Glens Falls in 1918 — Flu ‘situation much better’

The Spanish influenza epidemic had spread throughout the nation, but in Glens Falls, N.Y., the “situation here is much better,” The Post-Star reported on Oct. 16, 1918.

“All city physicians including Health Officer Selleck were last night of the opinion that the grip epidemic is now rapidly on the wane and that a practical conclusion of it will be witnessed by the end of the month,” The Post-Star reported. “Some physicians are hoping that the disease will disappear suddenly, much in the way it appeared. Others, however, believe that there will be many scattered cases left in the wake that will hold on for a number of weeks.”

New patient calls to the Red Cross emergency hospital set up at Glens Falls armory had steadily decreased from 34 on Oct. 10 to 23 on Oct. 11, 27 on Oct. 12, 19 on Oct. 13, 10 on Oct. 14, and seven on Oct. 15.

Glens Falls City Clerk Edwin Hall said the city had a record number of 49 deaths in the first 12 days of October, compared with a normal average of 300 deaths a year or about 25 a month, The Post-Star reported on Oct. 15.

In Hudson Falls, 35 people had died from influenza, and it was expected the total could reach as high as 50.

Dr. R.A. Hogan resigned as secretary of the Hudson Falls draft exemption board because caring for those sick with influenza and pneumonia was taking all of his time.

In Greenwich, the Greenwich Woman’s Club established a community kitchen to prepare and deliver meals to families of the ill and deceased.

“There are many cases of entire families being stricken with the disease and the members of the club are striving to make those people comfortable until they can do for themselves,” The Post-Star reported. “Donations of chickens and eggs, and in fact most all kinds of nourishing food, are asked.”

Post-Star reports referenced in this post can be found at the New York State Historic Newspapers website, a project of public libraries.

Maury Thompson is a freelance historian of politics, labor organizing and media in New York’s North Country. He lives in Glens Falls, N.Y.