My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Frances and the Flu

The flu has hit the hardest in Massachusetts this past week, January 13, 2013. Other areas in the United States are being affected too. Because of this, I am reminded of my grandaunt, a nurse who attended those affected with the flu, died of it in 1918 at the age of 32. Yesterday, while working on a piece about her grandfather, I came across my post of several years ago and I'd like to share it with new updates from December, 2015.

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." 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.

Update: On December 22, 2015, I found the following information from

From: Daily Northwestern, Evanston, Illinois, Friday, April 5, 1918, Page 1. "Star Honors Heroes  --
At Chapel this morning President Holgate will present to the University a huge service flag in honor of the Northwestern men in National service. Mr. Marsh is in charge of the program, which besides special music will include a speech by Nancy Knight who will tell of Women's War work in Evanston.

The flag was purchased by Elizabeth Ambuhl. Lucy Harrison and Marian Goodsmith helped her sew on the figure 1120, their service taking them back to the good old days of Betsy Ross. 1119 Northwestern men have gone in the service, and Frances Poole is going with the Presbyterian Hospital Unite, makes up the number. The blue star stands for the living and the gold star for the dead.

Four of our soldiers have already given their lives for their country. They are: Captain Robert Tracy Gillmore, Med. '92. Died at Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga., Jan. 20, 1918. Frank L. Seery, Arts-Ex- '18. Killed in airplane collision, Keky Field, Texas, Jan. 21, 1918. Earl C. Adams, Arts, Ex-'19. Died at Ft. Sill, Okla., Feb. 3, 1918. G. W. Morton, Law. '16. Died at Camp Grand, Rockford, Ill. Feb. 2."

The above photo of Frances appears in an article written for the Bell Telephone News, (See actual article at the Bell Telephone link) and is shared below.

Volume 8: 22.

Of Interest To Our Girls, Conducted by Mrs. F. E. Dowhurst

Frances Poole
“One star has turned to gold on the service flag of the Chicago traffic department. It is the star of a girl who has given her life in the service of others.

Miss Frances Poole came to the telephone company on August 14, 1916, as a nurse in the welfare department. She made many friends among the girls in her visits to the sick and later, through her position as nurse at Margaret Mackin Hall where she lived for a year and a half, had an opportunity to become a close and intimate friend of hundreds of girls who were there at different times’ It was while she was at Margaret Mackin Hall that she decided to offer her services to the Red Cross. She was not able physically to stand the test for overseas service; but was placed on the list for work in this country. While awaiting her call she filled the place of Miss Julia Goodman, who left the Oakland district for overseas Red Cross service. She made many friends among the girls in the South Side offices, and it was with regret that her resignation was accepted when the call came for service at Camp Ontario, Oswego, N. Y.

During the terrible epidemic which was very severe in Camp Ontario, Miss Poole did not spare herself and, though she had a severe cold and was urged not to go on duty, she saw the extreme need of the boys, and, like a brave soldier, fought the fight until she fell—a victim of pneumonia. Her mother reached her two hours before her death, bringing by her presence the greatest joy to her daughter that she could have had at the last.

Mrs. Poole has the sympathy of hosts of friends. She has given much for her country; two sons are in the service—Lieut. Charles H. Poole with the coast artillery ‘Over There,’ and Lieut. Clarence T. [sic] F. Poole with the Quartermaster Corps in Washington.

Miss Poole had an unusually sunny disposition and a friendly spirit which made her dear even to those who knew her only for a short time. She was ‘one of the girls,’ a good comrade giving not only advice which she, through her nurse’s training could give so well, but giving herself. ‘Sunshiny Frances’ was her mother’s name for her and we can imagine that our golden star is more golden because it shines with glory of a lovely character. Such stars are not lost but shine on with a steady radiance inspiring us all to give our best.

Miss Poole was buried at Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D. C., where her father was buried some time ago.” 

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. Photo taken 2001 by me.