One Hundred Years Ago Plus Three

Researched and written by Stephen Dock

One morning in March 1918, at a U.S. Army training camp in Kansas, a cook complained of flu-like symptoms. By lunchtime another 107 soldiers had the same symptoms. Five weeks later, more than 1,000 soldiers had been infected and 47 were dead. The deadly influenza tore through the overcrowded army training camps populated by one million new recruits; and the doughboys sent to Europe in the spring of 1918 carried it with them.

In Philadelphia the Director of Public Health wouldn’t listen to pleas from doctors and refused to cancel a parade to promote the sale of government war bonds. The parade was attended by 200,000 people. Three days later every bed in the city’s hospitals was filled.

From the Mangum Star 3 Oct. 1918 (Edited)
“Greer County Soldier Dies at Camp Dix in New Jersey, his body shipped home.


The Soldier died of pneumonia last week, and his body was shipped home for burial. A military escort accompanied the Soldier’s body. Thousands of people came during the two days made available to view his body, before his burial.”

Seven days after the military escort arrived with his body. . .

From the Mangum Star 10 Oct. 1918 (Edited)
“An order was issued by health officials closing all schools until further notice. Also all public gatherings of any sort are prohibited, to include Churches and Movie theaters. All children are requested to remain at home.”

From the Mangum Star 10 Oct. 1918 (Edited)
“Many Deaths In Homes This Past Week.”

From the Granite Enterprise 24 Oct. 1918 (Edited)
“Dr. Border received a telegram from the State Board of Health warning that no raising of the quarantine is to be permitted until a general announcement is made from State Headquarters permitting same. This of course means that the epidemic is not yet sufficiently stamped out to permit of public gatherings.”

From the Granite Enterprise 24 Oct. 1918 (Edited)
“In Greer County there have been 1211 cases of the Flu. There have been 70 cases of pneumonia complications, resulting in 11 deaths.”

From the Granite Enterprise 6 Dec 1918
“The public school at Granite has again been closed on account of the renewed outbreak of influenza, and will not again reopen this year.”

Doctors treating patients during the plague wore masks with long, bird-like beaks. At the time, disease was believed to spread through bad smells that wafted through the air. The beak was stuffed with herbs, spices and dried flowers to ward off the odors believed to spread the plague. They had the right idea the long beaks created social distance between patient and doctor and at least partially covered their mouth and nose.
In 1916, the students of an open-air school were children who had been exposed to tuberculosis but weren’t actively sick. Over that first cold winter, the children snuggled in wearable blankets known as “Eskimo sitting bags” and placed heated soap stones at their feet. A fire in a stove helped blunt the chill, but the classroom never reached more than 10 degrees above what it was outside.

Our hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 9:00 – 3:00. On weekdays and weekends that we are not open you may call for a private tour, please contact Stephen at 580 471-9917. (Admission is by donation)

It’s always membership drive time as well, the month you join is the month you are due after a year, we use your membership money to keep the day-to-day operation of the museum going.  Without the community support the museum would not be able to continue to do what we do, Education, Preservation, and Tours. So please plan on renewing or becoming a member of the museum.

If you would like to help benefit the museum, you can send a check for a donation, membership (memberships are $25 per person or $40 per Household per year, or lifetime for $1000) or both to:  Old Greer County Museum, PO Box 2, Mangum, OK  73554.  And thank you in advance!

Have A Safe Week!