An article in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer states that “Flu cases in Northeast Ohio and across the state are starting to rise, public health officials warn, but there’s still ample time to get a flu shot.”
My wife and I got our flu shots back in October, but this news report reminded me of far we have come in organizing preventative and treatment measures regarding influenza. The reason that I know a little about this subject is that I was doing some research about ancestors and collateral relatives who served in America’s military during World War I. As you may know, there was a terrible epidemic of influenza in 1918. It was terrible enough that it was called a pandemic, the worst level of epidemic. Some reports say the death toll world wide was 22 million.
The case in point for me is Albert C Butcher, the stepson of my 5th cousin 1x removed, according to the calculations of Ancestry.com on my Huskonen-Dingman-Vancourt-Scheppelmann family tree. Albert was related both to me and to my wife, as he was the son of Mary Jane’s grandmother, Mary (Heinselman) Butcher VanCourt by her first husband, Albert Theodore Butcher. After Albert Theodore’s death, Mary married James S Van Court, MJ’s grandfather.
Anyway, Albert was training for Army service at Camp Pike in Arkansas when he fell ill with the flu and died. His death was reported by his mother, Mary, in a journal she was keeping at the time. It is the only record of any type that we have that he died during his very brief military career. I will report later on his life and details of his draft in a later post, including why there is little official evidence available for his death.
I plan a series of reports about WWI ancestors and collateral relatives in the coming months, in commemoration of America’s entry into WWI 100 years ago, on April 6, 1917.