Ole Larson's Folks

The Letter from Anna, posted Dec. 22, generated quite a few comments, some of which were posted by readers, and others emailed to me. They followed 2 threads; the first I am addressing here.

Anna died Aug. 2, 1927, about 10 months after she wrote this letter. The cause of death was listed as diphtheria; which was not plausible to the family members who remembered it. When my father (Lovell) was battling lung cancer in 1969-70, he became absolutely convinced that it was the same illness that his mother had 43 years earlier. In Anna’s day, cancer was not only not talked about much, it was not well-known and I speculate it often was not correctly diagnosed.

Cousin Lois Hall wrote me with several remembrances on this issue. Her father, Waldemar Larson, was the eldest child, 15 years old when Anna died. Walt told Lois that he believed his mother died of a staph infection. That actually fits quite well with the cancer speculation, in that staph infections are often spread in a hospital environment, and if Anna did indeed have cancer (undiagnosed or mis-diagnosed), it may well have put her in the hospital, where she could be exposed to staph,with suppressed resistance to any such infection.

Lois also wrote about some recollections of her mother, Irene Nelson Larson. One was that Anna sometimes seemed to be “in a fog,” such as inviting company for dinner and forgetting she had done so.

Here is a rather poignant anecdote, quoting now from Lois’ email:

“Our parents’ [both Lois’ parents’ and mine-g.l.] cousin Gladys Moen (oldest of George & Lenore Moen’s children) was born in Sidney at same time as Uncle Ivan.  George (Anna’s brother) and Lenore lived either nearby or with Isaac and Anna at that time.  Gladys told me that her mother talked about how Anna sometimes wouldn’t nurse Ivan so she (Lenore) would nurse both babies.  This could be an indication of some possible health issues, physical and/or mental, that Anna was facing. “

Of Husmenn and Poverty
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