Lawrence and Annie Ledger – victims of 1918 flu pandemic in New Orleans, LA.

While doing my family research I occasionally come across stories of my family that I didn’t know and that require more study. In this case I was filling out family tree information for my maternal grandfather’s side of his family. My maternal grandfather was Leonard Ledger and his first cousin was Lawrence John Ledger. Their fathers were brothers. The family had come to Louisiana from French Canada in the 1860’s and grew exponentially while in Louisiana. As I was adding information to Lawrence I started to learn about his tragic life.

Lawrence was born Oct 23, 1885 in New Orleans. He was listed as a motorman on a streetcar in the 1910 census. And in each city directory after that he was listed as a laborer until in 1915 where he is listed as a welder.

He married Annie Bulger in December of 1910 when he was 25. They proceeded to start a family but things didn’t go very well for them. On August 21, 1911 they had a baby boy, Lawrence John Ledger Jr. but he died on August 23. Then on June 9, 1912 they had twin boys, Lawrence Anthony and Clarence Anthony Ledger. Clarence died the same day (or may have been stillborn, I do not know) and Lawrence died on June 15 at 4 days old. How heartbreaking this must have been for Annie and Lawrence. I discovered after much digging that they were finally able to have 2 children before their deaths, the children were only 5 and 2 years old. These children were raised by Lawrence’s parents and grew up to marry and have children of their own. I am working on their part of the family tree now – I hope I can find descendants that have photos!!!

In February 1918 Lawrence applied for a passport for a trip to British Honduras, it was a work trip and he is listed as a welder and he was going there to teach welding. Looks like he only stayed a short while.

Then on September 12, 1918 he registered for the draft. WWI was going on and all men had to register.

In October 1918 the flu epidemic had hit New Orleans. It came by ship and wrecked havoc on the city.  Between October 1918 and April 1919, the city experienced a staggering 54,089 cases of influenza. Of these, 3,489 died.  Only Pittsburgh and Philadelphia – the two cities with the worst epidemics in the nation – had higher death rates.

On October 24 at 12:25 a.m. Lawrence John Ledger, 33 years old, died of Influenza. Approximately 10 and a half hours later Annie Bulger Ledger, 24 years old, died of pneumonia-influenza.

Their funerals were held on October 25, Lawrence’s at 10:30 a.m. and Annie’s at 11 a.m. They are buried together in the Bulger family crypt.

Greenwood Cemetary, New Orleans

I found their story to be so tragic. A young couple, their babies dying, they finally have 2 children, then they die during the flu epidemic of 1918. I wish I had a picture of Annie. The one picture I have of Lawrence is from his passport and it is not very good. I won’t give up trying to find one. Lawrence was my 1st cousin twice removed and I hope by telling Lawrence and Annie’s story that I am keeping their memory alive.

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My diary – June 22, 1975

I just read what I wrote on the last page. Boy I sure lie alot. The next day after that happened. I called Frank at work and apologized for being so snappy. I must admit I wasn’t very nice. So I kissed his ass again! I didn’t call Wednesday night or Thursday. He called Friday but I was out with Mike. (Typical, he calls at 9 p.m. to ask me out). Then on Saturday he gets in touch with me at my sisters house. I was helping her clean really good and he calls when I left for a minute. So when I come back he comes over and I kiss his ass as usual. When I am nice to him, though, he is nice to me so it pays a little to kiss his ass. He took me and Johnny for a ride to his new house. (His parents bought a beautiful house) We just sat around and I was supposed to call Mike and we were going out that night (Saturday) and I was also supposed to be going out with Mike B. (Boy, I am crazy!) Well, I went back to my sisters and went to pick up Guy and his buddies at the Catalina Terminal (the spent the whole week at Catalina) and Colleen was going to watch Johnny when Frank and I went out after I pick up the kids. Then when I got home (after I hurried like crazy to pick them up and come home and change) Frank calls and says he is tired and he will just take me and Johnny out to dinner to our favorite restaurant. So while I was getting ready, Mike calls (I know I shouldn’t have answered) He was waiting for me all day and I told him where I was going and he got jealous but not mad. He is so sweet, he doesn’t get mad. I feel bad cause I hurt him a little. He is really a neat guy, I care for him alot because he cares. At least he has feelings, sometimes I wonder about Frank. Well, dinner was nice and we came back here and put Johnny to bed. Then we made love. Well, making love with Frank is alot different than with Mike. Mike tries to please, Frank gets pleased. Frank is good but he doesn’t have enough inner feelings. Oh well, then he made me get all our old memories out and we looked through them. It was nice. A love letter he once wrote me was so beautiful I cried, just like when I read it 2 years ago. We have sure gone through alot together. That is one thing that Mike can’t understand. He wonders why I put up with Frank’s shit (Frank even cruised Mike’s house last night and Mike heard us, I felt so dumb) But Frank and I have had many good and bad times together and through all the hurt I love him. I know he loves me too, although he could never trust me again. And I don’t blame him. I told him last night that I think we will get married some day. He said no way because he eon’t raise some elses kid and he doesn’t want a wife who doesn’t want any more kids. I told him I wanted more kids. But I could just imagine having his kids, I would have to do everything myself with no help from him. Oh well, that is thinking too far ahead. I really loved him last night, he was being pretty nice for a change. He finally went hom at 12:00. I had a nice time.

Mike and Johnny and I spent the day together. We went to some people’s house (with Rich) and had dinner and went to the park and threw the Frisbee. It was fun. We played on the kids toys and really goofed around. Had a nice time. Mike was jealous of Frank and he asked me if I had a good time, etc. I think it is cute. Mike acts so much more mature than Frank does in so many ways.

Well, I am so tired, I could drop. Goodnight.

p.s. Frank just called and he was nice! Still kind of crazy and he always acts like he goes out with so many broads but I know he just likes to make me mad! I know he really cares. Goodnight!

My thoughts today: I am mad at my young self for being so needy. For thinking Frank would somehow work his issues out. He ended up marrying twice, never to me. He had 2 kids with wife #2 and he is still married to her. His kids are grown, he has grandchildren, he is happy. I ended up marrying 2 more times and my third time was a charm, 30 years together this month. But even though Frank was married, or between marriages, he still kept contacting me. Although the last few years not much. He is old and so far right I can’t take it. I am old and far left, so we butt heads politically. But I will always still look backward at our relationship and be happy for the good times we had.

My Diary – June 17, 1975

My nephew’s Mike (not the Mike I am writing about in diary) and David, my dad Dexter, my nephew Guy and my son Johnny in January 1975

I had to stop last night because Mike came over, he wanted to read this but I wouldn’t let him. I told him that when I was 70 he could read it. Tonight Mike and I went to get some Chinese food I left Johnny with David at his house. My sister gets all uptight but she is such a stick in the mud! (sometimes) Then Mike and I went to his house and took a shower together and then romped on the water bed. It is so nice. He is tender and loving. Not like Frank who only cares about his cookie. And when he does try to make me feel good it is only to feed his own ego. As you can tell I am mad at him. He just came over. He pulled into the driveway and revved his engine. I just got out of the shower so I stuck my head out of the door and said I just got out of the shower, he says “sounds like a personal problem” Then I got mad cause he never comes in, he just expects me to jump out there and talk to him. He never gets out of his truck. Well I told him that and he says “Hay, don’t jump on me, Fuck you” and he tears out. Boy, I slammed the door and got pissed! Poor Johnny, he likes Frank and I always yell at him when I am mad at Frank. He even wanted to give F rank the fathers day present he made at school. I finally talked him into giving it to my dad but that broke my heart. I told Frank and he didn’t even care. Why do I care for him? If he calls later I will probably kick his ass. But if he wants to talk to me he can come into my house. It is so degrading for me to jump to his every wish.

Goodnight

My feelings today: I mentioned my sister getting uptight – David is her youngest son and he helped me out with Johnny quite a bit, he was about 16 at the time. His brother Guy helped me even more but for some reason he wasn’t around I guess…he had just graduated high school so he was probably busy with his friends or girl friends. My sister never wanted me to have fun, go out, she really didn’t like how I lived, but I did what I wanted to. Now we don’t speak, but that is another story.

I wish I could have let Mike read this diary when I turned 70. His death 3 years ago really hits me now. I wish I could have let him know how I felt about his wonderful treatment of me. I also am reliving my weird dependence on Frank. I had forgotten, or repressed so much, he was not very nice, and I did not remember that. In his defense, I was really trying to find the right guy since I knew Frank wasn’t it so his trying to hold onto me was really difficult. Even after Frank was married later, he still kept coming back…why? Just for the sex? I don’t get it really. This exercise is really helping me deal with old stuff, I am glad I decided to do it.

My diary – June 16, 1975

Mike in 2015.

Last night Mike came over. He is so sweet to me. We made some beautiful love. Or should I say he made some beautiful love to me. WOW!

Frank called at 1 a.m. He always calls me late at night I don’t know why. He used to call late and then come over just to make love to me. But he doesn’t want to come over and make love. He just calls and talks. He told me the other night that he met Linda Ronstadt and she was very pretty and nice.

Today my muffler fell off of my car on Baldwin Ave., it was funny. When Frank found out he went and bought me another one. I have to pay him back $6.00. But still he did it for me. Sometimes he is nice to me. Why?

My thoughts on todays entry: I wish I had a picture of Mike from 1975 – I only have the one at top that he sent me in 2015. Imagine him the same but with a full beard and more hair, but the same impish grin was always there! Mike was a sweetheart. He died suddenly from a stroke in June 2016 – I was so saddened to hear of his passing.

I had forgotten about Frank calling me so late all the time. This was the days before cell phones or answering machines or even being able to unplug your phone, so unless you left the phone off the hook (which caused lots of noise as it beep beep beeped as long as it was off) then the phone would ring. I wonder if it woke Johnny up, I can’t remember. We slept in the same room. Any lovemaking I did was in the living room when Johnny was asleep. I drove Volkswagen beetles at this time and I don’t remember this time that the muffler fell off but I do remember it falling off on the freeway about a year later! Obviously I didn’t have any luck with mufflers!

My diary – June 15, 1975

Frank and I going to his prom, 1973

Well this weekend was busy. On Thursday was my nephew Guy’s high school graduation. It was a nice ceremony, even thought it was boring. And you couldn’t see anything. Then we all went to the French Cafe for dinner, Diane went with us, it was bust ups!

Frank called that night, at 1 a.m. and I promised to bring a cake to the fire station on Friday. He also told me he would take us out Saturday night (after I asked him to) When Friday came Mike called me and asked me and Johnny to go somewhere. When Frank called and I told him and he got VERY upset and hung up on me. I called back and said I would bring the cake. Mike was disappointed but I am such a sucker for Frank. He was nice to me at the station and the guys were very grateful, so it was worth it.

Frank and I went to his new house on Saturday and then to Charlie Brown’s in the evening. I hate to go there. We also cruised Valley Blvd. before that and we ate at Pup n’taco. Dud! I hate to listen to music and not be able to dance. Frank won’t dance. Dud! We just don’t get along. He wanted me to go to the swap meet with him Sunday but when he called me, I was just too tired and he, of course, got mad! He came up to Dad’s today (Father’s day) while I was there and told me I am fat and acted like an ass – why do I put up with him? Johnny, David and I swam all day at Mom and Dad’s. It was a very nice day. I talked to Mike. He is so sweet. I hardly saw him this week. I better start being nice to him. Well, Good bye!

My feelings on this entry: I had completely forgotten about Frank wanting me to always bring cakes or cookies or something to his work. I think he liked showing me off, like a prize or something. I swear I would cave in to his every request. I mean, he would take me to that Charlie Brown’s where live music and dancing were and then refuse to dance. I remember that I always felt on display when with him. I try to remember this was the days when women still felt like men defined them, and I had such confidence issues anyway that his attention was welcomed, not shunned. I kept trying to replace him with someone better for me – but I had a hard time.

Reading this diary is bring back lots of things to me that I had forgotten, lots of feelings I had pushed down. Not sure if it is good or bad but I felt it was time to deal with it so I will continue.

My diary – June 8, 1975

Almost the exact type of switchboard I used in my new job.

On the first day of my new job I was so happy. I love it. I was just as happy on the second day and hope to be as happy every day. I have learned to operate the PBX switchboard, It is fun.

On Thursday Frank was looking for me, he finally saw me on the street and made a big stink because I owe him 10 dollars. I told him Mike and I were going out and he starting acting very strangely. He reminded me of my ex-husband. Suck a strange glow in his eyes. Well, he followed me home and when Mike came to pick me up Frank hid in the garage, then called me and demanded his $10. I gave him my last $9.00 and he took it. I really think that was shitty of him. Plus he made some asshole remark in front of Ronny and his new girlfriend. Well, as usual I said I had had it with Frank, that was the end. But on Friday at 4 am. Frank calls and then comes over and apologizes for acting so stupid. I know his heart wasn’t in it. He could really care less but I accepted the apology. I am so DUMB. I just can’t let him go. I keep hanging on to the last thread, although today and he called and wanted me to help him move some stuff to their new house and he said leave Johnny with David. I said no, Johnny goes or I don’t, so I didn’t! He doesn’t like Johnny, he said so himself. Well tuff shit!

Anyway, Mike and I had a wonderful time on Thursday. Mike took Johnny and I to the show. He is very sweet to me and nice to Johnny. Then on Friday he called me at work and asked me to go out. I arranged for a babysitter and then I found out he wanted to take me up on a ski-lift that almost gave me a heart attack last year. So he called off our date. I made an ass out of myself by getting upset and then saying I was getting dependent on him. Boy, that was dumb. Mike is a very good person, but he doesn’t like to be pressured. So I changed clothes and went over to his house and apologized. That was cool. It turned out he never did get up there (it was a night club on Mt. Baldy) and he had a bad night. On Saturday he cooked me and Rick (his roommate) dinner and we just watched t.v. and went to get an ice cream at 31 flavors (my home away from home) Guy (this is my nephew who I was very close to, he was about 17 at this time) was using my house because it was Prom night and I am a nice person. I even bought him the booze! Anyway, We took a shower together and made love in the shower. It was neat! Then we went to bed and I made love to Mike. He told me that he did two firsts. First time he got his cookie in the shower and first time a girl took the time to make him feel good (which I did). I really enjoyed it. I think it was because I didn’t drink or smoke anything. I was just myself. We went to Puddingstone this morning and rode in the boat while Phil skied. But it was too crowded and an ugly day to boot. Mike found out that his mom has a tumor in her kidney (she just had a gall bladder operation) He has been worried about her. We went to the hospital to see her. Then we went to a plant store to buy me a plant and Mike ended up buying a $25.00 fern (huge) and I didn’t get anything. But that’s ok because the fern looks beautiful in his house. He came by about 6:00 and was going to buy us some Gardunos food but I had just washed my hair. I really like the way he treats me. It is so different from Frank or any guy.

There is a cute guy at work who is an inspector, his name is David. He already has asked me out to dinner. No definite date, but I have a feeling it will be soon. The salesmen are all young and good looking., I am wondering whether I better not go out with anyone (at work) I don’t know how they feel about it. I don’t want to mess up my job. I am kind of stuck on Mike right now, but lord knows how long that will last. I hope a long time, he is the best thing that has happened to me in ages. But they say good things never last.

End.

My thoughts on todays entry: So many things run through my head. First, this was 44 years ago and I was so young. Johnny was my son who was only 4 and the love of my life. I don’t remember things in such detail so this diary is bringing things back. Last night I had a dream about Frank still coming around….dredging up old stuff is weird. I think of that job….I really did run an old PBX machine with the cords! It was a trip. But the old lady I worked for was so grumpy and controlling, I don’t remember how long I lasted but, not too long. I remember the emotions with Frank and his behavior became too much for me and I kind of freaked out and quit. But I also worked with such nice people, kind people. I always would mess up any situation with my immature personality and always wanting things my way….not sure I have matured that much, but I have tried. Funny how I had forgotten how kind Mike was to me and to Johnny, but in my pea brain, because he was so short, because he wasn’t traditionally handsome, I just couldn’t stay liking him no matter how good he was to me. I do remember not liking how much dope he smoked so maybe that also had something to do with it. The diary may tell more later !