OVER 100 YEARS AGO: THE PANDEMIC FLU OF 1918-19 KILLED MILLIONS - Calhoun Cemeteries Have Hundreds Of Victims

By Bob Weaver

As residents are facing a world-wide pandemic in 2020 and how bad it will be, it has been over 100 years since the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War I, somewhere between 20 and 40 million people.

Calhoun cemeteries are full of victims, hundreds died, in some cases almost a member of every family.

Many family members can be found in single cemetery rows.

The late Leah Davis of Sand Ridge recalled, "The big Spanish flu epidemic after WWI hurt more than anything else. My dad and grandfather used to go into the houses, there'd be whole families had died, had to take the horses and sleds and haul them people out. They'd make pine boxes for 'em."

It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351.

Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.

In two years that "Spanish Flu" ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world's population was infected. The flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40.

This pattern of morbidity was unusual for influenza which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. It infected 28% of all Americans.

An estimated 43,000 U.S. soldiers died due to the virus, roughly half of those who were killed in action in Europe.

An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic. The USA is now seeking 500,000 deaths from COVID-19.

The influenza pandemic circled the globe.

"Spanish" flu is a misnomer, and the strain is theorized to have actually developed in Kansas.

Because newspapers on both sides of World War I censored most early news of the outbreak for the sake of public morale, Spain, which remained neutral, freely reported on influenza, giving the impression it had originated there.

America's troop mobilization in World War I spread the disease across the country and eventually into Europe once deployed. Stateside military encampments, with their crowded and often unsanitary quarters, became hotbeds of disease. An estimated 43,000 U.S. soldiers died due to the virus, roughly half of those who were killed in action in Europe.