Idaho History Oct 3, 2021

Idaho 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic

Part 74

Idaho Newspaper Clippings February 7-10, 1920

Idaho photos courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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February 7

The Daily Star-Mirror., February 07, 1920, Page 1


Two More Deaths But Fewer Cases
Influenza Claims Two More Victims In Last 24 Hours – Five New Cases

Despite the fact that two more deaths having occurred from influenza, one in town and the other in the country near town, the general situation continues to show marked improvement. There were only five new cases reported Friday, as compared with 48 a week ago Friday and an average of 48 for five days last week. Many quarantine flags were taken down and many families released. How many cannot be learned. Dr. Leitch, city health officer, ordered five releases and every physician is believed to have release a number from quarantine.

Mrs. A. E. Meinig is Dead

Mrs. Hester Meinig, wife of A. E. Meinig, died this morning. She was 28 years old and leaves a husband and two children, aged six years and 16 months, respectively. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Culton, live near Viola. The family moved here from Kennedy Ford, near Palouse, last September. The funeral will be held Monday, interment being at Palouse.

Husband and Father Taken

A peculiarly sad death is that of Jesse W. Whorley, aged 33, who passed away about noon today. He was working for John King on the milk farm near the university. He had been sick for some time and his condition has been regarded as well nigh hopeless for some time. He leaves a widow and five children, the oldest nine years old. The family came here from South Carolina. They have no relatives nearer than that state. They had been here since April. Mr. Whorley was a man of excellent character and a hard worker. His death leaves the family in bad circumstances.

There are a few other very serious cases in and near town. Dr. Adair has a patient who death was expected last night but he is much better today and there is strong hope of his recovery.

General conditions are much improved. Schools will be opened Monday and nurses will be provided to look after the health of the children. Every well child is urged to attend. The school board hopes there will be no serious interference with school work as was the case last year.
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19200207DSM3Public Meetings Banned In Palouse
Schools, Churches, Lodges And Other Gatherings Closed By Council
(Palouse Republic)

Monday afternoon, following a session of the city council, sitting as a board of health, announcement was made that the public schools were to be closed and the community forego all public gatherings until further notice, in order to better guard against the spread of the influenza, a few cases of which had developed in the community. Placards were at once put up in all business houses and public places, limiting the number of persons who may assemble in any place of business, or other place in the city, to six. The decision of the board of health, acting on the report of Dr. Walter Farnham, city health officers, met with the approval of citizens generally, all being eager to do everything possible to check a serious outbreak of the disease which took such a toll in human life last year.

As a result of the order of the health board, there will not be services in any of the local churches next Sunday. Neither will there be lodge meetings or other gatherings, either in public buildings or in private homes.

Conditions Not Serious Here

The influenza situation in Palouse is not at all serious. At the time of going to press, the health officer reported 20 cases in the city, six of which are in one family, that of L. S. Carroll. The cases are all mild. The opinion seems to be that if the epidemic does not gain headway during the next few days, the schools will be opened again Monday. This, however, cannot be determined yet.

In the country surrounding Palouse, the condition is worse than in town, there being dozens of cases in farm homes in the neighborhood. Some of these cases are quite severe, but none are reported serious. Three members of the John Kamm family, Mr. and Mrs. Kamm and Floyd, the oldest son, have the disease in a rather severe form.

Local doctors are on the job early and late and are giving all the patients the best care possible.
— —

Harry Whittier’s Sister Died Wednesday

Word has been received in Moscow that Mrs. J. H. Robinson, a sister of Harry Whittier and Mrs. C. N. Lussier died at Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday, February 4. Her death was due to influenza. Mrs. Robinson leaves her husband, two children and her parents, in addition to brothers and sisters. Mrs. and Mrs. Whittier were in New York on a pleasure trip when notified of the death of Mr. Whittier’s sister and they have gone to Sioux City. It is believed they will return to Moscow in a few days.

source: The Daily Star-Mirror. (Moscow, Idaho), 07 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Daily Star-Mirror., February 07, 1920, Page 2


While more deaths are occurring from influenza than at any time since the epidemic struck Moscow, there is no cause for alarm. The gratifying part of the reports is that there has been a steady decline in the number of new cases from 48 a week ago yesterday to five yesterday and the same number today. Those who have died are among the first victims of the wave which struck Moscow three weeks ago. Schools are to open Monday and the utmost care will be exercised in protecting the children from exposure to the disease. It is believed that the wave is almost spent and while there may be a few new cases occasionally, the general situation is such that people should not be alarmed if they learn of a death of a patient who has been ill for weeks.

(ibid, page 2)
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The Daily Star-Mirror., February 07, 1920, Page 3

City News

The art department of the Historical club will not meet until further notice.

Mrs. C. H. Phelps, north of Moscow, has been quite ill of influenza, but is now recovering and able to be up about the house.

Dr. J. J. Herrington returned today from Viola where he visited several influenza patients.

Mrs. Harry Young, who died of pneumonia following influenza, at Pullman, was brought to Moscow today for burial in the Moscow cemetery. She leaves a husband and two children.

Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Lewis, who were recently married at Weippe, and were on their way to Astoria to live, stopped off in Moscow for a day or two last week. They were both taken ill of influenza and have been very sick at the Hotel Moscow, but they are now reported better. Miss Winnifred Edmundson and Mrs. Mary Hawley have assisted in nursing them.

Mrs. Swecker, who has been several weeks at a local hospital, left today for her home at Troy.

Victor Howland, of the Roth Construction company, who was ill of influenza, is reported as improving.

H. E. Carpenter from north of Moscow was in Moscow today on business. He says the “flu” cases in that neighborhood are all recovering.

Word has been received that Mrs. Harry M. Driscoll is very ill of influenza in Spokane.
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19200207DSM4Influenza At Kendrick Is Reported Very Mild

There are quite a number of influenza cases in Kendrick at this time, a number of new ones having developed since last week. Fortunately, however, none appear to be serious at all. Among the business men Mr. Lutz and Mr. Jorday Long are the only ones to date who have had to desist from their labors until they had had their chills and remained in bed the required length of time.

It seems that most of those who have contracted the disease failed to have it last year. The writer is one of those who was passed up last year and it is needless to say that he is knocking wood at every opportunity, crossing his fingers every time he passes a white horse and making a detour of the block every time a rabbit starts across the road ahead of him, which causes considerable pedestrying in this bunny infested town.

Fortunately the people of the community are taking the situation calmly and are taking care of themselves as soon as they contract the disease. Both doctors are going day and night to handle their many patients in town and surrounding country. — Kendrick Gazette

(ibid, page 3)
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The Daily Star-Mirror., February 07, 1920, Page 4

Dr. J. A. McDaniel is recovering from an attack of influenza and will soon be out again.
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1920 Census

Valley County 951

(ibid, page 4)
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Mountain Home, Idaho


Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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February 9

The Daily Star-Mirror., February 09, 1920, Page 1


Schools Are Open Large Attendance
Influenza Conditions Show Marked Improvement – Believe End Is Near

Moscow schools opened Monday morning with a 95 per cent attendance in the high school building and a good attendance in the grades. All of the Teachers with the exception of Mrs. Rich, were in their places. Nurses are on hand to look after the children and see that only the well are admitted. Conditions in the schools are giving entire satisfaction, the attendance being better than was hoped for. It is believed that by the last of the week attendance will be normal.

Many applications for the position of superintendent of city schools, made vacant by the death of Professor Rich, are being received and some of them come from strong men, with splendid experience. The school board feels encouraged by the number of applications received and the generally high character of the applicants. No selection will be made until the qualifications of all applicants can be thoroughly investigated.

That the new cases of influenza now developing are more severe than formerly is the statement of Dr. J. N. Clarke, one of Moscow’s busiest physicians. Dr. Clarke said: “I do not know how it is with other physicians but in my practice I find that the new cases as a rule have the disease in a harder form than earlier in the siege. But conditions appear to be much better. There are fewer new cases and many of the old cases are being released as cured. There are a number of very severe cases in town yet and these cases are causing some uneasiness but I believe that within four or five days the worst will be over and normal conditions will soon return. The warm, bright sunshine is a help.”

Only six new cases were reported for Sunday as compared with five each for Friday and Saturday, six for Thursday, 15 for Wednesday and 19 for Tuesday.

Much Help Needed

The great need now is for help in the homes where the quarantine has been raised. Mrs. E. C. Boom of the Red Cross staff, has charge of this work. Mrs. Boom said: “We need a number of women to go into the homes and help clean up and do the house work. This is not charity work, but will be paid for. Women who have just got out of bed and are weak yet, cannot do this work. If any woman or number of women, are willing to go into homes and do this work for good pay I wish they would telephone me at 213, and I will assign them to the work. This is work that must be done and will be paid for. It is our greatest need at this time. There is believed to be no danger as these homes have been fumigated and the quarantine raised in all homes where this work needs to be done.”

source: The Daily Star-Mirror. (Moscow, Idaho), 09 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Daily Star-Mirror., February 09, 1920, Page 3

City News

Mrs. M. E. Lewis is recovering from an attack of influenza.

J. S. Heckathorn is able to return to his place as cashier at the First National Bank this morning after an attack of influenza. W. F. Morgareidge has recovered from the influenza and is able to be at his post in the postoffice today.

Mrs. W. S. Snoddy is acting as substitute teacher in Mrs. Rich’s room at the Whitworth school.

The family of C. W. Lenhard, northeast of Moscow, are released from quarantine for influenza.

Rev. H. O. Perry went to Palouse this morning to conduct the funeral services of Mrs. A. E. Meinig, who was taken to Palouse for burial. The funeral was largely attended by many of the friends of Mr. and Mrs. Meinig, who formerly lived near Palouse.

Gust Paulson is down town today for the first [time] after a two weeks’ siege of influenza.

(ibid, page 3)
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Hotel, Middleton, Idaho ca. 1908


Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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February 10

The Caldwell Tribune. February 10, 1920, Page 1


Dread Disease Now Departing
Influenza Believed To Have Past Crisis And Now Receding

Influenza is believed to be rapidly on the wane in Caldwell and the surrounding territory. New cases are becoming rarer most of those who had the disease are out again. In general the epidemic, while almost as prevalent as it was last year, took a considerably milder form and only about six deaths have been recorded for this section that can be attributed to influenza or pneumonia which followed it.

According to one local physician, while the epidemic was at its height, there was almost 1000 cases of varying degrees of severity in this city and throughout the tributary country. Many of these were never seen by physicians. Owing to the large number of calls and the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, doctors could not visit every case.

While the epidemic was severe enough to have caused no little worry it did not reach such proportions and seriousness that any action relative to closing schools and public places of meeting was deemed advisable. Many of the cases this year were unusually mild and where good home care prevailed, no difficulty was expected in hastening recovery.

While many of those who had the disease last winter again suffered from it, their immunity was quite marked according to local doctors. In proportion to the total number of cases, those who repeated were not many. It is believed that with another year the disease will have deteriorated in virility until it will not cause any great worry, even if it should appear again in the form of an epidemic. This year’s experience with the disease would seem to indicate that this is the logical thing to expect.

What effect the bad weather prevailing the past week until Saturday may have had on the prevalence of influenza is not known but it is generally credited with having proved a contributing factor in its spread.

source: The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho), 10 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Caldwell Tribune. February 10, 1920, Page 6

Items of Interest From Surrounding Territory


The schools in the district have been closed on account of the influenza. It was proved last year that it was a poor policy to close the schools. It was better to quarantine the home as soon as there was a sick person in it until all were well. Then the rest of the people would not suffer.

The Lindh family has now recovered nicely from the influenza. So has Mr. and Mrs. Tom Jackson and family. Mr. Hansbrough was supposed to have had it but not hard at all. Mr. and Mrs. Ike Lineberger with their little boy were quite serious but are recovering.

Miss Everetson a sister of Mrs. Morsing returned to Ogden, Utah, after spending her vacation here. While here she helped the Lindn family during the influenza crisis.

Mrs. Jamison and daughter, Margaret has [sic] returned from their visit to Iowa. They would have stayed longer but the influenza was so bad in the town where they stayed that there was a danger of a complete quarantine and they decided to return home at once.

We are glad to state that Mrs. Frank Norton is recovering nicely.

The revival meetings at the Nazerine church are getting along very nicely and will continue indefinitely unless closed by the health board.

In this part of the country, We hoped that the ground hog did not see its shadow last Monday and that the full moon on Wednesday would give a perfect change.


The ladies aid society meeting to be held last Thursday has been postponed indefinitely on account of the many cases of influenza.

The womans study club has postponed their regular meeting which was to have been held on Thursday, February 10th, to February 17 on account of sickness.

Ten Davis News

The farm bureau meeting which was to be held at the Grange hall this week was postponed on account of the illness of Mr. Bennett who was to speak.

Mrs. Carl Burau has been ill with the influenza the past week.

Margaret Conners was unable to be at school one day last week.

S. G. Tucker, Dudley, Grace and Anna, have been ill with the influenza for several days. The girls were absent from school all week.

A large number of the children have been absent from school this week. As the influenza cases are decreasing there probably will be more there this coming week.

Mrs. Robert Trummell, who is ill at the home of her son, Piercie Trummell is enjoying a visit from her sister Mrs. Mary Marquis of Cambridge, Idaho.


A good number of children have returned to school, though quite a number are still out.

One sad result of the influenza was the death of Mrs. Dyar, the mother of a large family of children. The family are living in the Thomas Hartily home, which they have recently purchased. The were all sick and without help till Mrs. Rena Kline had the courage to care for them.

Among those who have recently been attacked by the influenza are the families of Carl Hammar and E. C,. Guill.

G. H. Myers seems to be immune from the influenza. He has been helping care for a number of his neighbors and seem to have no fear of the disease.

Dr. Weymouth was called to treat Mrs. Emmett on Wednesday.

As already advertised, the meeting appointed at the school house for the 10th has been given up because of the poor health of the entertainer.

(ibid, page 6)
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The Caldwell Tribune. February 10, 1920, Page 8

Local And Personal

Judge E. L. Bryan of the district court is fully recovered from an attack of influenza which threatened pneumonia.

The district court calendar will be set Friday, having been postponed from the time of the initial call because of the illness of Judge Bryan. Jury cases will not be tried for some time because of the prevalence of the influenza epidemic, the court holding the belief that it will cause individuals no inconsiderable inconvenience to sit on jury cases. Because of the prevalence of the disease, it is believed that a considerable portion of the names drawn would be unavailable at this time.

Funeral services were held Sunday for Mrs. Martha Tolson at the Case undertaking parlors. The Rev. Martin Damer, pastor of the Episcopal church both here and at Nampa, conducted the services at 2:30 p.m. Mrs. Tolson died Friday at the age of 54 years, following an attack of pneumonia.

Funeral services were held Saturday afternoon for Reuben Eells who died last Friday of pneumonia. The child was eight [years] old and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Eells, who live near Snake river.

Mrs. John Boone, who has been quite ill with influenza, has entirely recovered.

Mrs. Stoddard Judd died Sunday morning of pneumonia following influenza. Funeral services have not been arranged for as yet.

Ralph Henshaw of Greenleaf died Sunday morning of pneumonia.
— —

College of Idaho Notes

Raymond Rice of Roswell and Sidney McLaughlin of Ten Davis, have returned to school after a touch of the influenza.

(ibid, page 8)
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The Idaho Republican. February 10, 1920, Page 1


Fumigate Rooms of School Houses

In order to ward off any possibility of influenza epidemic being furthered at the local schools every room has been thoroly [sic] aired and fumigated. All day Saturday the doors and windows were left open allowing a free circulation of air and Sunday every room was fumigated.

Absences among the pupils of the grade schools show an average of ten absent last week from each of the twenty-six rooms. The high school had only fifteen absent Friday out of a total enrollment of 350.
— —

Volunteer Nurses

In a number of influenza cases in Blackfoot and surrounding territory nursing service is needed, and available nurses are asked to list their names with Mrs. George Holbrook at the city hall or with W. B. Goodnough at the Goodnough Cleaning & Tailoring Co. if they desire to volunteer to take cases where help is required.
— —

Hold Funeral of Maurice B. Watson

Funeral services of Maurice B. Watson, who died Wednesday afternoon of the influenza, were held Saturday morning at the family home on North Main street. Rev. A. F. Colver of the Baptist church preached the funeral sermon. Interment was in Grove City cemetery.

source: The Idaho Republican. (Blackfoot, Idaho), 10 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Idaho Republican. February 10, 1920, Page 2


Prevent The Flu

The influenza is less dangerous this year than last because people are happier and better nourished. The best health insurance is health.

All disease becomes less dangerous and less frequent in its attacks as all people go more hand in hand with laws of nature. So long as some of the people contract disease just so long will they transmit it to others who are healthy and ought to escape it.

There are reasons for everything, including the flu. Every human body carries around a lot of germs capable of causing disease if their number becomes large enough, and every healthy human body carries also enough anti-disease elements to keep the germs down, unless they be augmented by an incoming horde from the outside.

The powers of darkness work in the dark, and germs live in dirt. The first thing to do to prevent disease then is to prevent accumulations of dirt and waste and let plenty of clean fresh air and sunshine in. Lack of these things breaks down resistance to any disease attack.

Disease and health are as opposite as crying and laughing, as sorrow and joy, as dark and light. Sunshine, joy and health are allies. Disease spreads under the favorable conditions of darkness, unhappiness and foul air by contact just as rot spreads in a barrel of apples. Sickness is the penalty of a disregard for nature’s self-evident rules. And they not only suffer who invite disease, but they also who are nearby.

Altho [sic] in treating all troubles of the lungs plenty of fresh air is always insisted on by the best physicians yet only a small part of the people believe that fresh, cold air is not harmful. There was great uproar in some of the army hospitals two years ago when owing to scarcity of housing space many men were put out-of-doors on verandas and in tents, and yet the death rate of out-door patients was not much more than half that of in-door patients. Even the nurses who caught the flu kicked at being put out of the house and having their lives saved thereby.

When the public is finally convinced of the healing power of fresh air and sunshine public epidemics will lose their kick.

The American public has almost, but not quite, been taught that filth produces typhoid fever, and that form of disease has been reduced to a minimum. At the same time lung diseases, and foremost among them, pneumonia, are in the increase because of filthy air. One of the greatest checks the army put upon epidemics two years back was a thinning out of the men so that only a half dozen should live in one tent instead of nine, ten and twelve. At the same time it was next to impossible for the authorities to make the men leave the cap off their tent peaks at night and their windows open if they lived in barracks. The love of close, stuffy air in inborn in Americans, and possibly in the whole human race, for the French are yet worse. The French death rate is very high too.

The best flu preventions are: Fresh air, sunshine, clean houses, clean clothes, clean bodies and cheerful minds. This will be confirmed by any first rate medical authority.

– F. C. K.
— —


Miss Emma Brewington is absent from her duties as clerk in the Ramsey Cash store, on account of illness, Miss Laura Wernette assuming her place.

The family of C. L. Collins is reported on the sick list this week.

The family of R. F. Wilkie are reported on the sick list.

Dr. Roberts of Shelley was a professional caller in town Tuesday.


The I. J. Larson family is on the sick list this week.

(ibid, page 2)
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The Idaho Republican. February 10, 1920, Page 4

Many Activities At High School

Margaret Williams, a member of the sophomore class returned to her home at Thomas Wednesday on account of illness.

Erma Taylor and Elsie Neff are substituting at the Central and Irving schools because of the illness of Miss Schroeder and Miss Logan.

Thelma Larson is taking the place of Miss Smoot, who is ill.
— —


The C. L. Collins family, who have been very ill with influenza, are all reported greatly improved.

The William Murphy family are ill with the influenza at this time.

(ibid, page 4)
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The Idaho Republican. February 10, 1920, Page 5

Local News

Mrs. C. B. Lint, principal of the Kimball schools was taken to the hospital Saturday suffering with influenza. She is reported to be doing very nicely.

Grace Babbitt was ill the latter part of the week and unable to attend to her duties at the Golden Rule store.

Miss Fannie Thim, who was called to Salt Lake City last week on account of the illness of her sister, returned the last of the week to her duties at the Golden Rule store.

Word has been received from the Misses Winifred and Mary O’Rourke who are in Maple Lake, Minn. at the bedside of the ill father. They report his condition improving and expect to be able to return to their school here before long.

(ibid, page 5)
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Bonners Ferry Herald. February 10, 1920, Page 1


19200210BFH2Porter Victim Of Influenza
Buried Saturday Afternoon In Spokane – Wellknown In This City

William Porter, the popular representative of the Western Casualty Co. in this district, died at his home in Spokane Thursday of influenza. The funeral was held in Spokane Saturday afternoon and several of the friends of the deceased from this district, attended the services.

The deceased was 32 years old and is survived by his wife, a three year old daughter, a mother residing at Oregon City, Oreg., and a brother residing in Seattle.

News of the death of Mr. Porter came as a great shock to his many friends here, none having known of his illness. On his last trip to this city he had complained of a severe cold and a few weeks ago he had suffered from an attack of the la grippe. …

source: Bonners Ferry Herald. (Bonners Ferry, Idaho), 10 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Bonners Ferry Herald. February 10, 1920, Page 4

Local Pick-ups

Mrs. Joe Neumayer has been seriously ill this week with influenza and was taken to the Bonners Ferry hospital to receive treatment.

County Commissioner Fed G. Chambers, who has been seriously ill with pneumonia, is improving in health and will be able to be up and around in a week or ten days.

Mrs. L. N. Brown left for Spokane Sunday in response to word advising her of the illness of her nephew, William Fewkes, with influenza.

Mrs. Thomas Williams returned last week from Spokane where she had been called by the serious illness of her sister, Mrs. C. D. Rowell. At last reports Mrs. Rowell was considerably improved in health.

Senator W. S. Walker and Representative A. J. Kent left yesterday for Boise to attend the special session of the legislature called to convene tomorrow for the purpose of ratifying the constitutional amendment for women suffrage.

(ibid, page 4)
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Bonners Ferry Herald. February 10, 1920, Page 5

Mrs. E. H. Brock Dead

Word was received here yesterday morning of the death of Mrs. E. H. Brock, at her home at Golden, Mont.

It is understood that Mrs. Brock died from an attack of influenza.

Mrs. Brock was the step-mother of Mrs. George McGlocklin and Mr. and Mrs. McGlocklin left this morning for Golden to attend the funeral.

The deceased formerly lived here and was admired and respected by all who knew her. These friends all extend deepest sympathy to the mourning relatives.
— —


Kantleek Hot Water Bottles and Syringes
The finest hot water bottle made. We guarantee them for three years.

Fever Thermometers
Absolutely necessary in all sickrooms. standard makes at from $1.25 to $2.00 each.

For use with both oil and water; for spraying the nose or throat we feature the Derilbliss line.

Bed and Douche Pans, Porcelain and Enamel Ware.

Fumigation – Sulfur and Formaldehyde. Do not give the germs a single chance.

(ibid, page 5)
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The Daily Star-Mirror., February 10, 1920, Page 1


Only Three Influenza Cases Reported Monday

A new low record for influenza cases was set Monday when but three new cases were reported and a score or more were released. This is the lowest number since the “flu” struck Moscow and is regarded as very encouraging. Conditions are considered by physicians and all who are conversant with the disease, as being better than any time since the epidemic appeared here.

source: The Daily Star-Mirror. (Moscow, Idaho), 10 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Daily Star-Mirror., February 10, 1920, Page 3

City News

The play which was to have been given by the Drama Club this evening at Gild Hall has been postponed until Tuesday, February 17. The “The Truth,” by Clyde Fitch will be given.

Mrs. Victor Peterson left for Spokane today to assist in taking care of the family of W. C. Renfrew, several members of whom are ill of influenza. Mrs. Peterson has been nursing Mr. Renfrew here at Moscow and he is very much improved and will soon be out again after an attack of influenza.

Mrs. Cyrus Roberts left today for American Ridge, called by the illness of her daughter, who is a victim of mumps.

The Viola schools were opened Monday but with a very small attendance. The cases of influenza in the district have practically all recovered.

Mrs. Geo. Stone arrived today from Colton to assist in nursing some “flu” cases in Moscow.

(ibid, page 3)

Further Reading

Mandatory masks, shuttered theatres and confusing rules: The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and its similarities with today

Tu Thanh Ha And James Keller December 28, 2020 Updated February 3, 2021

Alberta children wear masks to guard against Spanish influenza in 1918. The global pandemic killed some 50 million people, including about 50,000 Canadians.
Canmore Museum

In the fall of 1918, many small towns in Canada felt eerily desolate.

In Erickson, Man., the railway station master was nowhere to be seen. The hotel and stores were closed. Bags of unsorted mail piled up in the shuttered post office.

In larger cities, people were dying in such large numbers that they couldn’t be interred as usual. Montreal ran out of coffins and used delivery wagons as makeshift hearses. In Toronto, bodies piled up in cemetery vaults, awaiting burial.

On the East Coast, the Cape Breton village of Marble Mountain also looked deserted. “The village store is left wide open, and those who are physically able serve themselves as no clerks are now available.”

Those details appeared a century ago in The Globe, the newspaper that would become The Globe and Mail. The full force of the Spanish influenza had reached North America just in the last months of the First World War, in a pandemic that eventually killed 50,000 Canadians and 50 million people around the world.

The reports in The Globe from 1918 contain eerie similarities with today’s pandemic.

Authorities banned public gatherings and shut down businesses. Some people complained about having to wear masks. The Stanley Cup finals were disrupted. The U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson, and Canadian prime minister Robert Borden both caught the flu.

There were differences, too. There was little co-ordination from Ottawa or provincial governments, leaving local officials to fend for themselves. Little attention was paid to the economic toll or how governments could help. Unlike COVID-19, the Spanish flu hit children and young adults the hardest.

We read more than two years of coverage in The Globe to see how it covered that crisis. …

How It Arrived

Researchers now believe that the pandemic started in the spring of 1918, in a “herald wave” that wasn’t very lethal. In Canada, it went largely unnoticed.

In April, Dr. Charles Hastings, then Toronto’s medical officer of health, was asked about the city’s numerous cases of pneumonia and influenza. “Dr. Hastings laid the blame partly on the season and partly on the prevalence of dust,” The Globe reported. “The mucous membranes are sensitive this time of the year.”

The first public notice of a large-scale problem emerged from Spain, giving the illness its name, though it didn’t originate there. “A strange illness that resembles the flu” emptied Madrid’s theatres and sickened many Spaniards, The Globe published in May. By the summer, military camps in the United States suffered outbreaks affecting thousands.

Then the second wave struck, arriving in Canada in mid-September, when 150 became sick and three died at an army camp for Polish American volunteers near Niagara-on-the-Lake. Major Thomas Morrison, a camp official, predicted the outbreak would end soon “with the advent of a few fine days.”

Unreported in The Globe was the flu’s first outbreak among civilians, in the Quebec town of Victoriaville, after the Sept. 15 end of a Roman Catholic eucharistic congress that drew 40,000 faithful. The final day of the event included a mass at a local boarding school, the Sacré-Coeur college. Right afterward, teaching brothers and students at the college started to get sick and die.

Shutdowns And Lockdowns

Troubling news came from Sydney, N.S., where a ship landed on Sept. 21 with 500 ailing American soldiers. Within days, eight died. A curling rink and church halls became hospitals. Theatres, dance halls and schools closed.

Near Montreal, soldiers became sick at a depot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The conscription crisis might have contributed to the contagion when military police detained suspected draft dodgers who later fell ill. On Oct. 7, Montreal ordered schools, theatres and dance halls to close.

Ontario still hadn’t fully grasped the threat. On Page 8, The Globe buried a story with the headline “Spanish Flu Invades City,” where Dr. Hastings assured that the “outbreak is little different to that of other fall seasons, except, if anything, it is a little milder.” The Globe reported that authorities felt “no alarm.”

Then infections skyrocketed. The death toll, reported in daily summaries, climbed steadily. Factories reported severe shortages of workers. Funeral directors could not keep up with the dead. Hospitals overflowed as doctors and nurses fell ill.

Toronto eventually followed other cities in shutting down public activities. Dr. Hastings advised people to shop by telephone and walk to work. Hotels were turned into makeshift hospitals. Court witnesses no longer had to kiss the Bible when taking an oath.

Conventions and other gatherings were banned, followed by the closure of theatres, libraries and pool halls. Churches cancelled Sunday services or held shorter ones. “Toronto woke yesterday morning to a silent Sabbath, very few church bells called people to worship and a hush seemed to fall upon the whole city,” The Globe reported.

The flu then reached the western provinces. Alberta made face coverings compulsory while outdoors. “Everyone in Edmonton had to wear a mask; you could not ride on a streetcar without it,” one resident told The Globe.

Lethbridge was quarantined. Trains were locked down when they neared the city. In other Prairie towns along the rail lines, “guards are placed at the depots, and intending visitors are informed that they can enter the town only if prepared to remain until the epidemic has abated.”

Almost as soon as officials ordered widespread closings, their thoughts turned to when they could lift those restrictions, expecting the outbreaks would be over in just days or weeks.

By early November, cities across Ontario and Quebec lifted their orders. Dr. Hastings announced that “the bottom has dropped out of the influenza epidemic.”

This created a pattern, alternating between outbreaks and periods of calm, shutdowns and reopenings, as cases repeatedly flared again into 1920.

Some members of the public pushed back against the medical restrictions.

The priest at a church in Quebec defied orders to close and officials promised legal consequence. In Alberta, there were grumbles in local newspapers about the provincial order to cover faces when outdoors.

Globe readers found the restrictions confusing and contradictory. One letter to the editor asked why theatres and churches had to close, while streetcars remained crowded. “Did the Medical Health Officer ever ride downtown at 8 o’clock in the morning on a Dundas car? If not, he better put on a ‘flu’ mask and take the trip for once. … The danger to health from riding to and from work under such conditions is infinitely greater than sitting quietly in a well-ventilated church.”

Part 1 from: The Globe and Mail

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