Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

1918 Influenza Epidemic

In response to the anonymous posting to Calling 967 :

Statistics for infectious diseases are maintained by the Department of Health. However, local newspapers often can provide traces of when such epidemics are prevalent in our region. You can often find notices in the social columns that announce entire families having been ill with Typhoid and other infectious diseases like Influenza.

I was able to find an article in 1937, when New York State’s population dropped by 1200 people due to high outbreaks of influenza, combined with low birth rates for the same period. At that time, the report indicated that prior to 1937 there were only 4 other times in New York’s history when the population had similar drops. The report indicates that this happened in October 1918, November 1918, February 1920 and January 1928.

In particular to our readers question, 1918 was a wide spread epidemic that impacted all communities in our region. Spanish Influenza was a big concern at this time. Many towns canceled public events in attempts to slow down the spreading. Even the church in Emerson canceled church services due to influenza.

Among the hardest hit with the 1918 epidemic was the City of Auburn. Many of the nurses at the hospital contracted the influenza while caring for their patients. The outbreak was so severe, if the cause of death was from influenza, public burials were forbidden.

Here is a good article about the 1918 influenza outbreak that provides some insight.

Thank you for your question.