John and Isabella Parsons, victims of the Great Flu 1918, NZ

 The Parsons Family

I traveled to the Northland of New Zealand recently and visited Kawakawa Cemetery where my great-grandparents John and Isabella Parsons were buried. Sadly I could not find their actual resting place, but it is set on a hill just out of the town, and is well maintained.

( Kawakawa Cemetery)

My great great grandfather, John, was born to Henry Charles Parsons and Elizabeth Mary (Napier) on the 21st July 1868.

He trained as a saw doctor in Sydney and in 1894 married Alice Maud Rock in Auckland. The marriage was very brief,  a son John was born back in Sydney, and he took his stepfathers surname of Facey.
In 1896 when he was 28 years old he appears on the electoral rolls as a saw doctor in Aoroa.
By 1902 his brother Hughie ( mill hand) and he were working at Tatarariki for Northern Pine Sawmills, and in 1903 the Donaldson family also lived in the town, with Albert and Frederick working as mill hands. Their father David Donaldson is listed as a cook.
These two brothers had an younger sister Isabella, born on the 23rd August 1886. Their mother Selina had died in 1892 when she was just 33, and her children 9,7 and 6 years of age.

Isabella registered the birth of a son Robert Donaldson in 1903.
John and Isabella married in 1904, and had 5 children; Marjorie, born 1906, May 1910, Henry 1912, John 1914 and Margaret, born June 1918.
The year their son John was born they are recorded living at Whangapara, with John still employed as a saw doctor.
By 1918 the family was living in Kawakawa, a small timber town, 212 kilometres north of Auckland.

Isabella died on the 8th of December then on the 26th of the same month, John also died.

Both were victims of the Great Influenza epidemic.

The children were fostered out to various family members , with my Nanny being the eldest at age 12, and the baby just 6 months old.

Isabella Parsons (nee Donaldson) 1886-1918

The Great Influenza epidemic  impacted on New Zealand, and did not spare cities or small communities, affecting adults in their prime years. In Orauta, near Kawakawa: 14 deaths from just 3 families were recorded and as a national statistic children losing both parents to the epidemic numbered 135, with a further  total  of 6,415 losing one parent.( NZIS 2018 symposium findings)

(pdf cached in www.immune.org.nz)