In my last post on this blog, I posed a theory that my ancestor, Angelo LanFranchi, immigrated to the U.S. in an effort to avoid the draft in the then-Kingdom of Italy. Since I can’t (and won’t) request the original documents from the State Archives of Parma, which has a series titled “Leva Militare,” meaning “military draft,” with a 209 pages of records from the Parma Draft office (1883-1915) due to COVID-19, there is something that I am apt to write during these times: a story about my ancestors and the H1N1 flu pandemic, incorrectly named the “Spanish flu,” which lasted from 1918 to 1920. I would like to focus mainly on Angelo LanFranchi in hopes of answering why he moved, in 1918, from Barre to Avonmore, something which some of my cousins wouldn’t answer because they weren’t sure of the answer themselves, something which is no fault of their own.
As I noted on my last post, Angelo was born in Casola, Parma, in northern Italy, on September 6, 1896, and he came first to Avonmore in 1914 from Italy, where his sisters Barbara and Angelina were living. But, I didn’t tell the other part of the story. Angelo then moved to Barre, Vermont, where he worked as a stone mason, also known as a stone cutter, from at least 1915-1918.  He was living at 408 North Main Street with his sister, Marietta “Marie”, and his brother-in-law (and Marietta’s husband), Giuseppe Berte. Like Angelo, Giuseppe also worked as a stone mason, working for the Kelly Brothers,  while his brother, Dino, also lived in the city, working for the Chioldi Brothers, on 308 North Main Street.  I’ll focus on Dino, Giuseppe, and the others in another post, here is a photograph of where Giuseppe, Marie, and Angelo lived in Barre, a location which is still standing to this day:
While living there, Giuseppe and Marie, who had married sometime before September 1912, would have three children: Lina (b. 1915), Ketri (b. 1913) and Ancilla (b. 1918) as shown in this 1919 photograph below. Lina is on the left side of the picture, Ancilla is in the middle, and Ketri is in the right side of the picture.
In later years, Giuseppe would be a bearer for his sister Ermalinda Berte, at her funeral, as would his brother Dino. He would be living in Barre, Vermont with his wife and two children, saying he needed he needed to stay there for “family support” rather than fight in Europe.  He noted, as an interesting aside to my last post, that he previously fought in the Italian military. Although Giuseppe, Marie, and their family, stayed put in Barre for a few more years, why did Angelo leave? The family story that he left because of dust in the stone mines, which is still a possibility, as a reason he came to Western Pennsylvania. After all, in 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services condluded that ” tiny crystalline rock particles found in granite dust can cause lung cancer,” while OSHA has stated that workers who “inhale very small crystalline silica particles are at risk for silicosis – an incurable, progressively disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease.” This is likely what Angelo was worried about, although they didn’t have a term for that then.
As for the H1N1 flu pandemic, we know it first cropped up in Vermont in late September 1918, hard hitting the state capital of Montpelier and the city of Barre over the next few months.  The crisis peaked from October 15-30, with medical authorities lifting the statewide ban on public gatherings on November 8. This severe pandemic quickly spread across the country, with 50,000 Vermonters sickened by the virus and over 2,100 dying from its complications. One group were affected, group apart from any other: granite workers, whose lungs were already weakened by silicosis, and industries were shut down,  with towns cancelling gatherings and meetings, travel in and out of Vermont banned on October 4.  As the pandemic, then called the “grippe,” leveled out by late 1919, it had torn through the population “like a grassfire.” It often struck without warning, whether running its course over three weeks for some and killing others in three days or less! Many years later, a granite monument was constructed in Barre’s Hope Cemetery to commemorate those that died from the influenza. Ultimately, the flu would affect over 25 percent of the U.S. population, with the average life expectancy in the United States dropped by 12 years as noted by the National Archives.
Due to the fact that infection from the influenza was only reported “after the pandemic began,” reliable data is unavailable currently, meaning that the brevity of the pandemic has to be determined using other information instead. We do know, however, that this pandemic was unique because it killed “many healthy 20- to 40-year-olds,” while those who usually due of the flu are under five or over age 75, with those born in the years around 1889 most vulnerable. Like the current crisis, those who died directly or indirectly from the disease were under-reported, but for a different reason: to support pro-war propaganda during the U.S. war with Germany (World War I) under the Sedition Act of 1918, which prohibited any “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language”about the U.S. armed forces, U.S. government, flag, or anything else deemed “un-patriotic.” While the origin of the H1N1 pandemic continues to be hotly debated, there is no question that the virus was a virulent one, from which most patients recovering after having a 3-5 day fever, although those affected were often worn down by the flu which attacked the lungs, caused terrible pains, delirium, high fever, and nausea, with people often dying from pneumonia. This unique virus hit New England hard, killing thousands, including 9,500 in the state of New York alone. While it is hard to know if Avonmore was like the communities across the U.S. that escaped the H1N1 virus, such as Fletcher, Vermont, the state of Pennsylvania was hard hit, especially Philadelphia.  Pittsburgh, only 33 and 1/2 miles from Avonmore, as the crow flies, originally dismissed mild cases of the disease, first reported by local papers on October 1, with hundreds of cases of influenza within a couple days, trying to take strains off hospitals by asking for people to care for the sick at home. There were over 4,400 cases by October 16, jumping to over 7,500 only a few days later. As the article on the Influenza Encyclopedia, put together by the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and University of Michigan Library, gives some further notes about the state of the population:
By late-October, Pittsburgh residents were starting to get anxious over when the closure orders and gathering ban might be lifted. Saloon owners and wholesale liquor distributors were particularly eager to have state Health Commissioner Royer rescind his orders…Although Babcock failed in his attempt to have the bans lifted immediately, Royer offered hope they would be lifted in Allegheny County shortly so long as the infection rate continued to decline…Taking Batt’s report into consideration, on November 1 Royer announced that Pittsburgh might be allowed to reopen its places of amusement as early as November 4. Residents, and especially affected business owners, sighed in collective relief. Overnight, Pittsburgh’s great expectations were dashed when Royer abruptly announced that Pittsburgh would not be allowed to reopen until November 9…An industrial powerhouse with a large population, Royer dared not try to isolate the Steel City, especially during wartime. Instead, he issued a statement condemning the city’s actions as an invitation to lawlessness and disorder…Ultimately, Royer held true to his promise to lift the state-ordered bans on November 9…Other than these restrictions, Pittsburgh was once again free to return to life as usual [by late November]…Pittsburgh continued to experience cases of influenza and pneumonia throughout the rest of the winter…Overall, Pittsburgh experienced the worst epidemic of any major city in the United States. The average death rate for Eastern cities was 555 per 100,000. By contrast, Pittsburgh’s excess death rate was a whopping 807 per 100,000 people. The Steel City’s ordeal with influenza was even deadlier than that of Philadelphia (748) or Boston (710), two communities where influenza ran rampant in the fall of 1918. Despite advance warning and preparation, organized local leadership, and efficient allocation of resources, Pittsburgh fared horribly during the crisis…It is also possible that Pittsburgh’s high death rate was in part due to the city’s notoriously poor air quality during the time…Combined with the delay in closing schools, Pittsburgh’s pollution may have contributed to the severity of its bout with influenza in 1918.
That brings us to the question about my ancestor, Angelo. I need not read an epidemiologic study or survey of the of the influenza to ask if this crisis affected him. The below draft card, dated June 5, 1918, lists his address as “Waterman Box 54 PA,” birthplace as Parma, employer is J & C.C & J Co. in Waterman, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. He also lists his nearest relative as is mother, Adelaide in Casola, Parma, Italy, and is noted as not currently a US citizen. 
This record means that Angelo did not flee Barre to move to Avonmore, immediately, at least, with Waterman about 24 miles away from the town. While the CDC’s timeline for the H1N1 influenza notes that in March, “outbreaks of flu-like illness are first detected in the United States,” spreading sporadically across the U.S., Asia, and Europe over the six months to follow. It also notes that a second wave hit the U.S. between September and November, which was “highly fatal, and responsible for most of the deaths attributed to the pandemic.” In the spring and winter of 1919, there was a third wave of influenza which kills may others, subsiding in the summer. For Pennsylvania, it first began to take root in the state in September 1918, and as the PA Department of Health noted,
Unlike seasonal flu, which mostly threatens the health of the very young and elderly, the Spanish Flu caused serious illness and death in otherwise young, healthy people…The Spanish Flu pandemic affected almost every part of American society. With one-quarter of the US infected, it was impossible to escape from the illness. As the disease spread, schools and businesses emptied. Telephone, mail, and garbage collection services stopped as workers became ill and could not do their jobs.
Furthermore, from October 1918 onward, the flu roared through Western Pennsylvania, sickening tens of thousands in Allegheny and Westmoreland County, with 2,000 dying in Westmoreland County alone.  Since Avonmore sits on the edge of Westmoreland County, Angelo was lucky he didn’t die from the flu, part of one of the many families in the state which were affected by the pandemic, with the context of how your ancestors survived the pandemic likely described in newspaper accounts.
While there are, sadly, no original records of noting how Angelo, his immediate or extended family, dealt with the pandemic and their thoughts at the time, there is no doubt that it affected him and those nearby in ways that he probably couldn’t imagine. In order to understand, fully, why Angelo ended up in Avonmore, its important to first look back at what was happening in Barre, involving the Bertes, Chioldis, and many other interconnected families, which will be focus of either the next or an upcoming post on this blog.
 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Barre, Vermont, City Directory, 1917, p. 92; Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Barre, Vermont, City Directory, 1916, p. 92; Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Barre, Vermont, City Directory, 1915, p. 94; Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Barre, Vermont, City Directory, 1918, p. 107; Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Barre, Vermont, City Directory, 1914, p. 93. The 1914 city directory does not list him, but could either because he arrived early in 1914 and the city directory is issued early that year, or because he wasn’t living in Barre until 1915. In all of these records, he is listed as “Lanfranchi, Angelo.” His January 13, 1915 Declaration of Intention to becoming a U.S. citizen rightly describes some of his particulars (five foot 7, blue eyes, brown hair, 160 pounds, born in Parma, Italy) and the ship he came on are correct, but it incorrectly states he was living at 405 North Main Street in Barre, when he actually only lived at 408 Main Street during his time in the city.
 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Barre, Vermont, City Directory, 1916, p. 41, 230-231
 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Barre, Vermont, City Directory, 1915, p. 36.
 Registration State: Vermont; Registration County: Washington; Roll: 1984100 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.
 Feeney, Vincent. “Spanish Flu Hit Vermont Hard in 1918.” Burlington Free Press. September 18, 2015. https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2015/09/18/spanish-flu-vermont-1918/32561715/; Bushnell, Mark. “Then Again: In an age before antibiotics, a killer epidemic struck Vermont.” Vermont Digger. March 8, 2020. https://vtdigger.org/2020/03/08/then-again-in-an-age-before-antibiotics-a-killer-epidemic-struck-vermont/; “History of 1918 Flu Pandemic.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 21, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm; “Pandemic flu preparedness.” Vermont Department of Health. State Government of Vermont, January 22, 2020. https://www.healthvermont.gov/immunizations-infectious-disease/influenza/pandemic-preparedness.
 Frederick, Keith. “Workforce Continuity During a Pandemic: Is Your Business Ready?” Disaster Recovery Journal, February 6, 2020. https://drj.com/journal/workforce-continuity-during-a-pandemic-is-your-business-ready/. As the Disaster Recovery Journal notes, “during a pandemic, absenteeism rates can climb to as high as 20-50 percent due to employee illness, caring for sick family members, fear of contagion, or lack of medical, public, or transportation resources.” Although this is referring to what could happen in the present, back in 1918, the absenteeism rates were likely higher.
 Feeney, Vincent. “Spanish Flu Hit Vermont Hard in 1918.” Burlington Free Press. September 18, 2015. https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2015/09/18/spanish-flu-vermont-1918/32561715/; Viglienzoni, Cat. “Terrible times: Remembering the 1918 flu pandemic’s impact on Vermont.” WCAX3. March 27, 2020. https://www.wcax.com/content/news/Terrible-times-Remembering-the-1918-flu-pandemics-impact-on-Vermont-569164611.html; Picard, Ken. “Recalling the Flu Pandemic of 1918.” Seven Days Vermont. February 28, 2018. https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/recalling-the-flu-pandemic-of-1918/Content?oid=13143570; Thibault, Amanda. “This Place in History: 1918 Flu Pandemic.” mychamplainvalley.com. November 15, 2018. https://www.mychamplainvalley.com/news/this-place-in-history-1918-flu-pandemic/; Brundage, John F., and G. Dennis Shanks. “What Really Happened during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic? The Importance of Bacterial Secondary Infections.” The Journal of Infectious Diseases 196, no. 11 (December 1, 2007). https://doi.org/10.1086/522355. The Feeney post is an excerpt from his book “Burlington: A History of Vermont’s Queen City.”
 Gray, Richard. “The places that escaped the Spanish flu.” BBC News. October 24, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181023-the-places-that-escaped-the-spanish-flu; Almond, Douglas. “Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long‐Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post‐1940 U.S. Population.” Journal of Political Economy 114, no. 14 (August 2006). https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/507154.
 Pennsylvania; Registration County: Indiana; Roll: 1893240; Draft Board: 2; Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005; United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.
 One local historian, Thomas Soltis, even wrote a 23-page bound book titled “The 1918 Influenza Pandemic,” published by the Westmoreland Historical Society. There is also a slightly cheaper digital copy.