This evening I was looking through some old family letters and ran across a first hand account of the 1918 Flu Epidemic. I will share the account later in the post.
I do not have the envelope that the letter came in, but I do have one from two years later. You can see that the stamp is missing since we have had several Stamp Collectors in the family over the years.
Here is a portion of the letter. I retained the spelling and punctuation from the letter.
Nov – 23 – 1918
I will now try and answer your most welcome letter I received 1st of the week well this leaves us all well & hope this will find all the same out there we haven’t had the flue yet but can’t tell we might have before this reaches you it is awful bad in this part of town worse around hear than any place in town everything is closed excepts stores and they are talking of closing them for it is on the increase they all have to wear gauze masks now in the stores lots are dying there was 3 died in one family in < 14 hrs & another girl had died a few days before & a boy not expected to live some don’t live 24 hrs it is something awful they have opened two emergency hospitals & they are full they are for people that can’t get any one to take care of them for some familys all get down at once & no one to even give them a drink, I desinfect the house every day they are quarenting the homes that have it but didn’t until this week I think if they had done that at first it wouldn’t of been so thick.
I can just imagine the stress in families at this time as they thought of loved ones who lived far away from them. There were two waves of flu in 1918. The first one was early in the year, and there was a second one in the latter part of the year. The 1918 Flu was known as the Spanish Flu and killed up to 5% of the World population. In the US alone more that 500 thousand people died from the flu.
As the crow flies the distance from Vincennes to Blanchard was about 430 miles, but it would have been a much longer journey by train or wagon. At this time telephone calls were very expensive and in a small rural community like Blanchard there may not have even been any service. Mail was the best option to keep in touch and I am sure that this letter was received with great relief.
I have a few family members that died in 1918, but I am not sure if it was because of the flu. More research is needed.