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The Past Repeats Itself

by Susan Stewart

Mary Jane Wortley Nafzinger photo (1).jp

I have always been grateful that my mother was thorough in teaching me about my maternal roots. One of the family stories is very much on my mind during this time of Covid 19.

My mother's maternal grandmother and grandfather were born in England and settled in Jasper County, Indiana. They had five sons and 2 daughters and lived on a farm near Rensselaer. One of the girls was my grandmother, Anna Eliza Wortley Fenwick, and her sister was Mary Jane Wortley Nafzinger.


Sadly, Mary died on Christmas Eve of 1918 at the age of 40, leaving behind her husband and two children. The cause of her death was double pneumonia, better known as influenza, or the Spanish Flu. My great-grandmother, Mary's mother, died in 1935, also on December 24th.

Addendum: Many years later my mother, Velma Fenwick Brown Lyons, lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where her new neighbor was the grandson of Mary Jane Wortley's widower, Peter Nafzinger. Small world indeed.

-Susan Stewart

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