Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mom's First-Hand Memories of the Flu Pandemic of 1918

Mom was nearly five years old when she and brother Thearl noticed a smoky haze that smelled like burnt leaves that came rolling through their area of Kentucky.

Soon, people were sick and dying. 

Her father, Corb Stevens, was busy making caskets for everyone that died.  He was soon overrun with requests.  Mom said that eventually she and her mother, Bertha Gearheart Stevens were taken sick.  She didn't know if she would live or not.  After several days in bed, she was able to lean up from her bed and look out the window.  In the valley below the house, the caskets were lined up in rows.  There was no one well enough to bury the dead.

There was hardly a family that was not affected by this terrible flu.  Mom was the oldest in her family, and she lost two little brothers.  Her mom's sister, Aunt Harriett, lost three children during 1918. 

It's getting more and more difficult to find those that lived through and survived this flu pandemic of 1918.  I'm fortunate that my mom lived, and so did her mother. 

But, I think of the mothers that buried children and the children that buried mothers.  I've seen the graveyards where the tombstones tell the stories of grief, of losing several family members within just a couple of months.

Their feelings would be no different than ours today...
Little Zearl Stevens, brother of my mom, Ida.  He would have been 3 years old during the pandemic.  He is buried in the Brown Cemetery, Lawton, Carter, Kentucky.

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