Sunday, April 5, 2020

F.F. Bosworth's Connection to the Spanish Flu

His first wife, Estelle, was possibly a victim of the deadly virus

By Roscoe Barnes III, PhD
Author, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind "Christ the Healer"
Copyright (c) 2020


F.F. Bosworth is pictured here with his first wife, Estelle, their oldest daughter, Vivien, and baby Athabelle.


When the Spanish flu broke out in 1918, causing a terrifying pandemic, it affected millions of people, including, quite possibly, the family of F.F. Bosworth. Despite his long held belief in miracles and divine healing, and the blessings of a 10-year Pentecostal revival, his first wife, Estelle Hyde Bosworth, apparently fell prey to the deadly virus. She died on November 16, 1919.

"Influenza, terminating in tuberculosis of the lungs, had attacked Mrs. Bosworth," writes Eunice M. Perkins in Joybringer Bosworth: His Life Story (John J. Scruby, 1921).

Perkins does not use the term "Spanish flu," and she does not mention the worldwide impact of the virus. But given the timeframe of the illness, including her use of the term "influenza," it seems highly probable that Estelle was a victim of the pandemic, which lasted from 1918 to 1919. (Some sources say it ended in 1920.)

Perkins' account of Estelle's death is also featured in the second edition of Bosworth's biography, which is titled, Fred Francis Bosworth: His Life Story (F.F. Bosworth, 1927). An excerpt is featured in the image below. 

According to Perkins, Estelle's demise was also due to her tendency to "overwork, until it had become such a fixed habit in her life as to make her an easy victim of disease." She reports the young mother had been healed "repeatedly" of various illnesses. However, this time "she would succumb to the tendency to go beyond His will and her strength, until it seemed best to Him to call her ... Home to Himself."

In telling this tragic story, Perkins explains that it occurred on the heels of other unfortunate events, which included the death of their four-year-old son, Vernon. He was their only son, and he reportedly died "several years" before his mother. Fred, notes Perkins, found comfort in the belief that Estelle would see their son in heaven. "Now Stella and Vernon are together," he said. "She was always so fond of him."

Fred and Estelle married in November 1900. She was 37 at the time of her death.

Source: Fred Francis Bosworth: His Life Story by Eunice M. Perkins (F.F. Bosworth, 1927)

Further reading

"How Pentecostals Responded to the 1918 'Spanish Influenza' Pandemic: Lessons from Assemblies of God history" by Dr. Daniel D. Isgrigg. See article here.


Reminder: "F.F. Bosworth History" is now on Twitter. Follow @bosworth_fred

Note: My book, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind "Christ the Healer," can be purchased here with a 25% discount. Use the discount code: bosworth25.


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Visit the F.F. Bosworth page here. Questions about the research and commentary on F.F. Bosworth may be directed to Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., via email at or For updates on F.F. Bosworth history, simply follow this blog or @bosworth_fred and @Roscoebarnes3 on Twitter. #ChristTheHealer #BosworthMention #BosworthMatters

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