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The Devastation of the 1918 Flu Pandemic

The Devastation of the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Almost 100 years ago the world suffered from a devastating flu pandemic. It literally killed more people around the globe than World War I and infected over one-fifth of the world’s population. (1)  The virus spread quickly due to global troop movements and the return home of millions of soldiers and sailors from foreign shores with the end of World War I. This particular strain of influenza was different in that it was most deadly to 20 -40 year-olds; whereas the majority of strains took their toll on the young and elderly. (2)

My late mother-in-law told me at one time that she never knew her paternal grandparents as they’d died in the 1918 flu epidemic. It wasn’t until I started researching this side of our family that I realized how devastating it was to this branch of ancestors.

Herbert and Carrie Hauk Atherton lived with their six children in Hancock County, Indiana, in a tiny town named Straughn. When I say tiny, I’m not joking; the population in Straughn in 2010 was 222. (3) The Athertons and their six children lived here until tragedy struck in November 1918.

Carrie, mother of six, aged twenty-nine years, contracted the deadly virus and died on 29 November 1918 (4). Her husband Herbert, aged thirty-four years was buried next to her on 9 December 1918 (5), a victim of the same deadly flu strain. After the couple’s two-year-old son Arthur succumbed to influenza on Christmas Day 1918, he was buried next to them in the Philadelphia Church Cemetery located in Hancock County, Indiana. (6)

The tragic loss of their parents left the five orphaned Atherton children in need of homes. Daughters Katherine and Nola ages 14 and 11 respectively, went to live with their mother’s parents Joseph and Mary Hauk, in Indianapolis (7) and the two boys, Joseph and Edwin, ages 7 and 5 respectively, went to live with a farmer and his wife in Delaware County, Indiana, near Muncie. (8) Both boys are listed as “orphans” on the 1920 census, living with Daniel and Hattie Ulrich. Joseph lived with the Ulriches until he was old enough to move out and by the age of 18 was working at a .5 and .10 store, living as a boarder in the home of Fletcher and Gladola Moffitt in Muncie. (9) What happened to the fifth sibling is unknown at this time.

My husband’s grandfather, Joseph Atherton moved to Indianapolis and became quite well-known as an amateur golfer around town. He was the club manager at several golf clubs including those in Greenfield, Crawfordsville, and Speedway, Indiana.  Joseph was married four times and died in 1967 of a brain tumor. He is buried at Bunnell Cemetery in Clinton County, Indiana. (10)

Katherine Atherton wed Herbert Klika in September 1928. (11) She passed away in August 1961 and sometime in the years following, her husband went on to marry her sister, Nola. She passed away in September 1974,in Greenfield, Indiana . (12)

Edwin Atherton married Martha Duke in 1936 and the two had a son, Gary Eugene in 1937. Edwin joined the Army in 1943 and served during World War II. After returning stateside he joined the National Guard. (13) Edwin died in Margate City, New Jersey on 27 April 1978 and is buried at Dayton National Cemetery in Ohio. (14)

The deaths of Herbert and Carrie broke up the entire Atherton family. Sadly, they were only one of many so affected by the 1918 flu pandemic.

(1) https://virus.stanford.edu/uda/, retrieved 16 September 2016.

(2) Ibid.

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straughn,_Indiana, retrieved 16 September 2016.

(4) Death certificate for Carrie Hauk Atherton. Ancestry.com. Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.Original data:Indiana State Board of Health. Death Certificates, 1900–2011. Microfilm. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

(5) The Hancock Democrat, 12 December 1918, page 1, via Newspapers.com.

(6) Death certificate for Arthur Lee Atherton. Ancestry.com. Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.Original data:Indiana State Board of Health. Death Certificates, 1900–2011. Microfilm. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

(7) 1920 United States Federal Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Indianapolis Ward 10, Marion, Indiana; Roll: T625_454; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 185; Image: 832

(8) 1920 United States Federal Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Monroe, Delaware, Indiana; Roll: T625_427; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 52; Image: 362

(9) 1930 United States Federal Census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Muncie, Delaware, Indiana; Roll: 583; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0008; Image: 240.0; FHL microfilm: 2340318

(10) Death certificate for Joseph Emmett Atherton. Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011 – Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com. Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.Original data:Indiana State Board of Health. Death Certificates, 1900–2011. Microfilm. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

(11) Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XXN7-67H : 21 January 2016), Herbert H Klika and Katherine Louise Atherton, 22 Sep 1928; citing Henry, Indiana, United States, various county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,887,604.

(12) Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011.

(13) National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.Original data: Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; ARC: 1263923. World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland, U.S.A.

(14) National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.

 

 

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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Stubby’s Tale

In my last blog post I wrote of Charles Holloway’s service during World War I and his subsequent death as a result of poison gas while stationed in France. I’d be remiss if I neglected to share his brother Oscar’s story as well.

Oscar was a veterinary student at Ohio State University and a ROTC cadet when he registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. (1) Stub, or Stubby as he was known, joined the newly formed Veterinary Corps, whose purpose was to maintain the health and treat the large number of mules, horses and dogs used in France during World War I.  Falling under the umbrella of the United States Army Medical Department, the Veterinary Corps was formed in 1916.

“The American Expeditionary Force required large numbers of animals to accomplish a  variety of missions ranging from cavalry mounts, artillery transport to logistical supply and ambulance service. The rugged and muddy French terrain was better suited to animals than gas-powered engines.” (2)

Like his brother Charles, Oscar served in the Meuse-Argonne Defensive sector and was stationed there from 14 March 1918 to 8 May 1919. (3) Treating the innumerable wounds, broken bones, and illnesses of the over 165,000 mules and horses used must have been mentally and physically staggering.

us-army-veterinary-corp

World War I Veterinary Corps Recruiting Poster (top) and a soldier and horse in gas masks (below) via http://www.veterinarycorps.amedd. army.mil

working_horse-gas-mask

Oscar and Charles survived the war and after the Armistice was signed in November 1918, the brothers remained in France to take in the sights. For two small town boys from Ohio, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

postcard-from-osc-holloway-1919

1919 Postcard from Oscar to his parents in Piqua, Ohio. How’s everybody? Paris is nice but not compared to N.Y., Piqua, or Lockington (Lockport). Chas. and I are O.K.   Stub.

The boys returned home and Oscar wed Georgia Moore in Champaign, Ohio, on 10 June 1920.(4)  Oscar and Georgia settled in Piqua on the same street as Oscar’s parents (the 500 block of South Main Street in Piqua was known at the time as “Holloway Row” because the parents and their children all lived on the same street).

Oscar set up a veterinary clinic in town and after two years of marriage, he and Georgia welcomed a son, Oscar Eugene to the world. Oscar was highly-respected in Piqua and he eventually opened another clinic in Springcreek Township, about five miles east of Piqua.

On 6 May 1930, Oscar was driving on the Statler Pike east of Piqua when he collided with a car driven by Arthur McBeth. The collision forced Oscar to swerve, causing his car to overturn twice due to speed and momentum.(5) Oscar suffered a severe skull fracture which led to his death the following day. Oscar’s wife Georgia became a widow with a seven-year-old son overnight. To make matters worse, Oscar and Georgia had lost a child in January of that year. The death of Charles in 1922 and Oscar in 1930 were no doubt overwhelming for their parents, William and Nellie Craig Holloway.

Oscar was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Piqua, near his brother’s plot. Oscar’s eldest brother William became administrator of his estate and sued Mr. McBeth, the driver of the car that forced Oscar off the road. A jury later awarded $2,500 to William for damages; a small consolation for the loss of a father, husband, brother and son. (6)

oscar-i-holloway-2-1891-1930

Headstone of Oscar Irwin Holloway, Forest Hill Cemetery, Piqua, Ohio.

 

  1. Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Franklin; Roll: 1832031; Draft Board: 4, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Record for Oscar Irwin Holloway.

    2.  http://veterinarycorps.amedd.army.mil/history/ww1/ww1.htm, retrieved 9 Sept 2016.

    3. Ancestry.com. Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.Original data: The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917-18. Columbus, OH, USA: The F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1926.

    4. Record for Oscar Holloway and Georgia Moore.  Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XDC4-56Z : 8 December 2014)

    5. Piqua Daily Call, 6 May 1930, page 10.

    6. Piqua Daily Call, 8 November 1930, page 43.

     

 

 

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