Idaho History July 18, 2021

Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic

Part 64

Idaho Newspaper clippings November 20-28, 1919

Idaho photos courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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November 20

Evening Capital News., November 20, 1919, Page14

19191120ECN1

19191120ECN2What Science Now Has to Say About Influenza Dangers
By Dr. Leonard Keene Hirshberg
A. B., M. A., M. D. (Johns Hopkins University)

You may be at present intensely concerned about influenza and wish to know what has been discovered about it, as well as what you can do to ward it off and to do away with it.

Influenza will, perhaps, ever be with us. Facts, however, indicate that it will not be as complicated and as fatal as it was in October and November, 1918.

After malign epidemics of measles, smallpox, scarletina and yellow fever those infections remain “in our midst,” but in a less severe form. Similarly will it be with Influenza.

It has been found upon investigation of last year’s millions of victims that only about 7 per cent of those exposed to its depredations fell ill with the distemper. While the mortality rate from influenza and the pneumonia complication ran as high as 60 to 75 per cent in some localities, only 7 per cent of the total population really had the malady. This means that at its worst some 93 in every 100 Americans escaped its clutches.

Dr. Franklin C. Gram, the acting health commissioner of Buffalo, found that there is very little to fear from tuberculosis as a sequence of influenza. Among some 33,880 victims there were only eight with tuberculosis. That is the number you would ordinarily look for among any normal group. There are few remnants of the disease left after recovery.

The complications were pneumonia, loss of hair and ear troubles, but there were few after-claps. Restoration to health is practically certain and complete in most instances.

Drs. A. G. Love and C. B. Davenport, in a very recent number of the Archives of Internal Medicine, show that children and individuals who are city bred and who live in crowded, congested quarters appear able to resist influenza better than rural residents.

It seems that at least 25 per cent more victims of influenza, 10 per cent more pneumonia and 30 per cent more sickness in general occurred in rural communities than in urban districts. This curious, unexpected situation is contrary to that expected from the popular belief in and praise of country life. Perhaps it is due to the fact that congestion and dirt breed disease early and the weaklings are thus killed off and eliminated in city life before adult age is reached.

While it is perhaps cruel and heartless to expose infants to the early deaths so common in the thickly populated sections of big cities, there are many facts to show that those who survive to the twenties are more resistant to dirt, disease and microbes than many who in babyhood and youth were protected from all such exposure.

source: Evening Capital News. (Boise, Idaho), 20 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Grangeville Globe. November 20, 1919, Page5

19191120GG1

Make It 10,000
Lewiston Chapter, American Red Cross Spending Thousands

When the citizens of Idaho, Lewis and Nez Perce Counties give their dollars for membership in the Red Cross, it must not be forgotten that several thousands of these membership dollars will be spent in these three counties during 1920.

In the first place, the splendid Public Health program now being started by the Red Cross will soon be under way in the Lewiston Chapter. Two nurses have already been engaged and in addition to this public health work, the Chapter has employed a graduate nurse for each of the three counties to give instruction in Home Hygiene and Care of Sick. Every community in the chapter jurisdiction will have this wonderful opportunity to better public and individual health conditions, at no expense to those taking the courses. Your membership dollars help pay for this greatly needed work.

Another branch of Red Cross activity now being conducted by the Lewiston Chapter in behalf of returned service men of the three counties, is the Home Service Section.

Your Dollars Aid in Home Service

Up to the present time the Home Service Section of the Lewiston chapter has attended to over 400 cases of soldiers and sailors in Lewis, Idaho and Nez Perce Counties, 88 of these men were disabled in some manner, and are receiving special attention Ten of them are tubercular; fourteen have received treatment in hospitals; many have received financial aid for their families. In all these cases the Lewiston Red Cross chapter has supplemented and aided the government in every possible way. A trained secretary is employed to give assistance in all cases of need. The secretary keeps in touch with all service men who have needed advice or aid, and with all families in similar need. This work is supported entirely by your Red Cross dollars, and will continue until the last man returns home from service, or from the hospitals.

The Red Cross Canteen

Although the numbers are dwindling gradually, eight, ten, twelve or more service men are returning each week, and are being met at the train by a uniformed Canteen worker. Until the last boy returns Lewiston Chapter will see that the returning men are cared for and all their needs satisfied, when they reach Lewiston to stay, or pass through to their homes in the three counties.

The Junior Red Cross is another of the branches of work that is being continued with greater emphasis than ever. There are almost 3,000 junior workers in the three counties.

These are some of the reasons why the people of our district have a special interest in seeing the 10,000 membership mark reached. We want to know that all the advantages of the American Red Cross may be available to our people now, as well as in time of great emergency, such as was experienced in the influenza epidemic of last year.

Idaho, Nez Perce and Lewis Counties have 8800 members of the American Red Cross.

Make it 10,000. All you need is a heart and a dollar.

source: The Grangeville Globe. (Grangeville, Idaho), 20 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Quartzburg, Idaho

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Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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November 24

Evening Capital News., November 24, 1919, Page 10

19191124ECN1

19191124ECN2Twins Born To Wife Of Service Man Who Died Of Influenza

Twins, a boy and a girl were born last Thursday to Mrs. Fields Caldwell at her home, 1143 River street. Mr. Caldwell was in the service, contracted influenza and died some months ago of pneumonia.

Mrs. Caldwell has two other children but is especially proud of the twins her one great regret being that her husband did not live that he might enjoy them with her. Mother and babies are getting along well and she is planning for the future with a happy, glad heart, bravely willing to make the sacrifice necessary to raise her kiddies, although alone in the world.

source: Evening Capital News. (Boise, Idaho), 24 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Daily Star-Mirror., November 24, 1919, Page 6

19191124DSM1

19191124DSM2Disease is Ever Lurking at This Season Waiting for a Victim too Weak to Combat It

Use precautionary methods at this season and guard your system against attacks of disease.

Colds, Coughs, Grippe, Influenza, Tonsillitis and other cold weather ailments should be treated promptly and with remedies that are known to be effective.

We carry all of the popular preparations known to medical science and we can suggest a good one for use in any special case.

If seriously ill consult your physician – but when preventive measures are sought – see us.

“Better Be Safe Than Sorry”

Corner Drug Store – C. E. Bolles, Proprietor

source: The Daily Star-Mirror. (Moscow, Idaho), 24 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Rathdrum, Idaho Main Street, South Side ca. 1915

Rathdrum1915Fritz-a

Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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November 25

The Idaho Republican. November 25, 1919, Page10

19191125TIR1

Moreland

Placards from the Children’s Home at Boise have arrived. They are asking for a Thanksgiving offering large enough to offset last years’ lack of offering caused by the influenza epidemic. This is a very worthy cause and should receive loyal support.

Dr. Patrie was here on official business last Monday. He paid the school a visit and left instructions as how to protect the children from contagion. While here he quarantined the homes of Mr. Thompson and Mr. Furniss for chickenpox.

The teaching of patriotism is not forgotten by our school faculty. You should hear and see the children sing “America,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “Idaho,” from memory; take the pledge to the flag and repeat “The American Creed.”

source: The Idaho Republican. (Blackfoot, Idaho), 25 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Main Street, Reubens, Idaho

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Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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November 26

Evening Capital News., November 26, 1919, Page 2

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19191126ECN2

source: Evening Capital News. (Boise, Idaho), 26 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Main Street, Rexburg, Idaho (2)

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Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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November 27

The Grangeville Globe. November 27, 1919, Page5

19191127GG1

Winona News

(Special Correspondence)

Mrs. T. M. Atwood, who has been very sick with the influenza is convalescent.

J. S. Adair who has been very sick for the past two weeks is improving.

Mrs. Rome Morris is seriously ill.

source: The Grangeville Globe. (Grangeville, Idaho), 27 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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View on Main Street, Richfield, Idaho ca. 1910 (1)

Richfield1910Fritz-a

Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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November 28

The Rathdrum Tribune., November 28, 1919, Page1

19191128RT1

19191128RT2
Classify Diseases
State Experts Investigating Pneumonia Germs

Boise, Idaho. – Preparations for an extensive study of pneumococci, the bacteria which causes croupous pneumonia, are under way at the state bacteriological laboratory. Dr. Paul A. Mader, state bacteriologist, said Friday that an effort will be made to classify every case of pneumonia found in the state this winter.

Three important results are expected to come from this investigation, the first affecting most intimately the patient and the physician in charge. By examining samples of the bacteria developed in the patient’s body, the state expert will discover to what class of pneumonia it belongs. If it should happen to belong to a class for which a serum has been discovered, the state will suggest the use of that serum to save the patient’s life.

Another result will be the value of the investigation in the anti-influenza campaign now being waged in the nation. Since pneumonia is often a result of influenza, study of the pneumonia bacteria may bring to light new and interesting facts relative to the still mysterious malady, influenza.

The third result will be purely scientific. It is not generally known, according to Doctor Mader, that there are several different kinds of pneumonia. As a matter of fact, however, there are five separate and distinct types of the disease, a serum having been perfected for only one. There is also an atypical pneumonia which requires still different consideration.

source: The Rathdrum Tribune. (Rathdrum, Idaho), 28 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Evening Capital News., November 28, 1919, Page1

19191128ECN1

19191128ECN2Sergeant York’s Wife Pines For Mountains

St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 28. — The wife of the “war’s greatest hero” wants to go home to Tennessee.

And so Sergeant Alvin C. York today considered cancelling his speaking engagements to take his little mountain wife back to the Tennessee hills away from the smoke and grime of the big cities, which physicians think contributed to her present illness with influenza.

source: Evening Capital News. (Boise, Idaho), 28 Nov. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Evening Capital News., November 28, 1919, Page 4

19191128ECN3How Bacteria Are Employed To Save You From Their Kind
By Dr. Leonard Keene Hirshberg
A. B., M. A., M. D. (Johns Hopkins University)

“Doctor,” asked a patient of mine recently “do you advise the serum to prevent influenza-pneumonia?”

“You are like many others,” I said. “You say serum, but you mean vaccine.”

“What is the difference?” quoth he. “One poor layman cannot be expected to know.”

“Well, a serum is what its name implies – blood with the clot removed. Mixtures used to prevent diseases such as typhoid, flu-pneumonia, whooping cough, smallpox, rabies and others are all vaccines compounded of microbes that are made poisonless.”

“What do you mean? How can the deadly typhoid microbe be made poisonless?”

“Well,” I replied, “I’ll pass over your erroneous English. By a microbe is usually meant an animalcule. The little demons of most infectious diseases are bacteria. These are vegetable creatures, no animal.”

To make bacilli poisonless advantage is taken of the discoveries of a great Frenchman, Louis Pasteur and a great Englishman, Almoth E. Wright.

Bacteria and microbes cause much of the severe sickness in the world. They make you sick by their rapidity of breeding and by the poisons called “toxins,” which these hordes of microscopically small plants discharge.

Many of them manufacture an internal poison, called “endotoxin.”

This latter one is loosed on the victim in whose blood and tissues the bacilli are at work. They are more easily attacked and destroyed by the human fabric than is the endotoxin.

Antibodies of Combat.

This poison is really incorporated in the meshes of the microbes and bacteria themselves. It is part and parcel of every manjack of them. To be rid of the endotoxins the bacteria themselves much be annihilated.

However, the very presence of both these toxins in man is enough to make his living texture generate and manufacture material to combat them. These are called antibodies which are antidotes to them. Just as we overproduced poison gas and ammunition once we got started to fight, so the living animal produces more antibodies than it needs.

The exotoxin, which is solvent thing and discharged externally by the bacteria, produces an antibody like itself, dissolved in the serum of the subject that was sick or inoculated with the germs.

This antibody can be obtained then by bleeding the subject, sterilized, bottled and used in other persons’ blood in an emergency to give them temporary immunity.

Ways to Immunity.

This is a serum or antitoxin of which there are only a few, such as diphtheria and lockjaw. The bacilli of those diseases produce both kinds of toxins, endo and exo.

Unhappily, it is not possible to separate the exotoxins from the endotoxins of the influenza, smallpox, pneumonia, whooping cough, hydrophobia, typhoid and other germs. There is no antitoxin or serum of these – only vaccines.

The way the endotoxins of these are used is to utilize the whole bacterium of microbes. These are killed and injected into the flesh of those of us who are alert and practical enough to protect ourselves against these plagues.

Dead bacteria have almost as much of the toxins in them as the live ones, but they cannot keep on replacing what is lost. They can be injected, therefore, in small numbers so they cannot produce disease, yet still be capable of stirring your flesh and blood to make enough antibodies to keep you immune three to five years.

To be free and safe from those ailments, you must be re-inoculated as they do in the hospitals, the army and the navy, namely every couple of years.

If you inoculate yourself with a toxinless mixture of five billion influenza bacilli, hemolytic cocci and pneumonia cocci, you may escape epidemic influenza and pneumonia and yet “catch cold.” If you do, a bacteriologist will examine the “cold” and make a vaccine of the particular bacillus at fault. You can then give yourself an injection of these killed and thus escape a return of this annoyance.

(ibid, page 4)
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Further Reading

The American’s Creed

posted by William Tyler Page

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

– Written 1917, accepted by the United States House of Representatives on April 3, 1918.

source: US History
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Soldiers at the Great Northern Depot, Rathdrum, Idaho

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Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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Sergeant York

Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964), also known as Sergeant York, was one of the most decorated United States Army soldiers of World War I. He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, gathered 35 machine guns, killing at least 25 enemy soldiers and capturing 132 prisoners. York’s Medal of Honor action occurred during the United States-led portion of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, which was intended to breach the Hindenburg line and force the Germans to surrender. He earned decorations from several allied countries during WWI, including France, Italy and Montenegro.

continued: Wikipedia
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A look at how east Idahoans handled a pandemic a little over a century ago

Dec 22, 2020 Brittni Johnson, EastIdahoNews.com

1918IdahoRedCross-aCourtesy The North End

It was December 1918 when a heartbreaking obituary was posted in The Teton Peak Chronicle about two young mothers who had contracted a lethal disease.

Pearl Willard, 26, and Myrtle Foster, 24, lay on their death beds in separate homes in St. Anthony, but their last thoughts were of each other.

“A peculiar incident occurred just before the death of these two sisters who lived about two blocks from each other,” the newspaper article stated. “Just before she died, Mrs. Myrtle Foster said: ‘Come on, Pearl, and go with me.’”

According to those who were at the other bedside, Pearl replied, “Yes, Myrtle, I’m coming.”

Myrtle died at 12:15 a.m., and Pearl followed at 1:10 a.m.

Former Brigham Young University-Idaho student Diana Victoria Lucier, wrote a 2008 Spanish flu report, and said the deaths of these two women left a total of seven children motherless, and both women left behind 2-month-old babies.

Today, the world faces its own pandemic from COVID-19, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time the world, or eastern Idaho itself has weathered a severe or global illness.

A little over a century ago, eastern Idahoans were dealing with a major health crisis of their own.

The origins of Spanish flu

It was near the end of World War I when a killer flu strain began to infect people in different parts of the world. In the United States, the virus — also known as the 1918 influenza pandemic or “Spanish flu” – was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.

It’s not clear where the Spanish flu originated, but the damage it left behind was devastating enough the CDC says it “was the most severe pandemic in recent history.”

The virus infected around 500 million people worldwide which was about 26 percent of the globe’s population, according to the CDC. The virus claimed the lives of millions of victims. The death toll is estimated to be between 20 million to 50 million people worldwide — more than all of the soldiers and civilians killed during World War I. Due to a lack of medical record-keeping, other estimates run the death toll as high as 100 million.

About 675,000 Americans died, and overall, nearly half of the influenza-related deaths during the pandemic were in young and healthy adults ages 20 to 40 years old.

On a local level, 55 people died in Fremont County, 52 died in Jefferson County, and Madison County tallied 58 deaths, Lucier said. She added that the average age at death in the three counties was 26 and a half years old. Local historians are unsure how many deaths occurred in the other heavily populated counties, such as Bonneville or Bannock.

“The mortality rate of the flu was incredibly high, and if you walk through any cemetery and collect some data on death dates, you’ll see an uptick in mortality rate at the time of the Spanish flu,” Chloe Doucette, Senior Director of Programs and Engagement at the Museum of Idaho, told EastIdahoNews.com. “Rose Hill Cemetery in Idaho Falls is no exception.”

Lucier said at the time, the death rate from influenza made it “almost impossible to secure caskets.”

“We did very little embalming then. Most of the time the bodies were laid out on slabs of ice with cloths for the viewing and then buried in wooden boxes,” said Bill M. Hansen, who worked for undertaker William Yager in Fremont County during the pandemic, according to Lucier’s report. “I didn’t like the business much, and I dreaded to go to a home to pick up a body.”

The Spanish flu symptoms were similar to those of the typical flu, such as fever, aches and tiredness, but many people developed pneumonia as well. Dark spots would appear on victims’ cheeks before their faces would turn blue from lack of oxygen in their blood, and they’d suffocate as their lungs filled with fluid, according to the History Television Network.

Many Idahoans caught the Spanish flu, and although the total number of how many died is unclear, Doucette said because the flu was so deadly and cities in Idaho were still pretty small in 1918 to 1920, most people were personally affected by the death of someone due to the virus. Along with infections and deaths, the pandemic caused social and economic issues in communities.

Spanish flu hits Idaho

It was late September 1918 when the Spanish flu arrived in the Gem State, according to HannaLore Hein, the state historian with the Idaho State Historical Society. Hein said few records exist from that period that discuss what the state did and what the counties attempted to do. Based on the available records, she said that around the time the virus appeared in Idaho, the United States surgeon general issued a plea.

“The U.S. Surgeon General was starting to really ask states to pay attention to what was going on and to start collecting information about the case numbers, the transmission rates, where cases were originating and things like that,” she said.

Within the first couple of weeks, after Idaho reported its first influenza cases in Canyon County, Hein said the State Board of Health, which makes policy decisions for Idaho, met about the issue.

“By mid-October… they came down with some pretty clear mandates as to what needed to happen to try to curb the spread of this disease,” Hein said.

Because there was no vaccine to protect against influenza and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions, the CDC said.

Those interventions included isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants and limitations of public gatherings, which the CDC noted: “were applied unevenly,” across the country.

Mandates put in place to slow the spread

“It is foolish for any locality to dally along until the community is infested and several deaths occur.”

To slow the spread of the disease in Idaho, the State Board of Health put several mandates in place, according to Hein. She said the board asked people to avoid things like dry sweeping train cars, train stations and public buildings because health officials thought that would stir the dust and get people sick. They also banned the public from drinking out of the same cup, which was sometimes done at restaurants or train stations.

In early October 1918, Idaho’s State Board of Health issued a statewide order banning all public assemblies in the hope of containing the virus, Doucette said. She said there was a resurgence of the disease towards the end of 1918, which was due, largely in part, to public celebrations of the end of the war. She said celebrations like this took place in Idaho, as well as across the nation, and more people got sick because of them.

On Oct. 11, 1918, the Pocatello Tribune said, “Edict of the State Board of Health closing all places of public assemblage should not unduly alarm the people. It is a measure of precaution rather than one of necessity.”

The paper added that “while it will work a material hardship on many individuals and institutions, it perhaps is a wise plan to at least keep the situation well in hand, and determine the exact status of the so-called Spanish influenza in this community.”

A few days after that publication, the Idaho Statesman reported 90 cases of influenza on Oct. 13, 1918, in Idaho, and on Oct. 23, 1918, the number of statewide confirmed cases jumped to 1,711.

On Oct. 31, 1918, The Rexburg Standard printed a letter written by Dr. Joseph Walker — who the paper said was “well known in Rexburg” — where he explained the impact gatherings had on the virus spreading.

“As to its treatment: The best treatment is not to get it. To avoid it, one must avoid all chance of associating with people who might have it, as it is a crowd disease and is conveyed from one to the other by means of droplet transmission,” he wrote.

Not long after his piece ran in the paper, The Rexburg Standard said in a November 1918 issue that a state quarantine was going to be lifted Nov. 24, 1918. This would allow all churches and theaters to re-open that day, “unless county or city health officials forbid the reopening.”

As part of the state quarantine, The Rexburg Standard also noted that school would be back in session Nov. 25, 1918. It’s not clear how many times schools might have shut down and for how long because The Rigby Star and The Rexburg Standard said a month later that school would also resume Dec. 30.

“Every precaution possible in the school will be taken to prevent any exposure to the influenza,” The Rigby Star states. “Parents are asked to co-operate by not letting their children attend school on any day when they show symptoms of the ‘flu’ and teachers will promptly isolate from the school any suspected case.”

Along with those mandates already mentioned, Hein said the State Board of Health also put together a mask mandate, and stores began selling face coverings.

An article in The Rexburg Standard published Nov. 7, 1918, with the headline “Gas Masks Prevent Flu” explained that in Idaho Falls and St. Anthony, wearing a mask was “made compulsory by the city authorities.”

It’s documented that during an American Public Health Association meeting in Chicago, that they talked about how the value of a mask is a “mooted question” but the “weight of opinion seems to be in its favor.”

How did eastern Idahoans respond to the mandates?

How Idahoans responded to the mandates “varied across the state,” Hein said.

“In some locations, people were welcoming of these decisions,” she mentioned. “In fact, in some places, the idea to close schools, the counties made those decisions maybe even before the Board of Health required it.”

Lucier said The Teton Peak Chronicle in St. Anthony ran an article condemning Fremont County for not closing its schools as Rexburg leaders did.

“The Rexburg Council saw the wisdom of closing the schools,” the article states. “It is foolish for any locality to dally along until the community is infested and several deaths occur before any steps are taken to prevent the disease from spreading.”

Doucette has yet to find a first-person account addressing any sort of public outrage or demonstration concerning the restrictions, but she said it’s likely that there was some pushback.

“Early articles all say something to the effect of ‘don’t panic,’ and there is evidence that people were getting restless (and) having financial trouble because of business shutdowns,” she said.

During the fourth week of October, Lucier said Rexburg put up a 75-foot “Liberty Flag Pole.” Many people ignored the rule of public gatherings but wore their gauze face masks to watch the raising of the flag pole. Then on Nov. 11, Rexburg received word that the armistice had been signed. To celebrate, Lucier said, citizens built a large bonfire and danced around it while wearing their masks that night.

1919BYUProvoMasks-aBrigham Young University students wearing fask masks in Jan. 1919 after classes had been canceled from Oct. to Dec. 1918. | Courtesy L. Tom Perry Special Collections, UAP 2 F-092

But on the other hand, there were people like those in Challis who were so fearful of getting the flu that Doucette said locals tried to keep the flu out by positioning armed guards at the city’s entrance to keep strangers and travelers out. The story goes that the postman eventually brought the disease in.

In east Idaho, many communities did not allow passengers to disembark if they were non-residents or had traveled to hot spots, according to an Idaho State Journal article, which also mentioned stations from Driggs to Idaho Falls were closed.

“I think that there is good evidence to suggest that because people saw the impact of the flu firsthand, they took complying with safety measures seriously for the most part,” Doucette stated.

In Rexburg, the local newspaper wrote that the “flu situation is very serious,” and despite precautions, the virus had “broken out again” in the city more seriously than ever before.

The Idaho Republican, the Blackfoot newspaper, was also feeling the virus’s effects. The paper published an article Dec. 6, 1918, that informed the community that more influenza cases were reported within city limits during that past week than at any previous time.

However, the paper hints that the city was following directions by health officials because later on, the newspaper article reads, “Thanksgiving Day was quiet here as everybody stayed at home most of the day.”

Esther Thomas, a home economics student at the University of Idaho in 1918, painted a picture in her journal that indicated being in quarantine was a lonely time.

“Still nothing doing. I am almost desperate. Make some sheets,” she wrote. Followed by an entry the next day that said, “Make some more sheets. Desperation increases. What will become of me?”

The virus needed to finish running its course — and how long that would take was unknown — before life would return to “normal.”

Life after the pandemic

With phrases such as “laid to last rest,” “death found its way in” and “it is painful for us to record so many deaths” scattered across local newspapers, other words such as “recovering nicely” and “in good health again” are also mentioned.

Doucette said because the Spanish flu was so contagious that many people became infected with the disease and then either died or developed an immunity to that particular strain of flu by about 1920. When the pandemic came to an end after roughly two years, one-third of the world’s population had caught the virus.

“That caused much of society to go back to normal, but ‘descendants’ of the Spanish flu virus (mutated strains of it) have continued to exist and affect our society,” Doucette said. “The flu pandemics that occurred in the ’50s, ’60s and in 2009 were all descendants of the novel 1918 virus.”

Even though it was a “horrendous experience,” Hein’s agrees that life eventually went back to normal because the virus mutated.

“(What happened back then) is very similar to what we’re watching happen right now,” Hein said. “It’s been quite interesting to see so much of history cycling through again.”

source: © 2015 – 2021 EastIdahoNews.com, LLC. Used with permission (Nate Eaton)
Note: contains lists of influenza deaths in Jefferson County Idaho 1918-1919. Also several newspaper clippings.
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Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 1)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 2)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 3)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 4)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 5)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 6)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 7)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 8)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 9)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 10)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 11)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 12)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 13)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 14)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 15)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 16)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 17)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 18)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 19)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 20)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 21)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 22)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 23)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 24)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 25)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 26)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 27)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 28)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 29)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 30)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 31)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 32)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 33)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 34)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 35)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 36)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 37)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 38)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 39)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 40)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 41)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 42)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 43)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 44)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 45)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 46)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 47)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 48)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 49)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 50)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 51)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 52)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 53)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 54)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 55)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 56)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 57)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 58)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 59)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 60)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 61)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 62)
Link to Idaho 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic (Part 63)