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The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 and How It Affected the City of Schenectady, New York
Chapter VI: The Pandemic Strikes Schenectady

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[This information is from pp. 39-57 of The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 and How It Affected the City of Schenectady, New York by Alan Morris (Schenectady: Union College, 1986) and is reproduced here with the permission of the author. It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 974.744 Mor. Title inside cover is America and Influenza: The Pandemic of 1918-19 and How It Affected the City of Schenectady, New York.]

The first sign of influenza in the City of Schenectady was the death of a Rotterdam Junction woman of pneumonia caused influenza on September 22. Mrs. J. Comisky died in Ellis Hospital after being admitted with her one-year old baby, who was also sick. The next day, the Schenectady Gazette reported that there were at least fifty cases of "grippe" reported in Rotterdam Junction over the previous two weeks. (1)

On September 28, Dr. Walter Clark, the Schenectady City health officer announced that there were "several suspected cases of Spanish Influenza under quarantine for observation within the city proper." Clark said that only one of the cases had actually been diagnosed as influenza, and the others were being observed. He further stated that there was nothing to cause excitement if the "most common precautions were taken." (2)

Unfortunately, Dr. Clark was quite wrong. Less than 3 days later, on October 1, Major McKerracher, the commander of the army detachment stationed at the South Schenectady (Rotterdam) Military Warehouses, reported that forty of his men were on the sick list with influenza, and three had already died. According to the Major's report, most of the cases were among the "susceptible negro troops" of the detachment. Twenty-four of the most serious cases (19 black, 5 white) were moved from the barracks to Ellis on October 2, and they were the only influenza patients in the hospital at the time. After meeting with several other physicians, Dr. Clark announced that he felt the disease would remain confined to the military personnel at the warehouse and spread no further. He did, however, assign two members of the contagious disease staff to be on alert should an emergency arise. Influenza was also reported in Scotia, Glenville and Saratoga on October 2. (3)

The next day the Gazette reported that "contrary to reports yesterday that the influenza epidemic was on the wane… inquiry from many physicians proved that the exact opposite is the truth." (4) There were twenty-two more cases reported at the Military Warehouses, bringing the total to sixty-two, and for the first time, civilian cases were reported within the city. The health department placed the eleven houses under quarantine. (5) All these homes were in the same area, South Schenectady, and close to the site of the Military Warehouses. The obvious conclusion is that the epidemic started at the Military Warehouses and spread to the surrounding neighborhoods. This area was primarily blue collar, and obviously, the workers brought the infection to work with them, and spread it to their fellow workers.

From the beginning of the epidemic, the Gazette reported many instances of entire families stricken by influenza, such as the Stein family of 507 South Center Street. They were one of the first families to contract the disease, and they suffered particularly severe cases. On October 3 and 4, the Gazette published the following reports:

Oct. 3 — The Bureau of Charities has made arrangements to care for the Stein family of 507 South Central Street. The Bureau's representative found a pitiful condition of affairs at the… home. A baby was in the crib, dead, and the rest of the family, seven, with the father and mother, all suffering from the disease. Mrs. Krinda, the contagious nurse, had the mother and five children taken to the Altamont Avenue Isolation Hospital, where developments will be watched.

Oct. 4 — The pitiful case of the Stein family… has excited deep feeling. The second child, two years old, is threatened with death. The entire family was taken to detention Hospital — all suffering from influenza… (6)

Another black soldier from the Warehouses died on October 4, and the military seemed to believe that even though white civilians were also dying, the disease was strictly a problem among the black soldiers. The general manager for construction at the Warehouses was quoted as saying "The men at the Warehouses, that is the workingmen [white civilians), are unusually free from the disease. The attacks appear to exist almost wholly among the colored soldiers." (7)

Although nothing is known about the conditions in which these troops were housed, if their barracks in anyway resembled the typical barracks found at military bases around the country, it is no wonder that influenza was able to sweep through their detachment like wildfire. The conditions of the war caused great overcrowding in most military bases, and this contributed significantly to the higher attack rates found within the military.

On the same day, Ellis Hospital appointed Drs. S. Ham, Warren Stone and Louis Faust to a committee in charge of influenza cases there. The result of the committee's first meeting was the establishment of an influenza isolation ward. Dr. Faust stated that he felt the epidemic had reached its zenith. (8)

By Monday, October 7, the situation had worsened seriously enough to cause the Mayor to call a special conference with Health Officer Dr. Clark, Commissioner of Public Safety John Alexander, Superintendent of Schools Frank Palmer, Commissioner of Public Works S. M. Bishop, and various other city officials. Fourteen people had died over the weekend, including the G. E.'s General Manager, George Emmons, and the citizenry was beginning to get scared.

The first step the Mayor took was to call Maj. McKerracher at the Military Warehouses to ask him to stop issuing passes to his troops. Dr. Clark also imposed strict quarantines on homes with known cases, and consulted state health authorities to determine the proper course for containing the epidemic.

Dr. Clark reported the morbidity at an estimated 1,000 cases of influenza within the city. Frank Palmer, Superintendent of Schools reported that school attendance was thirteen percent below normal. General Electric and ALCO reported absentee rates as high as fifty percent in certain departments, and the Schenectady Railway Company claimed that sixty of its employees did not show up for work. (9)

Based on these reports and the conditions in other cities, the committee issued two statements: an appeal by the Mayor, and an official order on measures to combat the epidemic:

To The People of Schenectady:

As a result of the conference held this morning the determination to close all schools, theaters, moving picture houses, churches, lodges, and in general, all places of public meeting and entertainment, until further notice, was reached in the interest of public health and safety. Reports coming in through the Health Department reveal the alarming proportions to which the Spanish influenza is reaching throughout the city. The supremacy of the public health demands drastic action to check further spread of the disease. Hearty cooperation on the part of the general public will be the most effective method of conquering it before it gains further headway. We earnestly ask, therefore, that every person in the City of Schenectady follow the recommendations of the Department of Health and assist in the fight to prevent further spread of the disease.

Signed,
Charles A. Simon, Mayor
Dr. Walter M. Clark, Health Officer

The official order, which was issued by the Commissioner of Public Safety John Alexander, put further restrictions on the number of passengers that could be carried on the city's trolley cars, and ordered all cafes, restaurants and ice cream parlors to sterilize their glasses and dishes. (10)

Following the committee's announcements, Niskayuna, Saratoga and Scotia also decided to close their schools. In addition, G. E. and ALCO postponed indefinitely their employee Liberty Loan parades. (11)

Public reaction to the Committee's proclaimation was mixed. Most people complied willingly, but others, notably the resturant, theater and saloon owners thought the restrictions were unfair. The Gazette printed the following editorial on the day the proclamations were issued:

DO YOUR SHARE

With its schools and all places of public assemblages closed, Schenectady settles down to fight the influenza epidemic in a systematic way. If everyone cooperates with the health authorities and physicians of the city, it may not take long to stamp out the disease. But there are must be care. The first trace of what ordinarily would be called a simple cold must be given the most energetic treatment. It is safest to call a doctor. Use handkerchiefs and disinfectant frequently.

As for the action of the city authorities in closing places where people congregate, it must be said that they were done with fairness and thoroughness. It would have been risky and unsafe to have closed the schools and left the theaters open, and just as bad to have closed the "movies" and left the schools open. It now becomes the duty of parents to see that their children are kept apart from others. It is not necessary to keep them indoors, but there should be no gathering where germs can spread.

There will be a heavy loss all around. That is inevitable. Business wil suffer and not the least will be the fourth liberty loan campaign. That is but part of what we must pay for the plagues that fate sends our way.

There should be no disposition to regard this epidemic with other than full comprehension of its seriousness. It is not a case of a cold from bad weather, but a real epidemic that kills before its grip on a person is realized. The hope that ways will be found to combat it successfully and check its ravages at the onset of a season that ordinarily is well adapted to its spread. (12)

Three more deaths were reported on October 8 and an estimated three thousand cases. A city poll of undertakers revealed that seventy-five funerals had taken place between October 2 and 7. Dr. Clark recommended that "the numerous funerals in the city be restricted to the immediate relatives, as large funerals are sure breeders of influenza." (13) Church funerals would be sanctioned only if deemed imperative, and even then friends of the deceased would not be allowed to attend. This new restriction caused a mild public outrage when Rev. E. C. L. Schulze, the pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church, died of influenza on October 12. He had been the church's only pastor since its founding in 1880, and if there were no restrictions, hundreds of people would have attended his funeral. (14)

At the October meeting of the Schenectady County Medical Society, a decision was made to draft a set of "rules" to be printed and distributed throughout the city to help inform the public about Spanish influenza. This document read as follows:

Spanish influenza, which is a severe form of ordinary grippe, is a highly communicable disease which affects the nose, throat and lungs. The germs enter and leave the body through the nose and mouth, and if the discharges from the nose and mouth can be prevented from infecting others, the epidemic will immediately disapear.

The society recommends the following rules for the protection of individuals. If you must cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief. If you come in contact with a person coughing or sneezing, protect yourself in a similar manner. Avoid contacts with groups of people. Keep by yourself. When engaged in conversation, do not talk directly into one another's face. Do not visit or come into contact with any of your sick friends, unless it is absolutely necessary for their assistance.

Owing to the unprecendented demands on the depleted ranks of the medical profession, the physicians of this society are finding it practically impossible to attend calls received late in the day. For your protection and securing prom p t attention, calls should be sent in before 8 o'clock in the morning. (15)

The city issued its first call for volunteer nurses on October 9. Miss Ann McGee was appointed the director of public health nursing and given the job of organizing a corps of women to help relieve the already overworked nurses of the city. The volunteers were asked to go on rounds with the city nurses and offer any possible assistance. (16)

"Twelve More Die as Plague Rages in City" was the front page headline of the Gazette on October 10. Fifty-seven more cases were reported on the ninth, and no official would venture a guess as to how many were not reported. Because of the great number of cases, the city decided to reopen Mercy Hospital, which had closed in 1917 because of finanical reasons. Mrs. Z. Z. Brockett, a nurse at Ellis, was placed in charge of the hospital, and another call for volunteer nurses went out. (17) At Ellis, the situation was poor. Cots were placed in the hall, and extra beds were moved into the wards. Patients were turned away because there was simply no place to put them. An appeal was made to the public to donate any extra bedding for use at both Ellis and Mercy. (18)

Helping the living was not the city's only problem. The morgues were (both municipal and private) all overcrowded, and the undertakers were constantly busy. Another major problem was the lack of caskets in which to bury the epidemic's victims. One undertaker remarked:

We are having great difficulty in not being able to get a sufficient number of caskets. The express company has its troubles too. They have 12 men on the sick list, and today the head of the local division jumped on the wagon, hustled "boxes" aboard and then helped to deliver them himself. (19)

The commissioner of Public Safety issued a notice to resturants that added more precautions:

NOTICE

To the Proprietors and all Employees of Places Serving Food and Drink to the Public:

Until further notice all persons concerned in the serving of food or drink to the public will take the following measures for the protection of the public health:

All dishes, drinking glasses, table cutlery and other utensils used by more than one person must be thoroughly washed and rinsed in boiling water for a period of five minutes, or paper glasses and dishes may be used and then destroyed.

The above applies in particular to ice cream parlors, soda fountains, saloons, cafes, hotels, resturants and lunch rooms. By order of

John Alexander, Commissioner of Public Safety (20)

As a further preventive measure, Alexander also ordered that the downtown streets be sprayed with a disinfectant to get rid of any germs that may have been present.

On October 11, the Gazette reported that "there seems to be no abatement of the influenza epidemic in Schenectady, on the contrary, every hour sees new cases reported, more calls for doctors who are already over worked, and many fatalities." (21) Fourteen more people had died and 285 new cases were reported. The epidemic was now reaching almost all parts of the city; cases were reported on Albany Street, Crane Street, Foster Avenue, Rugby Road, Eastern Parkway, Hamilton Street, Seward Place and Front Street. There was not a neighborhood that did not have a case. (22)

The overload of patients began to affect the city's physicians. After making his sixty-second call of the day, Dr. E. J. Senn remarked:

I would give $50 for the chance to go home and sleep for 12 hours; I have not had two hot meals in two days — I just grab a sandwich and a cup of coffee and jump in the machine and begin the weary round of sick, sicker and sickest." (23)

With some hasty renovations, the situation at Ellis Hospital had greatly improved. A new ward was opened on the second floor, private rooms were turned into doubles or triples, and the sun porches were enclosed. In addition, Albany Medical College "volunteered" some fourth-year students to work at Ellis for the duration of the epidemic. Dr. Louis Faust, a staff physician at Ellis, and a member of the hospital's "influenza committee," announced that the hospital staff was going to try a new treatment for the very severe cases of influenza. The physicians were going to infuse blood from influenza patients into patients with very severe cases. "This is because a patient who has had the disease has formed "anti" bodies which fight the influenza bodies, and these, when injected into the blood of a new patient will help combat the germs." (24)

As the number of cases and fatalities increased, the more the public became frightened. On October 11, the Gazette printed another editorial telling the citizens of Schenectady to remain calm:

KEEP COOL

With Schenectady firmly in the grip of what is known as the Spanish influenza, there is but one thing for all — sick and well — to do, and that is to remain calm. The city and local doctors and nurses are doing all in their power to combat the plague, and it will be of immeasurable value to them if every resident, man and woman, remain cool.

Worry over the possiblity of being attacked by the plague is one of the best ways to aid it in its ravages, for worry as much as anything else, weakens the system, and good health is essential in fighting the disease.

Simple and easily followed rules have been laid down by those who are conducting the campaign against the influenza, and they have been published. If you do not know already what to do, learn at once and then obey orders. That is the easiest way for you to keep well and thus help in checking the spread of the plague.

Keep cool! (25)

In addition to the municipal agencies, the Schenectady chapter of the American Red Cross also put out a plea for women volunteers to help fight the epidemic. "With an ever increasing demand of hospital facilities for nurses and women to assist in homes where entire families have been stricken, the city health department has called on the Red Cross for aid." Besides nurses, the Red Cross wanted volunteers who could cook, clean and manage homes in which the mother was ill. In addition, the Red Cross asked for donations of beds, sheets, blankets, nightclothes and towels. (26)

Another 17 people died on October 11, and more than two hundred new cases were reported. Although this was the highest death toll thus far, Dr. Clark was optimistic: "[I] hope the worst has passed, and yet [we] must safeguard against overconfidence and carelessness." (27) The epidemic was beginning to affect the city's war production; General Electric had nearly 2,000 absent workers (ten percent of its workforce) and ALCO reported that 600 of its workers did not show up for work. (28)

The situation seemed to take a turn for the better on Monday, October 14. There were only five deaths and 146 new cases reported over the weekend. Dr. Clark reiterated his warning to the public on overconfidence: "This is the critical point in the campaign against the plague; we must be careful… it [the public] must not relax its vigilance for one minute." (29)

Dr. Warren Stone, the city Pathologist and Director of Laboratories at Ellis Hospital, began innoculating people aganist influenza with a vaccine that he had developed. Stone, who was trained as a microbiologist, had patients suffering from influenza cough onto a Petri dish that was covered with a nutrient rich agar, thus obtaining a culture of mixed microorganisms. The plates were cooked in an incubator, and then made into a suspension and injected into the patients. (30) The vaccine was first tried on doctors and nurses on October 7. One week later Stone reported that to the best of his knowledge, not one of the approximately four hundred people inoculated had either caught influenza or had an allergic reaction to the injection. Between October 1918 and January 1919, Stone's laboratory produced nearly 34,000 doses of the vaccine, and approximately 15,000 people were innoculated. Dr. Stone's statistics show that while 15% of the general public contracted influenza, only 1% of those innoculated were stricken. (31)

Did the vaccine work? Stone's data indicate the vaccine was effective, but it was probably useless. When Dr. Stone first developed his vaccine, only Ellis hospital staff members, doctors, and nurses who happened to come to the hospital received it. Mass inoculations of the general public, including G.E. and ALCO employees, did not begin until October 24. By that date, the virulence of the epidemic was declining. The more people were exposed to the influenza virus, the more resistant their bodies became to it, i.e. their immune systems were able to make more anti-bodies to fight the infection off. The increase in immune response led to a lower number of fatalities and a greater number of less serious cases (see p. 45). Furthermore, Stone reported that there were no allergic reactions to his vaccine. The probable explanation is that the vaccines prepared were sterile, that is, they contained no microrganisms. During the preparations the cultures from which the vaccines were made were incubated. In all likelihood, the cultures were "overcooked," and all the microorganisms destroyed, rendering the vaccine hypoallergic and totally non-effective. The fact that only one doctor and none of the nurses vaccinated were stricken can also be explained. Quite simply, those who worked in the health professions knew the proper precautions to take in order to avoid becoming victims themselves. Furthermore, it is possible that the physicians and nurses may have had subclinical cases that provided them with immunity to influenza. In short, Dr. Stone was lucky. (32)

The optimism of October 14 did not last very long because nineteen people died that day. Dr. Clark reported that even though the day had brought the highest death toll, the number of new cases was the lowest it had been since the beginning of the epidemic. He was convinced that the worst was finally over. In a strange twist of fate, the local hero, Dr. Stone, was called up for military service. Personal appeals by the Mayor and Schenectady Congressman George Lunn to the surgeon general in Washington were successful and Dr. Stone was allowed to remain in Schenectady. The Commissioner of Public Safety announced two more restrictions: Spitting on the sidewalks and peddling in influenza infested areas was now illegal within the city. (33)

With only nine deaths the following day, the citizens of Schenectady relaxed a little. Dr. Faust stated publically that he felt that the nature of the new cases seemed to be changing:

I have noticed that the character of the cases has changed. The cases I have seen for three days now are largely lighter cases. I assume that those people who were very susceptible are the ones who took it early. The next ones were those who it severely. I think now the less susceptible ones are taking it and it looks to me as if there are not so many serious cases appearing during the last two or three days, although there does not seem to be any let up in the number of new cases appearing. (34)

Mrs. Arthur Krida, the Director of the City Nursing Services, put out another plea for women volunteers. Feeling that many were afraid to volunteer because they feared infection, Krida said "those who report for service should not labor under the impression that they will be exposed to the disease, because they will be carefully instructed in methods of prevention." (35) Mrs. Krida emphasized the importance of reporting influenza cases to the health department early so that proper care could be given from the disease's onset.

Krida's appeal was echoed the following day by a local physician:

I cannot say too much in praise of the fine, big souled women who are doing so much to help in this crisis; but too, I cannot understand how hundreds of our young women can read and ignore the urgent, vital call sent out every day by your paper [the Gazette] for volunteers to help in this battle aganist the epidemic… The Hospitals need women workers, need them as they were never needed before… I hope sufficient numbers of women will come forward today and offer to help relieve this pressing need. (36)

After a few days of what seemed to be the beginning of the end, the situation within the city took a turn for the worse. On October 23, Dr. Clark reported that seventeen deaths and 346 new cases were reported in the previous forty-eight hours. "I want to feel optimistic, but Saturday things looked better, and today we are still facing a very critical situation," he said. (37) Schenectady's "Big Industries," General Electric and The American Locomotive Company, reported that thousands of workers were still absent from work. Another 146 cases and 6 deaths were reported the next day. Although the epidemic was still raging, the public was starting to get restless, and the restrictions were beginning to bother people. When asked when the bans would be lifted, Dr. Clark replied:

I shall be guided on that question by the entire medical profession, as I was guided by it in my determination to issue the closing order to safeguard the city.

I feel hopeful that we have the epidemic surrounded, but, there are new cases being reported every ten minutes… You may be very sure I will make certain the local situation is such that no further danger need be apprehended when we declare the ban on public gatherings lifted… I am going to be sure that the public health does not suffer for the benefit of any few citizens. (38)

Clark further stated that a meeting of the city's "medical men" would probably take place on Sunday to discuss the epidemic.

The same day, the New York State Health Department released a report that revealed that Schenectady was the hardest hit city in the Capital District. The statistics were compiled from telegraphic reports received on a daily basis from each city in the state.

Table Two: Fatalities Caused by the Epidemic up to October 22 Within the Capital District (39)

City
Deaths from Influenza
Deaths from Pneumonia
Total
Albany
176
50
226
Troy
106
48
154
Schenectady
262
49
311
Rensselaer
76
16
92
Cohoes
8
10
18
Watervliet
6
24
30

On Friday, October 25, both G. E. and ALCO announced plans to provide aid for their sick employees. In addition to organizing their own "in the field" medical staffs, both companies offered to provide fuel to any employee who was in need. In a similar vein, a group of downtown merchants drew up a petition asking the Mayor to take more action against the spread of influenza. The petition, which had several thousand signatures said:

We, the undersigned citizens of Schenectady… feel the time has come when some more drastic measures must be taken to stamp out this dread disease from our city and in a spirit of good will, and for the welfare of our community, suggest that the mayor call a meeting*… for the purpose of aiding and co-operating in the present crisis. (40)

[* The petition called for the Mayor to meet with various local religious, merchant and labor leaders.]

"Empty Beds Show Decline of Epidemic" was the headline the Gazette ran on Monday, October 28. Over the weekend, the number of cases reported dwindled. For the first time in weeks, doctors reported that they had no influenza cases to care for. Ellis Hospital had only 132 influenza patients, the lowest number since the second week of October. Dr. Clark, after consulting with many of the city's physicians, said that he found the situation quite encouraging. He again stressed the importance of continued caution and constant attenion for thoses who were still sick. (41)

The following day Mayor Simon issued a statement that partially lifted the ban on public gatherings. He allowed churches to reopen on Wednesday, October 30, and that the schools would reopen on Monday, November 4. The announcement that the churches were going to reopen caused an immediate protest from the theater owners. One man called the Gazette to ask "If the churches, with their packed assemblages and inferior ventilation can be open on Wednesday night, [why should] the theaters be compelled to remain closed although their ventilation systems are more modern and the places are thoroughly disinfected?" (42) As for waiting until Monday to open the schools, Simon defended his decision:

The school physicians, school nurses and a large number of school teachers are actively engaged in the fight aganist influenza. It would be unwise to reopen our schools to 18,000 pupils until the doctors and nurses can be relieved for medical supervision of the schools. It will be impossible to release for school work at an earlier date then this the physicians and nurses who are now serving the Health Department. (43)

Simon concluded his statement by saying that if the downward trend of the epidemic continued, all theaters, motion picture houses, bowling alleys, billard rooms and any other place that was closed by the official orders could also reopen on November 4.

The number of reported cases continued to fall as the week went on: sixty on Monday, fifty-one on Wedesday, and forty-nine on Friday. For the first time since late September, there were no deaths reported. Again, Clark warned aganist overconfidence: "[I] hope the people of Schenectady do not jump at conclusions — that is, conclude that the epidemic was stamped out. This would be highly erroneous and would result in much harm." (44)

By Monday morning, Schenectady seemed to return to normal. The Gazette reported that Austria had dropped out of the war, and that the armistice talks were going well. The newspaper picked up on the all but forgotten political campaigns for Tuesday's elections and were full of advertisements for the various candidates. Three local bowling leagues planned to start competion that night, and many city organizations announced that their weekly meetings would take place as usual. (45)

On November 7, the Gazette reported that "although the influenza epidemic in this city is not entirely stamped out, the reports are so light that no apprehension is felt." (46) Mrs. Arthur Krida, the head of city nursing, continued her plea for more volunteers to help deal with the aftermath of the epidemic.

"Armistice Terms Have Been Signed" was the news of Monday morning, November 11. At 2:50 am, it was announced that Germany agreed to end the fighting in Europe. As the news spread throughout the city, more and more people began to take to the streets. By mid-morning, a parade was heading down State Street. The celebrations went on until sundown. (47)

Not surprisingly, the demonstrations seemed to set off a "second epidemic" in the city. Within a week, 45 new cases were reported, but these new ones were of the mild form of the disease. Dr. Clark was sure that the peace celebrations were indeed the cause of this jump in the number of cases:

During the might fine peace processional… many thousands of our citizens were on the streets during the early morning and late at night. Many of these persons were thinly and carelessly clad… [and] God bless them, filled with joy and thanksgiving, and gave little thought to the ever danagerous disease that we had fought so hard and so long… this was dangerous, and the result is with us now. (48)

The following day, November 20, ninety-one new cases, all of the "mild form," were reported. There were forty-five cases reported on November 23, twenty-three on the 22nd, and ten on November 23. Mayor Simon commended the Health Department on its work: "I am glad to see this sporadic outbreak under control. Dr. Clark and his assistants have gone right to the root of the matter and stamped it out." (49)

The epidemic dragged itself out over the month of December, with a few isolated outbreaks. Although no figures exist on the number of cases there were, sixty-five deaths were reported. (Influenza did not become a reported disease until January, 1919.) Another, much more mild wave struck Schenectady in January 1919. There were 232 reported cases during January and thirty-four deaths. (50)

In the end, influenza claimed the lives of 404 citizens of Schenectady, and infected approximately 15,000. Gerardus Smith, the President of the Board of Directors of Ellis Hospital, wrote the following epitaph for the epidemic:

One of the first we think of in connection with 1918-1919 is the epidemic of influenza. May we never see the like of it again. With our nursing force depleted by sickness, our doctors worn out with work, and ordinary help almost impossible to get, we were taking care of fifty percent more patients than at any other time during the year. Our open porches were enclosed, sun parlors converted into wards, private rooms used for two or more patients, and in some cases, corridors were made up of to accomodate patients… our surgeons co-operated by bringing only acute cases, and people from all parts of the city loaned us cots, cribs, beds, etc. … (51)

To the people of Schenectady, human spirit prevailed over the ravages of the Spanish influenza.

Chapter VI Footnotes

  1. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, September 23, p. 3.
  2. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, September 28, p. 4.
  3. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 2, p. 3, and October 3, p. 8
  4. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 3, p. 8.
  5. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 3, p. 8.
  6. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 3, p. 8, and October 4, p. 1
  7. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 4, p. 1.
  8. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 4, p. 4.
  9. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 7, p. 1,4, and October 8, p. 1,4.
  10. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 8, p. 5.
  11. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 8, p. 5,9.
  12. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 8, p. 6.
  13. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 9, p. 5.
  14. Larry Hart, The Hospital on the Hill, 1985, pp. 82-83.
  15. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 9, p. 10.
  16. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 9, p. 5.
  17. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 10, p. 1,5
  18. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 10, p. 1,5
  19. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 10, p. 5.
  20. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 10, p. 5.
  21. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 11, p. 2.
  22. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 11, p. 2.
  23. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 11, p. 2.
  24. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 11, p. 2.
  25. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 11, p. 6
  26. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 11, p. 14.
  27. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 12, p. 1.
  28. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 12, p. 1.
  29. Schenectady Gazette, 1918, October 14, p. 1.
  30. Personal interview with Dr. Thomas Oram, Director of Pathology at Ellis Hospital, conducted on Febuary 27, 1986. Dr. Oram feels that this is the most probable method used by Stone. The minutes of the Schenectady County Medical Society show that on December 10, 1918, Dr. Stone gave a talk entitled "The Use of Vaccines in the So-called Influenza Epidemic," but the paper has since disappeared.
  31. "Report of the Pathologist," Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Schenectady, Volume Two — Reports, 1918, pp. 300-02; 1919, pp. 346-7. The Schenectady Gazette, October 7, 1918, p. 12.
  32. Personal interview with Dr. Thomas Oram; Larry Hart, The Hospital on the Hill, 1985, p. 87.
  33. Schenectady Gazette, October 15, p. 1.
  34. Schenectady Gazette, October 16, p. 5.
  35. Schenectady Gazette, October 16, p. 5.
  36. Schenectady Gazette, October 17, p. 1.
  37. Schenectady Gazette, October 21, p. 1.
  38. Schenectady Gazette, October 25, p. 5.
  39. Schenectady Gazette, October 25, p. 8.
  40. Schenectady Gazette, October 26, p. 11.
  41. Schenectady Gazette, October 28, p. 1.
  42. Schenectady Gazette, October 29, p. 1.
  43. Schenectady Gazette, October 29, p. 1.
  44. Schenectady Gazette, November 1, p. 9.
  45. Schenectady Gazette, November 4, many pages.
  46. Schenectady Gazette, November 7, p. 7.
  47. Larry Hart, Hospital on the Hill, 1985, p. 88.
  48. Schenectady Gazette, November 19, p. 1.
  49. Schenectady Gazette, November 20, p. 8; November 21, p. 10; November 22, p. 13, November 23, p. 4. Quote from November 22, p. 13.
  50. "Report of the Bureau of Health," Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Schenectady, Volume Two — Reports, 1919, pp. 343-4.
  51. The Hospital Association of the City of Schenectady, "President's Report," Report for the Year Ending June 30, 1919, pp. 7-8.

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