August 15, 2008
The Flu, 1918
Hopedale in August
Sunday in the Parklands
The Flu, 1918
As World War I was drawing to a close, the flu epidemic, a disaster that would kill more people than the war
did, and in a much shorter time, was starting to spread. The Stanford University web page on the flu begins
with the following.
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World WarI,
at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. 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.
The flu in Hopedale, as shown below from the Hopedale news section of the Milford Gazette, ran a course
much like it did in the rest of the world. The victims, mainly in their 20s and 30s, died within a few days of
becoming sick. Pneumonia, resulting from the flu, was often listed as the cause of death. The epidemic
came and went in about a month.
September 27, 1918
Thomas MacNevin is ill at Camp Devins.
A number of the workmen at the Draper plant are ill with the Spanish influenza.
The Red Cross headquarters have closed until next Thursday on account of the epidemic of grip.
The Bancroft Library is closed this week on account of the grip epidemic. Fully 400 of the Draper plant
employees are out on account of illness.
The no school signal was sounded Tuesday and on the advice of School Physician Dr. M.K. Knight, the
schools have since remained closed on account of the prevailing grip epidemic.
October 4, 1918
Services at the Union Church were omitted Sunday.
Dr. K. A. Campbell is ill and Dr. Sally Harding Saunders, formerly of this town, is taking care of his practice.
Abner A. MacNeil, 37 years old, died of pneumonia Monday morning. He leaves a family.
Walter J. Morton, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska, 27 years ago, died Friday afternoon of double
pneumonia. He was a fireman and leaves a wife and two sons, a daughter, a father and two sisters.
Charles St. Clair, employed in the shuttle department of the Draper plant, and a resident of the Brae-Burn
Inn for the past few months, died of pneumonia Tuesday night. He was born in Lewiston, Maine, January 1,
John J. Grady, 30 years old, and a plumber for the Draper Corporation, died of the grip Sunday morning at
his home on Union Street. He leaves a wife and two children, his parents, two brothers and three sisters.
George W. Kneeland, a former resident of this town up to three years ago when he removed to Taunton,
died of pneumonia, following the grip, Sunday. He leaves a wife and three small children, a brother and a
October 11, 1918
Local relatives were notified by the war department Saturday of the death in France Sept. 19 of pneumonia of
Davis E. Gabry. He entered the service May 27 and was sent to France late in June. He was born in
Blackstone but had resided at Spindleville for many years. He is survived by his parents, a son and a
Mrs. May Stevens, wife of Harold Cook, died early Sunday morning. She was born in Southbridge 22 years
ago. She is survived by a husband and one son.
Roy F. Gaskill, a native and well known resident of this town, died Sunday of pneumonia, following an attack
of influenza. He was 34 years old. He was educated in the local schools and the Amherst Agricultural
College. For many years he was employed by Henry L. Patrick, but latterly was engaged by the highway
department. Besides his wife, he is survived by his father, a sister and a brother.
October 18, 1918
Cesare Franzoni, formerly employed at the Draper plant, died of influenza and pneumonia October 4, at a
New York hospital. He was a navy cook at Ellis Island and leaves a mother and one sister.
Earl Dewing, 30 years old, died Saturday of influenza at the home of Asa A. Westcott in Spindleville. He was
born in Milford but spent practically all of his life here. He leaves a mother, a brother and four sisters.
Hazel (Barbour), wife of George A. Davenport, died of pneumonia Sunday at their home on Inman Street.
She was a native of Westboro and was in her 27th year. She had been married about three years and
leaves besides her husband and mother, two small daughters, one only a few days old.
Harold Brown, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Brown of this town, died Tuesday of grip at New Brunswick, N.J.,
where he had been employed of late. He was about 29 years old and besides his wife, who was Mill Ellen
Bassett of this town, he is survived by his parents and one sister. The body was brought here Wednesday
night. Interment will be in the Village cemetery.
October 25, 1918
Fourteen clerks employed by H.L. Patrick have been out this week on account of illness.
Mrs. George P. Sheldon was called to Waterbury, Conn., this week by the illness of her daughter.
The ban laid down here on account of the epidemic was not lifted this week as was done in many of the
surrounding towns, and all public gatherings have been omitted.
November 1, 1918
Frederick, the five months old son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kempton, died of pneumonia last Thursday.
November 8, 1918
Church services were resumed here Sunday and Monday the board of health lifted the ban on public
meetings. The town library was also reopened this week.
The news excerpts above were all printed in the Milford Gazette.The Gazette was a weekly, which is the
reason that the dates are seven days apart.
According to the Town Report for 1918, between the beginning of September and the end of the year, sixteen
people in Hopedale died from flu/pneumonia. One was an infant and another was a teenager. The rest were
in their twenties and thirties.
The war ended on November 11. The traumatic season of the flu, pretty much over by then, was followed by
parades celebrating victory in Europe. Festivities also included the hanging, in effigy, of the Kaiser near the
Draper main office. “Funeral services were then held, the band playing a dirge.”
PBS – American Experience flu timeline
Wikipedia article on the flu
Stanford University flu article
William W. Butler, 78, Mendon, July 31, 2008
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