149 – Newton Got Pneumonia

In 1899, Newton and Anna had been married for ten years. They were living near Aaron and Sugar Branch in Switzerland County.

Aaron and Sugar Branch – Switzerland County, Indiana

Newton’s daughters from his first marriage to Sarah were Arminta and Myrtle. Arminta, 20, was living in Cincinnati. Myrtle,15, may have been living with grandparents Joseph and Martha in Rising Sun.

Newton and Anna’s sons were Elmer, 10, Tom 9, and Ralph 6. Daughter Opal had just been born January 26, 1899.

Newton’s brother Charles and his family were living nearby.

News and gossip

The local newspaper gossip columns reported normal family events to begin the year 1899.

“M.S. Jarvis is running a saw mill for Ed. Day at Correct.” – Vevay Reveille – January 19, 1899

“Miss Arminta Jarvis, of Cincinnati, came home last week to spend a few days with relatives.” – Vevay Reveille – March 2, 1899

“Miss Myrtle Jarvis called on Mr. Sellers one day last week.” Vevay Reveille – March 16, 1899

But there were concerns…

People were getting sick.

“Miss Gertrude Jarvis has a severe attack of the grip.” – Vevay Reveille – February 16, 1899

“Little Ralph Jarvis is very sick with pneumonia.” – Vevay Reveille – March 9, 1899

“Otto Jarvis died Saturday, April 29, aged 36 years. He never was very stout and had been sick since early spring.” Vevay Reveille – May 4, 1899

“Mrs. Burton has returned to her home in Greensburg, called there by the illness of her daughter.” – Vevay Reveille – May 25, 1899

The Grip

The grip is another name for influenza. There was an outbreak in 1899. A lot of people were getting sick.

After a respite of more than 50 years, pandemic influenza struck twice near the end of the nineteenth century, in 1889-1890 and again in 1899-1900.

Emerging Infections: Pandemic Influenza – The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health – 1996

The outbreak of grippe in the winter of 1899 was much more widespread.  It had apparently started before Christmas 1898.  In the first issue of the Normal-Eyte for the new year, the staff posed the question and offered advice:

“Have you had the Grippe?  If you haven’t, 1st, be careful, 2nd, be careful. 
If you have, just keep on being careful.” (“Have you had the grippe?”, 1899)

Getting Sick at School: Influenza and Other Illnesses at UNI, 1876-2009 – University of Northern Iowa

Newton died

Perhaps Newton caught the virus from his son Ralph, who was infected in March.

People with influenza may develop complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma flare-ups, acute respiratory distress, etc. For older adults and people with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be deadly.

Newton developed complications, and died of pneumonia early Tuesday morning, April 4, 1899. He was 43.

Vevay Reveille – April 6, 1899

Coincidentally, Newton’s parents, brother George, and sisters Ella and Miranda were visiting from Rising Sun and Cincinnati. They were all at his bedside during his final days.

It’s frustrating that we don’t know where Newton was buried. It must be around Aaron or Sugar Branch. It’s for one of you next-gen researchers to find.

Mother came to help Anna

Eliza Burton came from Greensburg to stay with Anna and the children. But she had to return to Greensburg in May to help care for her daughter Rebecca. Sadly, Rebecca had continuing bouts of illness, and died in August 1900 of tuberculosis.

Vevay Reveille – May 1899
Vevay Reveille – April 27, 1899

A move to Greensburg

After weighing her options, Anna Jarvis decided that she needed sustained help from her family. She couldn’t support her children on her own in Sugar Branch. She made the decision to move to her mother’s home in Greensburg.


1899 ended much differently than it had begun.

Newton had been widowed in 1887 when Sarah died. Now, twelve years later, Anna was widowed when Newton died. She had a family of four children, one of which was a baby less than a year old. Anna was age 29.

Her mother Eliza had been widowed two years earlier, when George Burton died in 1897. Anna and the kids would move in with Eliza. And there were extended family nearby; Eliza’s sister and George’s brother lived a few doors away and Anna’s brother also lived in Greensburg.

In November 1899, Anna was earning money by taking in washing and sewing in Greensburg.

Greensburg Daily Review – November 28, 1899

Put 1899 behind

Let’s get ready to ring in the new year and a new century – 1900. What’s in store for the Jarvis families in the new century?


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