I don’t know about you, but I have been deeply saddened to hear about people dying from the flu in this day and age. It certainly isn’t fun, but I rarely think about it being fatal. The opposite was true 100 years ago. The deadly “Spanish Flu” affected many people, so you may not be surprised to hear that it effected our ancestors in the Russell County area.

I looked in the Adair County News from 1918 for articles about the flu and it was shocking to me. The front page of the paper on October 30, 1918 had many death notices and this article about steps the county was taking. To see the entire front page, click here.

Adair County News, Page1, 1918-10-30

On November 6th, a small section of the paper stated that around 45 people had died within the county because of the flu:

Adair County News, Page1, 1918-11-06

I wrote a blog post back in 2009 when the “swine flu” was in full swing. Part of the post listed people from Russell County whose death certificates indicated that they had died from the Spanish Flu. I’ll re-post that section here. To read the entire blog post, click here.


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


So everyone stay healthy out there! Wash your hands, get plenty of rest, and by all means, if you’re feeling ill, stay home! (And hopefully feel just good enough to get a little genealogy research in!)

Spanish_Flu