Headlines during the fall of 1918 consist of news regarding WW I. The
nation was very patriotic, and many of the pages of newspapers reflect this.
Citizens banding together to come to the aid of the country, the men
and the families of the United States of America. As you browse through
each page, you find the sad stories of mothers and wives losing their loved
ones to the ravages of war. As the months progress, you also follow the story
of the Spanish flu, making it's way from the back pages of the newspapers
to take it's place alongside the war, on the front page and in the annals
The Spanish flu, also known as the "Spanish Lady," is said to have
originated in the United States at Fort Riley KS, the first of 107 cases
being reported on 11 March, 1918. The original source is said to have been
in Europe, most likely in Spain. As servicemen were shipped overseas
to Europe, they came in contact with the bug. When they began to return home,
the epidemic hit the East coast ports like wildfire. In a short time,
the flu made it's way to 46 states, killing more than 500,000 people by December
1918, and leaving 20 million seriously ill citizens to fight the disease.
Illinois was directly in it's path. At Camp Grant, in Rockford,
Illinois, 115 soldiers died in a 24 hour period. The production of
coffins could not keep up with the number of deaths occurring each day,
in each city. Social clubs cancelled meetings until further notice;
town meetings and even political campaigns were put on hold. City
streets were hosed down each day. People venturing out into the cities
were required to wear a protective mask. Mass panic and mass destruction
of this nation's citizens was occurring throughout most states in the union.
Washington D. C. Directive
sent to Naval Establishments
Chicago, 16 October, 1918
As reported in the East St. Louis Journal
City and State Health authorities were to meet here today to give their
final decision on the question of closing of churches, saloons, cabarets,
schools, pool rooms and ice cream parlors as a result of influenza.
An order closing theaters and movie picture houses went into effect yesterday
During the last 24 hours, there were 317 deaths in Chicago alone, due
to the epidemic. There were 2,221 new cases reported in the city.
According to reports compiled by Dr. C. St. Clair Drake, State Health
Commissioner, the disease has affected 300,000 persons in the State of Illinois.
...the flu was officially declared an epidemic in Illinois in October
This particular article reappears quite often in the East St. Louis Journal
during the fall of 1918:
THE SPANISH FLU
Go to bed and stay quiet, take a laxative, eat plenty of nourishing food,
keep up your strength, nature is the "cure."
ALWAYS CALL A DOCTOR
No Occasion for panic
Spanish Influenza, which appeared in Spain in May, has all the appearances
of grip or la grippe, which has swept over the world in numerous epidemics
far back as history runs. Hippocrates refers to an epidemic in 412
BC, which is regarded by many to have been influenza. Every century
has had its attacks. Beginning with 1831, this country has had five epidemics,
the last in 1889-90.
Grippe, or influenza, as it is now called, usually begins with a chill
followed by aching, feverishness and sometimes nausea and dizziness, and a
general feeling of weakness and depression. The temperature is from
100 to 104, and the fever usually lasts from three to five days. the
germs attack the mucous membrane, or lining of the air passages: nose,
throat and bronchial tubes, there is usually a hard cough, especially bad
at night, oftentimes a sore throat or tonsillitis and frequently all the appearances
of a severe head cold.
Go to bed at the first symptoms, not only for your own sake, but to avoid
spreading the disease to others; take a purgative, eat plenty of nourishing
food, remain perfectly quiet and don't worry. Quinine, aspirin or Dover's
Powder, etc., may be administered by the physician's directions to relieve
the aching. But there is no cure for influenza, the disease must run
its course, but nature will throw off the attack if only you keep up your
strength. The chief danger lies in the complications which may arise.
Influenza so weakens the bodily resistance that there is danger of
pneumonia or bronchitis developing, and sometimes inflammation of the middle
ear (*note, my great grandmother lost her hearing due to the flu during this
time), or heart affections. for these reasons, it is very important
that the patient remain in bed until his strength returns, stay in bed at
least two days or more after the fever has left you, or if you are over 50
or not strong, stay in bed four days or more, according to the severity of
In order to stimulate the lining of the air passages to throw off the
grip germs, to aid in loosening the phlegm and keeping the air passages
open, thus making the breathing easier, Vick's VapoRub will be found effective
(*my family still uses Vicks to this day!). Hot, wet towels should be applied
over the throat, chest and back between the shoulder blades to open the pores.
Then VapoRub should be rubbed in over the parts until the skin is red, spread
on thickly and covered with two thicknesses of hot flannel cloths. Leave
the clothing loose around the neck as the heat of the body liberates the
ingredients in the form of vapors. These vapors, inhaled with each
breath, carry the medication directly to the parts affected. At the same
time, VapoRub is absorbed thru and stimulates the skin, attracting the blood
to the surface, and thus aids in relieving the congestion within.
How to avoid the disease
Evidence seems to prove that this is a germ disease, spread principally
by human contact, chiefly thru coughing, sneezing or spitting (folks were
fined in some cities for spitting in public). So avoid persons having
colds, which means avoiding crowds, common drinking cups, roller towels,
etc. Keep up your bodily strength by plenty of exercise in the open
air, and good food. Above all, keep free from colds, as colds irritate the
lining of the air passages and render them much better breeding places for
Use Vick's VapoRub at the very first sign of a cold. For a head
cold, melt a little VapoRub in a spoon and inhale the vapors, or better
still, use VapoRub in a benzoin steam kettle. If this is not available,
use an ordinary tea-kettle. Fill half-full of boiling water, put in
half a teaspoon of VapoRub from time to time, keep the kettle just slowly
boiling and inhale the steam arising.
NOTE: Vick's VapoRub is the discovery of a North Carolina druggist,
who found how to combine, in salve form Menthol and Campher with such volatile
oils as Eucalyptus, Thyme, etc., so that when the salve is applied to the
body heat, the ingredients are liberated in the form of vapors.
TAKEN FROM THE HENRY NEWS REPUBLICAN,
OCTOBER 17, 1918
Local News Items
Donated by Nancy Piper
papers say that there are 300,000 cases of flu in Illinois. The closing of
schools, churches, fraternal societies, places of amusement and all other
places for public gatherings is general throughout the state.
THE INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC
(Special to Henry
Chicago, Oct. 15 --
The results of a state wide survey by telegraph of every Illinois community
of 1,000 population or over, given out here tonight by Dr. C. St. Clari Drake,
director of the state department of public health, show that 227 cities and
towns in Illinois have been hit by the epidemic of Spanish influenza. The
number of cases reported in these communities in 55,725 of which 17,943 are
in Chicago, and 37,782 down state. There have been 2,264 deaths from influenza
and pneumonia in Chicago and 491 in the down state communities which have
Convinced that the
epidemic had reached proportions which required prompt and vigorous measures,
teh state department of health has ordered that all theaters, including moving
picture shows, all night schools, all lodges and all places of public amusement,
closed until the epidemic subsides. All public schools which are lacking
in adequate medical and nursing supervision were included in the order.
"From the information
we now have", said Dr. Drake, "we believe that every community in Illinois
will be affected by influenza before the epidemic subsides. On the basis
of the reports which reached us today, we estimate that there are now more
than 170,000 cases in the state outside of Chicago.
An analysis of the
influenza situation in Chicago today shows that the epidemic has not reached
its crest here. Fore the week ending September 28, there were 598 cases reported
in Chicago with 176 deaths. During the week ending October 7 there were 6,106
cases reported with 627 deaths. The week which ended October 14 produced
11,239 cases and 1,461 deaths. The total number of deaths from influenza
and pneumonia in Chicago during the past three weeks was 2,264 compared with
an average of 156 for the same period during the past five years.
Although the situation
is bad in many down state communities, it will get worse before it gets better,
according to members of the state influenza commission, which meets daily.
The town of Assumption in Christian county, with a population of 1,918 has
reported 500 cases and has called for help. There are only four doctors and
one registered nurse in the town.
Greenup, with a population
of 1,224, reported 400 cases. Two doctors live in Greenup and both are ill
with influenza. Peoria reports 10,000 cases and Rockford 6,000. In Peoria
two emergency hospitals have been equipped, and in Rockford, medical help
has been loaned from Camp Grant, where the epidemic is rapidly being brought
More than 1,200 cases
have been reported in Kankakee. Cairo reports500. Marengo, with a population
of 1,872, reported 496 and has asked for the help of outside doctors and
nurses. Nokomis, which has a population of 1,973 has reported over 600 cases
with no hospital facilities available. Bloomington reports 1,200 cases with
The state health department
urges extreme care in order to prevent, so far as possible, the needless
further spread of the contagion. All persons are warned to keep away from
crowds, to avoid the person who sneezes, coughs and spits without covering
the face with a cloth, and to consult a physician immediately upon the first
symptoms of what may seem to be an ordinary cold.
As the disease took
it's toll, national officials began to worry that tuberculosis would strike
the afflicted next:
The DuQuoin Tribune, 1918
ADVICE TO "FLU CONVALESCENTS"
U. S. Health Service Issues Warning
"Increases in all Respiratory Diseases after the Influenza Epidemic Probable.
Spain and England report increase in Tuberculosis after Influenza Epidemic."
Washington, D. C.-(special)-According to a report made to the United States public Health
Service, the epidemic of influenza in spain has already caused an increase
in the prevalence and deaths from pulmonary tuberculosis. A similar
association between influenza and tuberculosis was recently made by sir
Arthur Newsholme, the chief medical officer of the English public health
service, in his analysis of the tuberculosis death rate in England.
In order that the people of the United States may profit by the experience
of other countries Surgeon General Rupert BLUE of the United States Public
Health Service has just issued a warning emphasizing the need of special
precautions at the present time. "Experience seems to indicate," says the
Surgeon General, "that persons whose resistance has been weakened by an attack
of influenza are peculiarly susceptible to tuberculosis. With millions
of its people recently affected with influenza this country now offers conditions
favoring the spread of tuberculosis."
As with anything else, there are those who choose to turn the profit at
another's expense. Taking advantage of the misery of others were fly
by night "snake oil salesmen" who offered the "cure" in a bottle. The
Surgeon General can be found warning citizens against unscrupulous patent
medicine fakers: "Above all do not trust in the misleading statements
of unscrupulous patent medicine fakers. there is no specific medicine for
the cure of tuberculosis. the money spent on such medicines is thrown away;
it should be spent instead for good food and decent living." In other
articles, citizens were warned about these medicine fakers when it came to
the "cure for the flu" as well. The Government did receive numerous
"home remedy" suggestions, such as:
"Take two or three large, ripe but fresh red peppers of the hot variety,
chop fine, put them in an open stew pan with plenty of water to cook them.
Set on the stove and boil nicely for an hour or more, or two hours
would be better, keeping enough water to prevent their burning or getting
dry. Have outside windows and doors closed, or mostly so, the object
being to permit the vapor to permeate all the air of the living apartments
that the patient may inhale this impregnated air as strongly as he can take
of it for the time stated above. This will cause a looseness of the
cold and a coughing and sneezing. Either it kills the germs of the disease
or causes the system to throw it off. In some cases a second treatment
might be needed."
"Almost a sure cure is inhaling smoke from wood or wet or damp straw or
hay that will not burn very fast but make a good smoke and inhale for 10
minutes or so, and a few treatments will cure it. It is said the flu starts
in the nasal cavities and not in the throat as some think but finally reaches
the throat organs. Burn oak, hickory, ash wood, also corn cobs, anything
that will make good smoke and it will kill the germs."
A Georgia physician sent his advice...he had avoided yellow fever this
"I believe when the system is thoroughly saturated with the sulphur, as
suggested, it will prevent the germs of any disease from attacking the system.
there is no doubt the sulphur will penetrate the system readily,for
when one takes sulphur in the system and has a silver dollar in his pocket,
it will be turned black, caused by the sulphuretted hydrogen. Try
it and see. Now it would be very little trouble to have the boys in
the camps carry out this suggestion and thus break up the disease which
is causing so much suffering and a great many deaths."
"To ease the patient, saturate a small piece of clean white cloth or cotton
with alcohol, adding three drops of chloroform and place between the patient's
teeth, letting him inhale the fumes of the alcohol and chloroform."
And, presented in the E. St. Louis Journal
Members of the Illinois influenza pneumonia commission last night were
roused to high enthusiasm by authoritative reports of startling cures of apparently
The treatment has been used successfully in a long series of cases at
the naval hospital at Chelsea, outside Boston, and first hand information
based on interviews with the physicians who originated and used the method
was brought to the commission by Dr. Herman N. BUNDESEN, who was sent east
by Health Commissioner John Dill ROBERTSON.
Serum is Injected
In a word, the treatment consists of the injection of a serum extracted
from the blood of persons who have recovered from the influenza-pneumonia.
And the commission discussed the possibility of obtaining supply for use
in extreme cases by volunteers from the ranks of the jackies at Great Lakes
and the soldiers of Camp Grant, probably 20,000 of whom have passed through
Supply is limited
The commission emphasized that by no means will it be possible to produce
a supply of serum sufficient to treat every person affected by the epidemic
or even a large percentage of them. But the members did see in the
discovery a chance to save many human lives.
They also wanted it made plain to the public that the serum is absolutely
a different article from the vaccine which is to be manufactured under the
commission's direction after this method of Dr. E. C. ROSENOW of the Mayo
foundation. That vaccine is a preventive and is administered to
persons who are well. The serum is a cure and is administered to sick
Of course, no cure was found. So many families were lost to this
virus in such a short time. There were those who could not afford to
bury their dead. Many times, officials would find bodies stored in homes.
Due to the quick spreading of the disease, many family members would
be found dead in their homes, sometimes with one sick child remaining and
living among the bodies. One man, Peter MARRAZO of Chicago, lost his
mind and slit the throats of his wife and four children. He told officials
"I'll cure them my own way!"
Miscellaneous Deaths from
Statewide Epidemics listed by year
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