From the miscellaneous drawer - The Grippe of 1904

by Anne Swenson

Current television news lately has reported on young people who have died in the current influenza outbreak. If that media had been extant over 100 years ago, I imagine that this could have been a news flash of APRIL 15, 1904, PONCA CITY, OK, Elora Grace (Gelvin) Standard, 34, mother of six, died of the grippe (influenza) six days after the death of her husband, Alva A. Standard, 41, (April 9, 1904). On April 7, 1904, Elora gave birth to her sixth child.
Although farm neighbors considered adopting them or placing the children on the orphan train, the six children, ages 12, 10, 7, 5, 2 and eight days, remain on the family farm.
They are being cared for by their Illinois grandparents: Martha, age 60, and her husband, James R. Gelvin, 79.
The crops were harvested and on August 5, 1904 the Standard farm: 3 horses, 12 cattle, 4 hogs, farm equipment, chickens, household furniture including an organ was sold at auction.
The grandparents then took the children by train to their farm home in Illinois, enduring a train wreck just past the Iowa border. James, a Civil War veteran and battle survivor died in 1905. Martha in 1928.
My mother, the five year old survivor noted above, was without parents and therefore no grandparents were part of my life either.
And yes, I do get a flu shot each year in the fall and consider that any percentage of effectiveness is far better than the lack of it in 1904.
In March 1904, this is what Elora wrote home to the family in Illinois:

“This is the first day of the Equious wind in the south and southwest. It rained a small shower this morning about 6:30 but soon dried off and misted a couple times a little this am but this pm the sun shines bright. It rained a shower here Wed. night, a small one but in Kildare it rained for two hours and water stood in the road for several days.
“We have all been at home all day and the children have all been home all week. Measles are bad in the school and as soon as I found it out I took them out. Yesterday was the ninth day. I don’t know whether they are exposed or not. They never played with the big girl that took them and I do not want them to get them now if I can help it for it’s only the last week that I have quit doctoring them for grippe (influenza) and got over it myself so I felt like doing anything.”
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In the Ely Echo for Jan 25, 1988, 30 years ago, the headlines were:
• Rick Anderson lands community development job for City of Ely;
• Eight Echo treasure chests sought in Ely and surrounding area;
• Charles and Norma McKinley were new owners of Ely Family Shoes;
• Ely Rec Board settles non-residents user fee issue;
Two shows to highlight Wilderness Trek weekend.