Thursday, October 12, 2017

Influenza Pandemic 1918 - 1919 Killed Many People

The influenza pandemic of 1918 - 1919 killed approximately 20 to 50 million people world wide. More than 25% of the U.S. population became sick and some 675,000 Americans died.[1]  The first wave of influenza hit Europe in the Spring of 1918 and was generally mild. A second wave, however, came in the Fall of 1918 and was much worse, killing many people within days - and sometimes hours - of contracting the disease. Because Spain was one of the earliest countries to be hit  hard by the influenza, the disease was also known as the "Spanish Flu."

The influenza did not distinguish who caught this highly contagious disease.  Healthy, young people, normally more resistant to disease, fell victim along with older people with health problems.  Many World War I soldiers caught the disease and one report says more men died from the disease than were killed in battle during the war.[2] 

Two of the young people who succumbed  to the influenza were Sible Josephene and William Ralph Trail, children of William W. and George Ann Trail of Livingston County, Kentucky. One tombstone holds silent vigil over their graves in Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

June 3, 1909
Nov. 29, 1918

June 2, 1902
Dec. 1, 1918
Sleep on dear children and take thy rest
In Jesus arms forever blest
Children of W.W. Trail

Both children died of  the deadly combination of influenza and pneumonia, according to their death certificates.[3] Their parents were identified as William W. Trail, born Livingston County, and George Ann Curnell, born Crittenden County, Kentucky.  William Trail and George Ann Curnell married 23 November 1898, Livingston County.[4]

[1] "Flu Pandemic," History online,, accessed 1 September 2017.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Kentucky Death Certificate, #40800, William Ralph Trail,, accessed 1 September 2017 and #40801, Sible Josephine Trail,, accessed 1 September 2017.
[4]  Kentucky, Compiled Marriages 1851 - 1900,, accessed 1 September 2017.

Published 12 October 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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