Posts Tagged With: influenza

Zula Ley: Little-Known Fact #4


Ley Zula Robert Jr. 1918

A 1918 portrait shows my great-grandmother, Mary Zula Lucrece (Fisher) Ley, and her newborn son, my grandfather Robert Earl Ley Jr.

Tragic Death Tied to Flu Epidemic

When I started this blog, it was to share what’s most interesting to me about genealogy — the way the lives and personalities of our ancestors come to life in the stories we uncover.

At times those stories are tragic. Perhaps none more so than the story of my great-grandmother, Zula (Fisher) Ley.

Posts in the last weeks have shared snippets of her young life — acclaim for her acting in a senior play, notching a finalist finish in a national beauty contest, sneaking off to Wellsburg, W. Va. to marry Great-Grandpa Earl Ley.

These and other portraits show Zula as vital, intelligent, beautiful.

But her life is defined for her descendants by its tragic end, subject of the second post ever in this blog. It was front-page news in neighboring Dover: how the young wife, 24, of a prominent dentist passed away of influenza and pneumonia late on a Sunday night at home in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

An account in the hometown Daily Times, however, also ties Zula’s death to a sudden epidemic that winter.

The Feb. 2, 1920 edition, front page, broadcasts in bold headlines: FLU EPIDEMIC CLAIMS THREE; RED CROSS TAKES UP BATTLE. Whole Families are Reported Ill. Relief is Sought. Three Persons Die Over Weekend.

While influenza is fast enveloping New Philadelphia in a grip that claimed three fatalities Sunday and Monday the Red Cross is preparing to combat the epidemic with nurses.

Mayor E. N. Fair Monday as chairman of the influenza committee of the Red Cross was seeking a nurse for a family where help could not be obtained to take care of the ill.

Whole families are ill with the epidemic, and many patients were reported on the verge of death, Monday.

Young Wife Dies

Mrs. Mary Zula Ley, 24, wife of Dr. Robert E. Ley, Dover dentist, succumbed to influenza-pneumonia at 11:30 p.m. Sunday following ten days’ illness.

The death of Mrs Ley which occurred at the residence on West High street, caused widespread sorrow.

The husband and one son, Robert Earl, aged 16 months, survive.

Years later, with more information known about our family history, it is believed the hereditary presence of Factor V Leiden, which causes abnormal clotting of the blood, particularly in veins, may have contributed to Zula’s death.

Reported in neither paper was the stillborn death of her infant daughter, also named Mary on a separate death certificate.

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For the Record | Zula Ley, 1920 Obit


Ley Zula Robert Jr. 1918

A 1918 portrait shows my great-grandmother, Mary Zula Lucrece (Fisher) Ley, and her newborn son, my grandfather Robert Earl Ley Jr.

Mary Zula Lucrece (Fisher) Ley | 1895-1920

This blog series explores the lives of Ley ancestors as revealed in their obituaries. Much of this information was gathered during a March 2011 research trip to Tuscarawas and Harrison counties in Ohio. A scan of the obituary is available at the bottom of this post.

From The Daily Reporter (Dover, Ohio), Monday, Feb. 2, 1920 (front page):

Mrs. Robt. Ley Dies

Mary Zula Ley, 24, wife of Robert Ley, well known Dover dentist, died of influenza and pneumonia at 11:30 Sunday night at the family home at 813 West High Street, New Philadelphia. She had been ill for ten days.

Mrs. Ley was born in York Township and graduated from New Philadelphia High School in 1913. She taught school four years, two years in rural schools and two years in the Dover city schools.

She was married June 27, 1917 to Dr. Ley, who survives with a 15 months old son, Robert. She also leaves her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Fisher; three brothers, Clyde, New Philadelphia; Oscar of Dennison; Byron of Midvale; and one sister, Mrs. Olin Abbuhl of Uhrichsville.

Funeral services will be held from the home at 2:30 Wednesday afternoon.

The above article is also notable for what it doesn’t say. My great-grandmother also miscarried a four-months premature daughter, whom the death certificate records as Mary Zula Ley, after her mother. They are buried in the Fisher plot in East Avenue Cemetery, in New Philadelphia.

What else was happening in the world on Feb. 1, 1920? It was a quiet day, according to recorded accounts. Only recently, the League of Nations took effect, and the United States voted to join the League. In January, Babe Ruth had been traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees. And police raids on suspected Communists rocked cities including Buffalo and Boston.

Ley Zula 1920 obit Times-Reporter

Zula Ley headstone, East Ave. Cemetery

Zula Ley headstone, East Ave. Cemetery

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