army), Polish-led (General Haller), Canadian-trained, with men from the USA who were Polish ethnically. So a world war and pestilence both ran amok.

This Status Animarum was not the kind like in European parishes that listed two-three family generations and their home, census-like. This was a Status Animarum Report — summarized at the parish level …

1918_Cleveland_StStanislaus_pg1 1918_Cleveland_StStanislaus_pg2

Blessedly, with about one thousand men serving in the military (3/4 USA, 1/4 Polish) and the Flu Pandemic, only 18 men had died!

  1.8%  

Statistically, Cleveland’s St. Stanislaus had lucked out. The other statistic, 25% of the men served in Haller’s Army (aka the Blue Army). This device allowed the US men to have a presence in the World War, before the USA was ready … emotionally to end its isolationism and enter the war itself. I wonder if this percentage held true in all Polish parishes in the USA?

What desperate times were those? And yet, is today not like a hundred years ago? We shall see. It has been nearly a century since the last pandemic. Will the Chinese bird-flu be the next pandemic? Time will tell. Certainly, there is plenty of warfare about the globe and plenty of sabre rattling.

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