Women’s History Month – Baby Gertie


Henry Fiscus and his wife Malissie Angeline Tower celebrated a new baby on March 27, 1916, in Kansas.  They called the little one Gertie. She had three older brothers and five sisters.

Her siblings were Sarah 1897, Ruthie 1899, Lewis 1901, Ruben 1903 (he died young), Nora 1906, Martha 1908, John 1911, and Daisy 1913.

At 2 1/2, Gertie lost her status as the youngest child when a baby brother, Charlie Isaac, was born in June of 1918. By this time, the family had moved to Prague, Oklahoma.

Little did the family know that the year of 1918 would be one of loss and sorrow for them. The Great War raged in Europe and young men from Prague marched bravely away to board trains and then troopships heading for France. The Fiscus family may have felt lucky that their sons were too young for the army.

vintage illustration of mother and child

Vintage illustration of a mother and child (from a school reader)

Then on September 11, 1918, little Gertie died. Over 100 years have passed, so we don’t know if it was the dreaded Spanish Flu that took their daughter away. I found a report that said in Oklahoma, the epidemic started around Sept. 26 in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Perhaps Gertie Fiscus was a victim of the early arrival of influenza before it was identified as an epidemic. By October 4th, more than 1,200 Oklahomans in 24 counties had been stricken with the flu. I found another article that estimated that between October 1918 and April 1919, around “7,350 Oklahomans died of the virus and secondary infections related to it.”

Just five weeks later, Prague was shaken by a destructive tornado that killed two women and injured fifteen others. 1918 was not a good year for the Fiscus family and Prague, Oklahoma.


One thought on “Women’s History Month – Baby Gertie

  1. Vera Marie Badertscher

    Just a reminder that people have weathered disasters throughout history. We’re not the first!


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