The 1918 Flu Epidemic

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.

1918 Flu Epidemic, Spanish Flu, Vincennes, Indiana, First Hand AccountThe letter was written to my 2nd great-grandmother, Della Braman by her daughter Nellie Graves.

Old envelope, Vincennes, Indiana, 1921I 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.

Blanchard, Iowa, Iowa Missouri BorderDella lived in Blanchard, Iowa which is just north of the the border with Missouri.

Vincennes Indiana, Google MapsNellie lived in Vincennes, Indiana which is right on the border with Illinois.

Here is a portion of the letter. I retained the spelling and punctuation from the letter.

Vincennes Ind,

Nov – 23 – 1918

Dear Mamma,

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.

Google Maps, Vincennes to Blanchard, Distance Measurement

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.


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6 Responses to The 1918 Flu Epidemic

  1. chmjr2 says:

    The letter was a good insight on the Flu epidemic and the terrible effect it had on families. In my family I lost a grandmother, a great grandmother, great aunt and a aunt.

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