Germ warfare in 1918?

by — Feb. 17, 2001 (Comments)

My grandmother Jennie Bell Maple was born April 23, 1893 and married Fred Warrick on January 31, 1914. He had his own grocery store in their small town, Clinton, in Central Illinois. The weather is not kind in summer or winter. Their first son died at 18 months in 1916. They had 2 more sons (Richard and Lovell) by mid-1918. Lottie and Grace are her sisters, Ted is her brother, Tom is her brother-in-law and the rest of the people mentioned are her friends or cousins.

The world in Illinois revolves around the weather and what it does to you. Yes, people were aware of happenings on a bigger scale such as World War I. However, they were most concerned with their own little world. Since my grandmother was a young mother of two at the time, she was very involved in her own world. However, her comments sounded a warning to me and I was curious about what was really happening at that period in time.

I have begun the entries of her diary at the end of 1918. This is what intrigued me to research the Influenza of 1918:

Thurs. Oct. 9, Enfluenzy epidemic is under quaranteen, but we haven’t it here. There are about 500 cases in town, several are bad sick with it and several deaths.

Fri.Oct.10, Grandpa here and mamma stayed till noon and grandpa stayed till after dinner, rain. Had a good time.

Sat. Oct. 11, Several more victims of enfluenzy. Harry Bowman, Clell West cleared off near noon.

Sun. Oct. 12, Went to mammas in afternoon, grandpa went home.

Mon Oct. 13, washed diapers

Wed. Oct. 15, Beautiful day, ironed.

Sat. Oct. 19, babe 2 months old.

Sun. Oct. 20, Home all day, had a lovely dinner.

Mon. Oct. 21, Went up town with Lottie shopping.

Wed. Oct. 23, rainy. Lots of deaths of Enfluenzy, people have it all around.

Thurs. Oct. 24, rained all day, ironed some. Lottie, Mrs. Crawford and Grandma Warrick here.

Fri. Oct. 25, ironed and went to Rays. Cleaned up the house, heard that Charley Hitt had fluensy.

Sat. Fred’s birthday, Oct. 26,

Sun. Oct. 27, Went up town in afternoon. It rained all day. Bird & Howard came, Tom, Grover, Grandma and Grandpa for dinner in afternoon. Lottie came after all had gone in evening. Lottie and Flood kids came over, played Flinch. Turned clock back.

Mon. Oct. 28, cleaned up the house in for noon and went to town. Sun shone bright all day.

Wed. Oct. 30, home all day. Sewed a little.

Thurs. Oct. 31, Ironing, cool, rainy looks like snow. Ted went to Litchfield Tuesday, 29.

Sat. Nov. 2, Grace in town, I went up town and met her and did some shopping. Bought Richard new shoes & a new stove.

Sun. Nov. 3, Got dinner and went to mammas, Grace & Lottie there. Left Richard with his papa and grandma.

Thurs. Nov. 7, rainy day. I ironed and the ___ looked for Peace was declared, the Worlds War is over. Whistles blew all over town 12:15 O’clock.

Fri. Nov. 8, proved that the above statement was false. Rainy.

Sat. Nov. 9, Went to Lotties a little while in afternoon.

Mon. Nov. 11, at 2 O’clock in morning, whistles blew and the Worlds Peace has come. I had been up all night with Fred and was lying down when the town seemed to have gone wild with excitement.

Fri. Dec. 13, rain and nasty. Martha here after she went to the Dafinburgh baby’s funeral Rufus Tuggle died, the flue is getting awful again. Milton Ray sick Richard not very well.

Sat. Dec. 14, My Christmas cactus is almost in bloom. Mamma over

Sun. Dec. 15, a beautiful day. Lots of sickness. Paid for the milk tickets, talked to Mrs. Ray.

Mon. Dec. 16, more sickness. Sun shone, warm enough to have door open, trees, birds have problem. I was just all tore up over so many flu victims.

Tues. Dec. 17, Washed some babys clothes.

Wed. Dec. 18, Ironed, beautiful day. Milk tickets. Went over to see how mamma was. She was better. Lottie & baby have flu.

She repeated it over and over. I had not heard of this particular issue in 1918 and was curious about it. When I researched the issue, I found there were only 3 major books and few writings on the subject, the latest, The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It by Gina Kolata (1999). Ms. Kolata refers to some of the other books and writings, however, not much was written or discussed about this particular plague. Yes, plague.

I was amazed at the scope and magnitude of this worldwide illness and the extent of the deaths. It is attributed to a death count larger than the deaths of WWI. The description of the illness does not fit the description of any illness I knew about. However, the description does fit Anthrax poisoning! It boggles my mind to think that someone was practicing germ warfare in 1918 that was worldwide. After reading and researching about this particular pandemic, what other explanation is there? And why was it not written about or discussed as one of the great crisis of 1918? Was there a cover up? Considering people believed this was a flu, the deaths from this particular disease was actually unaccountable and, therefore, could total many more than 20-40 million people.

Definitely gives pause for thought.