Influenza Strikes Fairbury

Mary (Wagler) Nicholas was one Fairbury, Illinois, resident who fell victim to the 1918 flu epidemic.  She may also have been my first cousin three times removed; I’m still trying to iron out some confusion over my Slagel line.  Her obituary, as found in Derrick Babbs’s Ninety-One Years of the Fairbury, Illinois Apostolic Christian Church, is particularly sad.

Mary Nicholas

After caring for children through a siege of influenza, Mrs. Mike Nicholas was herself taken ill with the disease last Thursday, pneumonia developed and she grew steadily worse, until she passed away Wednesday morning. The case is a particularly sad one as she leaves a family of teen children, the oldest being under 16 years of age.

Mary Wagler was born in Pulaski, Iowa, forty-one years ago. She was united in marriage to Mike Nicholas in 1902, and has made this city her home ever since.

Besides her immediate family she is survived by her father, Rev. Chris Wagler, of Pulaski, Iowa, and eight brothers and one sister.

The funeral services will be held from the home this afternoon at three o’clock.

I located Mary and her family in Fairbury in the 1910 census, living on Walnut Street. Mike is listed as 37 years old, Mary 32.  They have been married for 8 years and Mary has given birth to 6 children, all of whom are still living:  Ezra, 7; Alvin, 5; Ester, 4; Paul, 3; William, 2; and an as-yet-unnamed son, 7 months. Also living with them is a roomer, Thomas A. Smith.  Mike’s occupation is listed as department store merchant.


Nicholas Family 1910

3 thoughts on “Influenza Strikes Fairbury

  1. I would love to. I will reach out to, probably on Tuesday 10/27. I’m looking forward to chatting.

    1. Hi there – I’m so glad to hear from you! If you’d be interested in sharing more information on your family branch, or if you have any questions on anything I may have, I’d love to discuss further. My email is

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