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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Frances and the Flu

Cynthia Shenette of Heritage Zen wrote a 3-part post about the 1918 flu and at the end of the last part, I commented, "and just today I discovered a family member died of the flu." It is this person I decided to do a Sentimental Sunday post about. For many years, I always knew the year my grandaunt died, but I didn't have the date, location or cause of death. Cynthia has incorporated a lot of the flu history into her multi-post, so I won't repeat it here.


Imagine my surprise when at long last, I located death information for Frances, just a week ago.


From the Chicago Daily Tribune. Oct 11, 1918 - Miss Frances Poole, Red Cross, from Evanston was buried yesterday in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington D.C. Miss Poole daughter of Mrs Charles Clarence Poole, 1123 Maple Avenue, Evanston died Tuesday at Camp Ontario, Oswego, NY of pneumonia following Influenza.


From the Chicago Daily Tribune. Oct. 27, 1918, Pg. 15 was the following Death Notice:
"Poole - Memorial services will be held for Frances Poole, army nurse, daughter of Mrs. C. Clarence Poole, sister of Lieut. Charles H. Poole, A. E. F.; and Dorothy Poole, at St. Luke's Episcopal church, Hinman and Lee Sts., Evanston, Ill., at 4:30 o'clock Sunday afternoon, Oct. 27th."


Suddenly, this 32 year old became alive, instead of just a name with death date of 1918. I found out she was a nurse. What a brave young woman to travel from the Chicago area to New York state to help the sick. She came from a rather wealthy family, was single and probably had all the wants and needs of her day. Her father, a patent attorney had died four years earlier. She still had 3 siblings, although the paper only named two. She was among the first to die in New York of the influenza.  Frances Poole died October 8, 1918. All those deaths, and my Frances was the one most important to me. I am saddened by how it happened, but I am so proud of her, a young angel trying to help the sick, trying to make a difference. I wish I knew more about her, but what I know, I won't ever forget.


From two official records  records about the The Great Pandemic of 1918-1919 in the United States:
"First Official Report of Influenza: The Public Health Service did not require states to report influenza before September 27th. New York first reported the presence of influenza on September 27th, but the disease was undoubtedly present in the state before that date.
On October 11th, the PHS said that 'Epidemics have been reported from Maybrook town (Orange County), Montgomery (Orange County), North Tonawanda, and Oswego. School and theaters had not been closed.' By October 18th, state officials admitted that influenza was prevalent throughout the state.
Although state authorities were too overwhelmed by the pandemic to keep accurate records, they did attempt to record deaths. By late October, New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Schenectady and Syracuse reported elevated death rates. During the week of November 1st, the PHS reported a total of 12,357 deaths in New York City. For the previous six weeks a total of 30,736 deaths were reported. The actual number of influenza-related deaths during this period was probably much higher."
"In October of 1918, Congress approved a $1 million budget for the U. S. Public Health Service to recruit 1000 medical doctors and over 700 registered nurses. Nurses were scarce, as their proximity to and interaction with the disease increased the risk of death." Frances may have been one of the nurses who answered this call."
"The flu afflicted over 25 percent of the U.S. population. In one year, the average life expectancy in the United States dropped by 12 years."
Frances and her parents buried at
Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

8 comments:

Cynthia Shenette said...

Barbara - I'm so glad you wrote about Frances. She sounds like such an interesting person, and it's nice that she is remembered.

Thank you for mentioning my series on the flu. It's a fascinating topic and one that touched so many of our ancestors' lives.

Greta Koehl said...

This is a beautiful tribute to a brave young woman. I remember going through Texas death certificates on the Family Search website, and it was evident that some of the early deaths in the pandemic were not attributed to influenza. As time passed, however, more and more started listing it, and the number of deaths in an area climbed, often with several family members dying around the same time. Very chilling.

Susan Petersen said...

Wonderful tribute, Barbara. And a good reminder of the importance of knowing the historical timeline of events that might intersect with our ancestors' lives.

Carol said...

Ditto all comments, especially Susan's!

MarDi said...

Hi Barbara,

A touching story and a beautiful remembrance of such an inspiring young woman.

Her family must have been so heartbroken but also so proud of her.

Anonymous said...

In the early part of the 20th century a woman who became a nurse could not marry if she wanted to remain a nurse. As soon as she did marry she would be fired and no hospital would hire her. My mother graduated from nursing school in the 30's and when she and my father were married they went to a different county-and kept their marriage secret so she could keep working. This explains your aunt being single.

Nolichucky Roots said...

So lovely, Barbara. If she was an Army nurse in 1918 she most likely served during WWI as well. Quite an heroic young woman.

Barbara Poole said...

Thank you all for such interesting comments. I hadn't thought about WW1 service and didn't know about the not being allowed to marry. Again, thank you.