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"Mother and Daughter Die"

Bethene Blanche Johnson Harris died of the Spanish flu shortly after her mother Alice Margaret Gregg Johnson did in 1919. Two newspaper articles of the time outline the story.

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Ord, Valley Co., NE, USA

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Mother and Daugter Die

Ord, Valley Co., NE, USA

Obit: Mother & Daughter Die

We have been called upon to chronicle many deaths in the past few months. In some cases the circumstances seemed more sad than in others but the death of Mrs. N. E. Johnson and her daughter Mrs. Ralph Harris at almost the same time seems more terible [sic] than any of the other cases because of the continued trouble this good family has had. It was but a few months ago that Mrs. Johnson has a terrible sickness and Ralph Harris got kicked and for weeks his life was almost despaired of and he has barely recovered his normal health. Mr. Johnson has been far from well since having the flu a few weeks ago and both Mr. Harris and the son Wallace Johnson have been critically ill in recent days.

Alice Margaret Gregg was born near East Nodaway, Iowa, April 29, 1870, and died at the home north of Ord Saturday morning, March 29, aged 48 years and 11 months. She was married to N. E. Johnson on the 26th of September, 1888. They made their home at Genoa until 1891 when they came to Valley county and this has been their home since, on the farm all the time except a few months that they lived in Ord. Three children were born to them, Bethene, Helen and Wallace. Mr. Johnson and Helen and Wallace are now left of the immediate family. The aged mother, Mrs. Helen Gregg, of Danvin [Danville], Iowa, is also here. There are two brothers, William Gregg of Ord and Archie Gregg of Lincoln, Illinois, and three sisters, Mrs. Blanche Walker of La Porte, Iowa, Mrs. John Atkins of Genoa, and Mrs. Esther Ballard if [sic] New London, Iowa. The last two ladies are here for the funeral and the other brother and sister were unable to come.

Bethene Johnson was born at Genoa, Nebraska, November 6, 1892, and died at the home of her father Tuesday, April 1, 1919, aged 26 years, 4 months and 25 days. She became the wife of Ralph Harris on September 30, 1913. One child, a little girl [boy] two years old, is left with the father to mourn the going of the young mother.

Both Mrs. Johnson and her daughter Mrs. Harris, were loved by all who knew them for they both had especially pleasing personalities. Mrs. Johnson belonged to the P. E. O. and also belonged to the Laurel Kensington club. Both ladies were members of the Presbeterian church and were active in church work. Rev. Davies, formerly their pastor, was called here to conduct the funeral and didn't know until he arrived that he was to have a double funeral, he supposing that Mrs. Johnson was the only one. He was of course greatly shocked. He performed the ceremony that made Bethene and Ralph Harris man and wife.

The funeral was held yesterday afternoon from the country home, with a short prayer at the house and the main service at the cemetery. Interment being made in the Ord cemetery.

During the illness at the Johnson home the neighbors and friends could [sic] that good neighbors and friends could do to lighten the burden of the family and they feel deeply grateful for the kindnesses rendered and for the beautiful floral offerings.

Johnson Family Suffers Dual Loss

Ord, Valley Co., NE, USA

johnson_loss.jpg

Mrs. Nels Johnson and Mrs.
Ralph Harris Taken But
a Few Days Apart

Side by side in the Ord Cemetery yesterday two graves received their precious charges; mother and daughter they were, Mrs. Nels Johnson and Mrs. Ralph Harris. When Rev. Davies read brief notes about each, intimate friends of the families were surprised to know that Mrs. Johnson was so young, only twenty-two years older than the daughter who was but twenty-six years of age.

Mrs. Johnson had suffered an attack of influenza earlier in the season but she supposed that she had fully recovered and it was not counted as a recurrant (sic) attack when she became sick last week. Pneumonia developed soon and the close of a beautiful life came on a beautiful spring morning, Sunday, March 30 th.

As the final summons came to the mother, in another chamber the eldest daughter, Mrs. Harris, was known to be very sick; Ralph was also ill and Wallace the son was also sick, although not serious. Miss Helen, who had been teaching at Blue Hill had been called home and she and her father carried the burden of managing the affairs of the afflicted household, with the assistance of kind neighbors, and many of the friends in town.

As soon as Mrs. Johnson passed away word was sent to Rev. P. A. Davies, formerly Presbyterian pastor of the families at Ord, but now located at Fairbury, that it would be appreciated if he could come to conduct the funeral services. In the meantime Mrs. Harris had succumbed to pneumonia and a double funeral had been arranged. Brief services were held at the county home, north-east of town, and considering the showery weather and the slippery roads there were more cars filled with mourning friends at the home than had been expected and these followed the two hearses as they wouThend their way to the cemetery.

floral offerings at the home and at the grave were unusually profuse and appropriate. Rev. Davies spoke with deep feeling as he referred to the estimable qualities of the deceased women. And spoke appreciatively of the splendid qualities possessed by the surviving members of the families. A quartet consisting of Messrs. Perryman, Wright, Petty and Detweiler sang at the cemetery.

Miss Alice Johnson was a sister of William B. Gregg. She was born on a farm near Nodaway, Iowa, April 29, 1870. At the age of eighteen years she was married to N. E. Johnson and they lived at Genoa until they came to Valley county about seventeen years ago when they purchased the farm where they have since lived with the exception of last summer when they purchased a house in Ord. Following the unfortunate accident that befell Ralph Harris they moved back to the farm. She was the mother of three children, Bethene Harris, Helen and Wallace Johnson. She is also survived by a mother, two brothers and three sisters, who were able to be at the funeral. Mrs. Johnson was active in church and club life and was a capable, broad and lovable character. Her greatest achievement was the quality of the home atmosphere with which she constantly surrounded her children. A chance visitor at the Johnson home could not fail to be impressed with the sincerity of her hearty cordiality.

Mrs. Bethene Johnson Harris was born near Genoa, November 6, 1892. She was twelve years old when the family moved to Ord and her girlhood was almost entirely spent here. Almost six years ago she was married to Ralph Harris, they having become acquainted while he was employed at the Johnson farm. Bethene was in many ways a replica of her mother, and like Mrs. Johnson gave her first and her best effort to her home. They resided at Lincoln until two years ago when they returned to Ord to manage the big Johnson farm while the parents were to live more comfortably in town. Ralph lately returned from Washington, D. C., where he was employed and joined his wife who had been living in the meantime with the parents. Contrary to the orders of his physician he attended the services at the cemetery, although scarcely able to stand following a severe attack of influenza. Ralph and the two year old son, Frederick, were particularly to be pitied as they stood beside the graves yesterday. The father was all too conscious of what it was all about but the wandering eyes of the babe seemed to study the faces of those about him for an answer to the feeling of mystery that he could not fathom. Ralph's father, F. M. Harris, had arrived from Kansas in time to attend the funeral and will afford great comfort to the sorrowing young father.

Seldom has the hand of death been laid more heavliy (sic) upon a family in this community. As before, it seems that the recent attack of influenza has chosen for its victims those who can least be spared.

There may be this consolation pointed out to the mourning survivors, that the people of the community generally feel the deepest sense of loss along with them. Church associates, lodge members and fellow members of clubs were generous in their offers of assistance and attended the funeral with the purpose of offering such consolation as possible to the relatives who suffered the deepest sense of grief and loss.

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