The second wave of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 peaked in October and began to wind down in November — but not before claiming the life of my dad’s Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau at age 33.
“Nobody else in the family got it,” according to my father. However, Dad wasn’t born until 1924, well after Albert was gone, so what he knew was based on family oral history.
Still, no one else in the family died in the pandemic — not even Albert’s wife, Annie — so there may be some truth to what Dad told me.
Albert’s life in obituaries
Uncle Albert’s 23 Oct. 1918 passing in Dolgeville, N.Y., was memorialized in two obituaries. One, from the Utica Herald-Dispatch, appears below. The other, from the Little Falls Journal and Courier, adds some detail to the first.
These obituaries helped me learn what I know about Albert’s life, which I have chronicled in this series — from his birth in Hawkinsville, N.Y., his move to Dolgeville, N.Y., and his marriage to Annie Miller, to his career and fraternal affiliations.The family in mourning
Albert’s untimely death left his widow Annie and the entire Charboneau family in mourning for a young and promising life lost.
Living in Dolgeville at the time were Albert’s parents Will and Eva Charboneau (my paternal great grandparents) and Albert’s brothers Ray (my paternal grandfather) and Dewey (the youngest, who lived with Will and Eva). Also Will’s sister, Harriet (Charbonneau) Croll, husband Fred and their children.
Albert’s brother Orville “Tom” Charboneau, of nearby Little Falls, had been inducted into the U.S. Army just one month before — so he was serving on coastal defense near New York City when Albert died.
A masonic funeral
How heartbreaking for the family to gather at the home of Albert and Annie for the funeral — the house at 42 State Street that they had moved into after their wedding just six years before.
At the time of his death Albert was Worshipful Master, or head, of Dolgeville Masonic Lodge No. 796 — and also a member of the Odd Fellows fraternal group. This would have left a wider community of associates to mourn him — and also entitled him to a Masonic funeral ceremony.
Uncle Albert’s Utica Herald-Dispatch obituary announced that, “The funeral will be held from the late home on Sunday afternoon and will be in charge of the local lodge of Masons.”
I am not sure if this means the Masons covered the costs — as some fraternal groups did for members and their families — or just organized and conducted the ceremony for Albert, who was their lodge leader.
Either way, Albert was dutifully sent off by his lodge with his family in attendance. He was buried at Dolgeville Cemetery not far from the main entrance, with a Masonic symbol engraved on his plot’s central stone.
Next in this series: How did Albert contract and succumb to the 1918 influenza? Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
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