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Who was Albert Emerson Askew?

Albert’s uncle, Charles Thompson Askew, the subject of my earliest posts on this blog, led me to find Albert and his family. The 1883 Woods’ Baltimore City Directory, which I referred to in an earlier post about him, lists Charles T. Askew, salesman, at the corner of Lafayette and Gilmor, along with Thomas S. Askew, clerk, and Isaac Emerson, apothecary. (There’s that Emerson name again, hmmm.) I also know that Charles and Thomas are brothers. How do I know that? In addition to wills and other evidence, which I won’t go into right now, here they are in the 1870 federal census for Wake County, North Carolina:

1870 NC Wake Askew William copy

I was unable to find Thomas in the 1880 census. However, I did find him in another Baltimore city directory in 1893. The listing reads:

ASKEW & CO (Thos S Askew, Albert W Young) druggists, 501 N. Carrollton

It seems he rose from being a clerk in a drug store to a druggist in his own business. This was the last evidence I could find for Thomas in Baltimore. An 1894 city directory for Wilmington, Delaware, listed “Askew TS, druggist.” At first, I wasn’t certain whether or not this was, in fact, the same person. Some evidence I discovered recently, however, proves it was. Where did Thomas go after that?

Legal documents pertaining to his father’s estate indicate that by 1888 he has a wife named Sadie. Using that as a clue, I found him in Pennsylvania. Here they are in the 1900 federal census for Philadelphia:

1900 PA askew t s copy

It shows that they have been married for 14 years and that he is a drug salesman. They have two sons who were born in Delaware: Albert E., born in May, 1891; and Frank L., born in May, 1897.

I haven’t had any luck finding a birth record for Albert, but I did find one for Frank. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware on May 1, 1897. It also shows his mother’s maiden name is Sadie Young. Could she be related to the Albert W. Young listed as a druggist at Askew & Co. in the 1893 Baltimore directory mentioned above? It seems likely, but I don’t know for certain.

Askew Frank L

Searching Delaware records, I also found that Thomas and Sadie had a daughter who died at age 2. According to the death certificate, her name was Edith Young Askew. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She died on June 17, 1890 of meningitis.

For some reason, I haven’t been able to find this family in either the 1910 or 1920 federal census. This meant turning to other sources for clues to their whereabouts. Once again, books available online in digital format provided answers. Just as I found clues about Charles Askew by searching in publications about his occupation as a paper salesman, I turned up valuable information about Thomas in pharmaceutical materials. A publication titled Practical Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review of Reviews, Vol. 21-24, pg. 585, which I found at http://www.books.google.com, in the section dated December, 1908, lists Thomas S. Askew as a registered pharmacist, having passed the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy exam in October.

Now that I knew where (and “when”) to look, it was easy to trace the family in city directories. A city directory for Vineland, New Jersey lists Thomas as a druggist and Albert as resident manager at 712 Grape Street. In 1910, the whole family appears in the Camden city directory. Their address is 835 N. 2nd. The 1915 Camden city directory shows that, by then, the family had moved to 419 State Street. Albert is listed as a drug clerk.

Albert seems to be following in his father’s footsteps in the pharmacy business. Perhaps seeking new opportunities apart from the family business, Albert takes over the management of a pharmacy in Trenton, New Jersey, according to this article published in the Trenton Evening Times on October 6, 1915:

Askew takes over Davidsons drug store copy

On June 5th of 1917, Albert registered for the draft. His registration card lists his age as 26 and date of birth as May 4, 1892. (This differs from the 1900 census, above, by one year.) His home address is 145 State Street, Camden, and he now works as a pharmacist for J. T. Kelly in Hammonton, New Jersey. He is married. He is tall, with blue eyes and black hair. The Camden city directory for 1917 shows that Thomas and Sadie continue to live at 419 State Street.

Exactly one year later, his brother, Frank, registered for the draft, too. His registration card lists his age as 21 and date of birth as May 1, 1897. His home address is 418 N. 2nd, Camden, and he works for the Electro Dental Company of Philadelphia. He is medium height, with light blue eyes and brown hair. Interestingly, he lists his mother as his nearest relative. Also, he reports his middle name as “Young,” although it is shown as “Laplace” on his birth record. Why the change, I wonder?

We know what happens to Albert later in 1918. In fact, the address where his funeral was held is the same as the address that Frank lists as his home address on his draft registration. Albert’s widow, Florence, moved to San Francisco after his death, and appears there in the 1925 city directory.

Something happens to Thomas between 1917 and 1920, but I’m not sure what it is. He may also have died of the Spanish flu, but I have been unable to find a death record for him. The 1920 Camden city directory lists Sadie, but not Thomas. She is living with Frank. One day I may be able to solve this mystery in the New Jersey archives.

Are there any living Askews from this line? Albert and Florence had no children. I have no record of Frank after 1923. So, for now, it seems the story of my great-great-great uncle Thomas and his family has come to an end.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Askew, Uncategorized

 

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Askew Among 675,000 Dead from Flu

Between the start of “flu season” and the middle of October, nearly 7000 people in Camden, New Jersey fell ill with the flu. By October 19th, 615 of them were dead. Across the river in Philadelphia, the death toll climbed quickly past 700. No epidemic of this magnitude has been encountered before or since. One unfortunate victim, Albert Emerson Askew, succumbed to the flu on October 23rd, during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. He was 27 years old.

According to his obituary, published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger on October 25, 1918, he was survived by his wife, Florence Patterson Askew; his father, Thomas Askew; and his mother, Sadie Askew. A funeral service was held at the home of family friend William E. Comley, 418 N. 2nd Street, Camden. Interment took place at Riverview Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1918, the Spanish flu caused an estimated 675,000 deaths in the United States alone. The worldwide death toll may have been as high as 50 million people. It killed rapidly, often overnight, as infected people suffocated when their lungs filled with fluid. Some reports indicate a bloody froth spilled from their mouths. Secondary bacterial pneumonia infections were common. Those in the age range of 20 to 50 had the highest mortality rate, which is somewhat unusual for the flu. At the time, Philadelphia’s population numbered approximately 1.7 million. By October 25th, 150,000 cases of the Spanish flu had been reported there. The city morgue, designed for 36 bodies, overflowed with more than 500 dead stacked in the halls. Burials couldn’t keep pace. In Philadelphia, as well as in Newark, New Jersey, and other cities, the dead were sometimes buried in mass graves.

Some of the first reported case of the Spanish flu in the US occurred among a group of sailors in Boston at the end of August, 1918. By October 1st, the number of reported cases in Massachusetts exceeded 75,000. In New Jersey, more than 150,000 cases were reported, and by the end of October more than 4,400 people were dead. By contrast, this year Boston’s mayor declared a state of emergency when the number of confirmed cases of the flu reached 700 and 4 people had died.

Public response to the Spanish flu epidemic seems to have been mixed. In some cities, public gathering places such as schools, theaters, and churches were closed, and people were encouraged to don gauze masks. Not everyone agreed with this policy, however. One Philadelphia newspaper accused authorities of trying to “scare everyone to death,” and relegated news about the flu to its back pages, despite the mounting death toll. Ultimately, Philadelphia had the highest number of deaths of any US city with over 12,000 reported. Most of these occurred within four weeks during the peak of the flu season.

Still, many more people lived through the pandemic than died. Unfortunately, Albert E. Askew wasn’t one of the lucky ones. The odds may have been stacked against him, though, because he would very likely have come into contact with many sick people. He was a druggist. In those days, the fledgling medical profession had neither the knowledge nor the resources to mount an effective battle against this virulent strain of flu. Also, many doctors and nurses were overseas taking care of the soldiers fighting in World War I, leaving fewer “trained” medical personnel to care for the sick. The pharmaceutical industry was in its infancy, with druggists creating and dispensing “cures” for many ailments. They were often sought out by the sick for medical advice and treatment. There was no cure for the flu, however whisky was often proscribed. Druggists were a source of supply even when public places, such as saloons, had been temporarily closed during the height of the pandemic.

Where does Albert Emerson Askew reside on my family tree? I will tell you in my next post. Hint: we are 1st cousins, 3 times removed. If you don’t remember what that means, read this post again.

Here are a few of the sources I used for information about the Spanish Flu:

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic; http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/

Pandemic Flu History; http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/

University of Pennsylvania article; http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/1198/lynch.html

Boston flu deaths for 2012-13 season total 6 before Jan 11th according to this article. Five were over 65 years old.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Askew, Uncategorized

 

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