Miss Hazel V. Thoen – circa 1900 photograph by S. C. Sargent – later, as a 28-year-old married woman, Hazel was a Spanish flu victim in 1918 – Taylors Falls' first of two victims.
Hazel Veneta Thoen was born in Taylors Falls on January 19, 1890. She was the second child of Hans Thoen, a Norwegian immigrant, and his first wife, the former Miss Nannie Lagerwall, a Swedish immigrant. Hans Thoen operated a general mercantile store in Taylors Falls for many years (his last/1903 store building has in recent times housed Schoony's Malt Shop & Pizzeria). Hazel had an older sister she never knew, Gladys "Nina" Thoen, who died at about one year in 1887.
Hazel obtained most of her public education in Taylors Falls but graduated from the Central High School in St. Paul. She attended the University of Minnesota for four years and became a teacher and then taught school in Taylors Falls for two years. In June 1917, she married the Reverend William F. Hood, Jr. (an Episcopalian minister) of Barron Co., Wis. In 1918 (in World War I), Lieut. Wm. Hood was serving as a chaplain with the American Expeditionary Forces in France.
On October 21, 1918, at age 28, Hazel died at her widowed father's home on River Street (now 637 River St.) in Taylors Falls. She was a victim of the Spanish Influenza epidemic of that era. She succumbed to a heart attack, following a severe bout of pneumonia brought on by the flu. Hazel was still without child, and at the time of her passing she was serving as the president of the Taylors Falls Library Association, as well as secretary of the Taylors Falls Branch of the Chisago County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The Rev. Hood never remarried and resided for many years in Door Co., Wis., which is where he died in 1952.
Hazel was the first of only two Taylors Falls residents to die as a result of the World War I-era Spanish flu. The other local victim was 32-year-old Mrs. Carl Edward (Anna) Pearson (the former Miss Anna Christina Nelson) who died on December 10, 1918. Anna was survived by her husband and three young children: Russell, Kenneth and Verna (Verna became the first wife of Alton Berg).
One other Spanish flu victim known to be closely associated with Taylors Falls was Herman A. Williams who died at age 28 about a month before Hazel. Herman, who had been serving in the U.S. Army in Europe, died in a hospital in England on September 28, 1918. Herman was still single, but like Hazel was born in 1890 and died of the same factors. Herman was raised just west of Taylors Falls and attended school in Taylors Falls. His remains were returned to Taylors Falls for burial. – Jack P. Liljenberg
Hazel's obituary said, in part, "Hazel was of reserved disposition and made few close friends but those who had her friendship and confidence were loyal to her and she held these friendships thru the years. . . ."