I started reading October 1918
issues of the Melrose Beacon and I was drawn to the many
many accounts of local people becoming sick and dying
from the “Spanish Flu”, kept reading and documented some
of the items from the 1918 issue of the Melrose Beacon
for you. I additionally researched this pandemic (a
pandemic is different from an epidemic as it covers a
much wider geographical area – it is worldwide) in my
research I discovered this pandemic claimed more lives
than WWI. WWI claimed an estimated 16 million lives;
the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed an estimated 50
million people. Within months it reportedly killed more
people than any other illness in recorded history and
estimated 675,000 Americans died during this pandemic.
Most flu viruses affect the elderly and young, this flu
was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. Doctors &
healthcare workers were in great demand: besides the
lack of health care workers and medical supplies, there
was a shortage of coffins; morticians and gravediggers,
funeral were limited to 15 minutes. There was some
speculation early on that it was some type of a
biological warfare tool since more soldiers died from
the flu than were killed in battle during this war
however they treated as a flu virus and worked on a
vaccination. Here is some information I found in the
Melrose Beacon about the Influenza Outbreak (Spanish
Flu) of 1918.
October 3, 1918 –
1st Mention of the
Influenza was when the draft call was cancelled.
1st Death report of a
death due to Influenza was Franklyn Lyons. He was at a
training camp at Great Lakes Illinois when he became
sick and died. There was also a report of Leo Kolb who
died at Philadelphia of pneumonia I am not sure if this
October 10, 1918 –
Spring Hill’s Joseph Laubach who
was at a training camp at Wadsworth SC.
Richmond school closed and reported
Reports also of the influenza
spreading at an alarming rate throughout the country and
in soldier camps in US but it made its way to Melrose
with 10 cases reported of people sick.
October 17, 1918 was filled with
articles about the flu one of which came from the local
board of health who advised to NOT close school even
though they had reported cases in the city they stated
none have been reported serious. At the same time the
influenza was running throughout our area and state the
great fires of 1918 to the north were in the headlines,
the headline read “At Least 1,000 Persons Perish in
Forest Fires, Many Villages Gone”, the path was 80 X 100
miles in the Northeastern parts of Minnesota, centering
in Pine and Carlton counties.
October 24, 1918 –
Reported 15 deaths in St. Cloud and
1,229 cases in the county.
November 7, 1918 –
The headlines were big “Many Homes
in City and Country Lose Loved One in Week”. My count
showed in the issue 18 deaths in one week: George
Wampach, Mrs. Anna Barrutt, Mrs. Andrew Spaeth, Mrs.
Walter Winter, Lawrence Winter, Velma Howe, Mrs. Pat
Graham, George Hoffman, Mrs. Louis Sauer, Henry
Hallermann, Johnny Hinnenkamp, Frank Stallo, one year
old baby of Mr & Mrs Joseph Bertram of Spring Hill, Mike
Braun of Spring Hill, Claude Schoener of Freeport, and
Henry Tschida north of Freeport.
November 14, 1918
Headlines read” “influenza adds
more to its list of victims”. Mrs. Peter Spengler,
Aloys Helsper, Robert Mikel, Fred Voeller, Alfred
Rothstein, Mrs. Joseph Moening, Gerald Lent, Mrs. Levi
Nevel, Mrs. August Wiechman, and Carl Finken are the
names I found in this issue. Reports also indicated
that the war was over and the outbreak has subsided and
they were not seeing any new cases, schools were still
November 21, 1918
Headlines read “Influenza Subsiding
in the City”, local schools will re-open on the
following Monday. Death of Mary Klassen reported. Math
Worms, Dina Stroeing, Mrs. George Frevel, John Stroeing,
A. Kraker, Steve Roelicke, Susan Huff, H. B. Otte & Mrs.
Otte have all been reported as ill with the influenza or
recovering from the effects.
November 28, 1918
Schools are again open and it
appears life is returning to normal, gatherings that had
been cancelled are now rescheduled and back on track.
Mrs. Katherine Osendorf of Meier Grove passed away after
being sick with the flu and they reported she passed due
to complications after suffering from the flu. Ted
Zieske recovered, Anton Nietfeld family who were all
very ill with influenza have recovered, Henry Schneider
recovered and is back to bartending at Laubach’s in
Spring Hill, the Seitz family are rapidly recovering,
John Boyer & family who had been confined to their home
are all recovering, Joseph Niehaus was ill for 3 weeks
and he and his family have all recovered. Alma Hockert
a teacher at the Kuefler school district reportedly died
as a result of influenza in St. Cloud.
December 5, 1918
A few reports of sick in the
surrounding areas but nothing in the City of Melrose.
Cecelia Burns, John Spies and son Joseph, Rose Pung,
Mrs. John Altmann & Florence Altmann, Margaret Trossen,
Tony Schaefer, Mrs. Joseph Rohling, and Miss Bernadine
Benolken all reported to be ill but recovering or
December 12, 1819
Paul Trisko passes away, a patient
suffering with asthma and that together with influenza
caused his death.
The pandemic for the most part is
over, the deaths reported after November articles were
related to other factors after suffering with the flu.
Posted with permission. Thank
you Jeanne for this valuable article!