Charles Andrew Didio

Pandemic Influenza Storybook

Storyteller: Steve Didio

Location: New York and Pennsylvania

My paternal Great Grandfather, Carlandrea Didio, was born in Villamaina, Italy in 1871. He immigrated to the United States in December of 1899 with his young wife Louisa. As with many immigrants at that time, my great-grandfather chose to “Americanize” his name and became known as Charles Andrew Didio; he went by Andrew. While living in New York City, the family grew in size with the birth of my grandfather Frank and his two younger sisters Lucy and Josephine. Sometime after Josephine’s birth in 1911, they relocated to the Easton, Pennsylvania area, where Andrew found work as an electric furnace repairman for the Iron & Steel Company.

Stories passed down by family members always said that Andrew died relatively young from a serious illness, and it was believed that he had died from the flu. I was able to confirm this by obtaining his death certificate in 2006 from Pennsylvania. I also obtained his 1918 World War I draft registration application from that same year. In September of 1918, at the age of 47, he applied for the draft. But instead of listing his true birthdate of February 1871, he used October 1877 because he was beyond the maximum application age of 46 years. Having this document and knowing that this application also required a physical examination, I know that he was healthy in September 1918. However, three months later, he would be gone, one of the many victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic.  According to the death certificate, Andrew succumbed to “lobar pneumonia” from influenza on December 14, 1918 at the age of 47. Left to mourn his death was his wife Louisa and three children, ages 13, 11 and 7. The family eventually returned to New York City, where future descendants, including myself, were born.