We are now in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and are bombarded on all sides on what measures should be used to contain it and eradicate it. My newspaper, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, states there are now over 173,000 deaths in the United States. Due to the political climate, the pandemic has been so politicized our nation has the most cases in the world and no real solution to the problem. There is not a united effort to contain it and prevent more deaths even though all lives are supposed to matter! I have read many articles comparing our treatment of Covid-19 to the pandemic in 1918 of the Spanish Flu and wonder if they handled it better than we do Covid-19.
I found one of my 2nd-great-grandfathers (on my Mom's side) died in 1918 and while he did not die of the Spanish Flu, I decided to research the area he lived in to see how the Spanish Flu affected the area. I was curious to see how different 1918 was from 2020 in their treatment and knowledge of pandemics.
My dad and mom's family are from Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma so that is the area I concentrated on researching. I live in Fort Worth so my research options are very limited since I can't travel to Duncan and the libraries here are closed. My only option for now is The Duncan Banner Newspaper. At that point in time, the Banner was a weekly publication published every Friday. The website Newspapers.com have past copies of The Banner from 1893 so I started my search for articles concerning the Spanish Flu in August, 1918.
An interesting note regarding The Duncan Banner. My grandfather, Curt Pollock, worked at the Banner in the 1960's+. He worked with my husband, Roy (he was in junior high), and most times they were the last two people left in the building working to get the paper out.I have heard many stories of the pranks my grandpa played on my husband and vice versa during that time. Grandpa loved his pranks! My first job after high school graduation was at the Banner as a typesetter. My great-aunt Thelma got me job, she delivered the paper. My cousin, Donna, started working at the paper not long after I did and I trained her. My brother, Steve's first job after college graduation was as a reporter at the Banner in the 1980's. There were other family members who worked there through the years as well. So the Banner was family affair.
Each publication of The Banner in 1918 contained stories mainly of World War I and the oil production in the county. The paper was still a small town newspaper and I was glad to read that it also printed letters from servicemen to their families that told the personal side to the war. The Spanish Flu was only mentioned in reports about soldiers at military bases around the country and the world becoming sick with the Flu and the death tolls at each. The first mention of the Flu being in Duncan or Stephens County was in the October 4, 1918 edition. This edition also contained several articles regarding soldiers "succumbing" to the flu at Camp Dix.
In the next edition, published on October 11, 1918, many more articles gave a more thorough picture of what was happening in Stephens County regarding the Flu. I am including all the articles in both the October 4th and 11th editions here.
I will continue researching the Flu and its progression in Stephens County and continue the story in later posts. I am interested to learn if people in 1918 adhered to safety precautions better than we do today.
My name is Vicky, and after researching my family history since 1999, I have found amazing stories that need to be told. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!