There is a census called the mortality census. In 1859, 1869, and 1879, they have a census for those who died in the year proceeding the regular census -- I assume because they survived the majority of the decade. My Great-Grandfather, William Klein, died in September of 1879. While I was looking for him in the mortality census I came across the records of 5 children with the last name Felton. I was in the early stages of research so I made a note of them and the cause of death... diptheria in all cases.
As I got more into research I realized all five were related to the Jacob that I believe is a great-great uncle.
Of course I then had to look up what diphtheria is. We now vaccinate in infancy, but in 1879 there was no cure. Diphtheria is a virus that creates a thick mucus layer on the lungs. Victims essentially end up suffocating. Tracheotomies were later performed that allowed patients to breathe until the virus worked it's course. But again, these were not yet performed.
At the time, Jacob and Sophia had 8 children. Between the 16th of November and the 20th of December, they lost 5 children each of which suffocated to death most after knowing their sibling had died from the same symptoms.
Carl Fredrick was born 27 February 1863 and died 20 Dec. 1879 age 16
Wilhelmina was born 29 July 1866 and died 7 Dec. 1879 age 13
William was born 18 Jan. 1868 and died 16 Nov 1879 age 11
Anna was born 17 Feb. 1870 and died 27 Nov 1879 age 9
George was born 18 Oct 1875 and died 25 Nov. 1879 age 4
The thought of watching any of my children harmed breaks my heart. I don't know how one would find the strength to go on after watching 5 children suffocate to death.
But both Jacob and Sophia did. As did the 3 boys they had left. Fred was 14, John was 8, and Frank was 1.
It said in his obituary, Jacob found God several years earlier. I can only imagine the faith you must have to survive that kind of tragedy.
Jacob and Sophia and the 5 children they lost are all buried in Patton Cemetary in La Porte. The flag is there to commemorate the fact that Jacob also served a time in the Union Army during the Civil War.