The worldwide influenza pandemic which occurred in 1918 and 1919 is believed to have claimed 40 million people. The disease arrived in Australia through Victoria in early 1919 and spread to New South Wales by 27 January. By the time it ended in September, more than 6000 people had died in the State.
The three daughters and one grandson of John Killion and Jane Feeny were amongst those who lost their lives.
On 05 July 1919 - 98 years ago today, Margaret Gersbach (nee Killion) was the last of the daughters of John and Jane to died from influenza. Margaret was 57 years old. Frank Gersbach jnr, Margaret's son, had died 11 weeks earlier from influenza. He died on 18 April 1919, aged 29. Both died at the family home, "Cronulla" 19 Northumberland Street Stanmore.
So, it seemed timely to visit the homes where my great-grandmother, great uncle and my two 2nd great-aunts had died all those years ago.
|Clockwise from top left - Margaret Gersbach (nee Killion), 19 Northumberland Street Stanmore, Frank Gersbach jnr, "Cronulla" nameplate on home, Margaret's 1917 letter informing AIF of the family's move to "Cronulla"|
On 29 April 1919, Rose Porter (nee Killion) had died from influenza at 21 Talfourd Street Glebe. Rose, aged 64, was the oldest of the sisters. At this time, we've not located a photo of Rose but there's still hope. We may find one amongst the unidentified images at the Macleay River Historical Society!
|21 Talfourd Street Glebe - Home of Rose Porter (nee Killion)|
Seven weeks later, on 15 June 1919, Mary Jane Newton (nee Killion) died from influenza at 574 Crown Street Surry Hills. Mary Jane, aged 59, was the fourth of the Killion children.
|Mary Jane Newton (nee Killion)|
574 Crown Street Surry Hills on right - some original features in the upper facade remain.
The three Killion sisters died within 10 weeks! Rose, Mary Jane and Margaret were survived by their husbands, 9 children and 6 grandchildren.
Rose and Margaret are buried at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery. Mary Jane is buried at the Church of England Cemetery Waverley.