100 years ago it started at Fort Riley - The Flu


10-Year Member
Apr 6, 2010
I watched the news tonight and they discussed the recent deaths of the Flu this year. Made me think of one conversation I had with my grandmother about 25 years ago. She was 9 when it hit Western PA where she lived. She was the only one in her family of eight that did not get the flu. She was not allowed in the house for a month and had to sleep in the barn in winter. She never got it but she remembered being cold for so long. It approached along the train stops and people would know when it would get to their town. A few stops away one day ,two the next and then it was here. She said it was so frightening that even years later if it was brought up at a party or conversation people would shun any talk about it. She said it was almost like you felt it would return if you mentioned it.

The 1918 flu pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus.[1] It infected 500 million people around the world,[2] including people on remote Pacific islands and in the Arctic, and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million (three to five percent of the world's population),[3] making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.[4][5][6] Disease had already greatly limited life expectancy in the early 20th century. A considerable spike occurred in the first year of the pandemic. Life expectancy in the United States dropped by about 12 years. Influenza killed 25 million in the first 25 weeks which was more than the Great Plague killed in 25 years. Philadelphia had 30,000 dead in one month. Instead of the old and young it attacked the most healthy. A ship full of soldiers with a few sick would leave New York for France and the war. They were all sick a week later when they arrived in France. Arriving in France it spread to the armies fighting on both sides. It may have helped end the war. Schools, factories and businesses shut. It was like the world ended my grandmother said. Then it just went away.

PBS American Experience created an excellent episode about it

Here is the intro