Wednesday's child - Maja Jaensdotter

This Wednesday I remember two little sisters, Maja and Hedda Jaensdotter.

With the discovery of antibiotics in the early 20th century we Americans no long fear many diseases that ravaged earlier generations. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a microscopic, rod-shaped bacterium. The bacteria is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.The majority of individuals who are infected with TB do not go on to have active disease. I know this to be true because as a nurse, the hospital that employed me yearly tested their employees for TB. A good portion of those employees who were born outside the US particularly in what we call "third world countries" tested positive, meaning they had been in contact with the disease but did not actively have TB. Active TB can be triggered when a person's immune system is weakened from malnutrition, alcohol abuse, the very young and the very old. Tuberculosis could take you swiftly as it often did with the young under 3or so years of age. Tuberculosis could go dormant and strike you in later life or just chip away at a person for years with persistent coughing, fatigue, bloody phlegm, fevers and weight loss. "Consumption" or "wasting disease" is another appropriate term used in the past for TB. Half of the folks with active TB will die of TB. In fact  it is thought that maybe 1/7 of all people who ever lived died from Tuberculosis. Young children were generally infected by the adults. 

Maja Jaensdotter was born 12 October 1815 in Kristberg, Östergötland, Sweden. She died 19 April 1817 on the family farm Branshult. "Bröst feber" (chest fever) listed as the cause of her death. could have been pneumonia or the virulent form of TB that often took the very young. Maja was 18 months old.

Her sister, Hedda Maja Jaensdotter born 7 April 1813, had died exactly 2 years to the day earlier on 19 April 1815 of "slag" (stroke). Most likely an encepalitis seizure brought on by TB. She was 2 years old.

How can we presume tuberculosis is to blame? Their mother, Sara Caisa Nilsdotter died, 20 days after Maja, of "lungsot" (tuberculosis) on 9 May 1817. She was 34 years old. I am pretty sure (or at least I hope) she never knew that it was most likely she who infected the little baby daughters she loved and cared for.

Only one of Sara Caisa's children reached adulthood and lucky for me it was Stina Caisa Jaensdotter 20 August 1810 - 3 July 1887. Stina Caisa was destined to be my great great grandmother.
Stina Caisa Jaensdotter→Carl Teodor Andersson Källman→Rikard Severin Källman→Carl Melvin Kallman→me

WTTW Channel11 public television in Chicago had a very interesting program on Tuberculosis last winter. It is available in its entirety online. Well worth your time watching! 

(**double clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing**)

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