As a high school math teacher, I’m VERY aware of the current flu situation, especially as it relates to younger people.  In one grade level at our school 2/3 of the students were home ill yesterday and today. Each day, I spend time disinfecting desks, passing around the bottle of hand sanitizer and watching students for signs of fever.  

I’ve heard this flu epidemic compared to the flu epidemic of 1918 and it made me think about how my ancestors could have been affected.  It takes alot of extra time to work with students who have missed classes, so my library research time has been limited, but Ancestry is available 24/7!  Tonight, I decided to calculate the number of deaths attributed to flu during 1918 in Russell County. 

On Ancestry, for 1918 there were 128 death certificates for Russell County.  25 of those deaths were due to flu and all of those occurred between September and December.  In 1919, there were 11 deaths out of 117 recorded.  I thought the number would be higher, so I wonder if that means a lower population (hmmm, the math teacher in me wants to figure out the percentage) or if families were more spread out or if the flu in this part of the state wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.  During the same time, there were many still births and a few with unknown causes of death and I wonder if those were flu related.  I made a list of documented flu deaths for Russell County.  I am absolutely CERTAIN that some of these names are incorrect.  The handwriting on some of these certificates was very difficult to read!  I didn’t find anyone from my family in these certificates, but I thought they might be helpful to someone. The list format is image number – cause of death;  name – age – date of death. 

1918

65 – Spanish influenza;   Lanis Biba – age 10 – 9/14
66 – Spanish influenza;    Dortha Grant – age 1 – 9/18
67 – Pneumonia complicated by Spanish influenza;   Robert Grant –age 32 –;   9/16
70 – Haematimesis – caused possibly from influenza;   Avert Andrew Meece – age 6 mos – 10/24
72 – Pneumonia following influenza;   Voda Thomas – age 34 – 10/25
75 –  Influenza;   Lilian Johnson – age 2 – 10/25
76 – Influenza;   Cora Wilson – age 34 – 10/26
77 – Influenza;   Evona Wilson – age 2 – 10/27
78 – Asthma and influenza;   Lola McBeath – age 21 – 10/30
79 – Influenza;   Ollie McGormd – age 22 – 10/27
81 – Influenza;   Rosa Gosser – age 13 – 10/19
82 – Influenza;   Medron Weir – age 2 – 10/19
84 – Influenza;   Lucy Muses – age 21 – 10/17
87 – 5 months child caused from mother having influenza;   Sallie Grider – 10/16
89 – Influenza;   Bertha Downey – no age – 10/22
94 – Influenza;   Estal Popplewell – age 5 – 11/5
96 – Spanish Influenza;   Reltz Morgan – age 35 – 12/3
104 – Influenza;   Doretha Tarter – age 39 – 12/29
106 – Asthma and influenza;   Vinnie Wade – age 21 – 12/29
107 – Influenza;   Maggie McKinley Cook – age 17 – 12/17
110 – Influenza;   Verl G. Jasper – age 26 – 12/31
111 – Influenza;   Wealthy Perkins – age 38 – 11/11
114 – Influenza;   Pauline Ross – age 5 – 12/20
115 – Influenza;   Anibell Johnson – age 38 – 12/11
122 – Spanish Influenza;   Tina Morgan – age 41 – 12/5

1919

4 – Influenza;   Stanley Brown – age 14 – 1/15
5 – Influenza;   James Cecil – age 8 mos – 1/17
6 – Influenza;   Annie Kearns – age 34 – 1/16
7 – Pneumonia following flu;   Rutha Eliza Morrow – age 63 – 1/3
8 – Influenza;   Bennie D Wilson – age 1 – 1/20
10 – Influenza;   Jackson Jasper – age 4 mos – 1/11
24 – Influenza;   ?? J. Gossage – age 26 – 2/23
31 – Flu;   Alta E Wilson – age 2 – 2/16
35 – Bronco Pneumonia resulting from influenza;   Alma Harris – age 23 – 4/3
48 – Epilepsy (contributory Influenza);   John Q Phelps – age 60 – 6/24
53 – Influenza;   Jonathon Blakey – age 82 – 6/11

After making this list, I decided to do a simple count for Adair County as well.   In 1918, there were 76 deaths out of 296 due to the flu.

How long will the current flu epidemic last?  I don’t know, but I hope it isn’t 2 years like the Spanish Flu epidemic was!

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