Last week I wrote about the Spanish Flu deaths here in Laurel County during the week of October 10-16, 1918. I reported seven deaths using the newspaper and the death certificates. Most likely there were other deaths which were not reported in either one of those sources, but those are the only sources I have available to use. This week I am providing information about the 22 deaths here in Laurel County from October 17 – 23. Three of the deaths mentioned in the newspaper occurred in another county so I did not count them in the total. You may notice that the date of death in the newspaper does not always agree with the one on the death certificate. My guess is that the newspaper is probably more accurate than the death certificate because that information was often provided in a more timely fashion than many of the death certificates.

Except for a brief period in the mid 1800s, the state of Kentucky did not require birth and death certificates to be filed until 1911. Although there were some locations in the state which did file them earlier, Laurel County was not one of them. In 1918 filing certificates was still a new practice. Most babies were born at home and the ill were also cared for at home. Thus many births and deaths went unrecorded. Many of the certificates at which I looked were delayed which means they were recorded weeks, months or even years after the death. Obviously during the pandemic the doctors did not always take the time to complete the paperwork although they may have kept notes.

In the following article you might note there were three doctors who were ill with the flu and one who was weary from exhaustion. I have provided additional notes in brackets.

The London Sentinel, October 24, 1918, front page


Abetting in Army Camps, but Is Still Increasing in Many Sections

Seventeen is the reported toll that influenza has taken from Laurel county the past week, and many new cases are reported also. The dead are:

Evan Oakley, London, Thursday. [October 17]

Pete Dillard, East Bernstadt, Tuesday.

Tolly Grant, East Bernstadt, Monday. [October 21]

Homer Ward, East Bernstadt, Sunday night. [October 20]

A young lady named Miller is reported to us as having died, but we have been unable to learn more about it. [Polly Miller, age 9, died October 17]

Farris Philpot, 16 year old son of Robert Philpot, formerly policeman here, died at Irvine and his body was brought here for burial Monday by his father and brother for burial in Pine Grove Cemetery.

Johnnie Carr, color, son of Dave Carr, Saturday. [October 19]

Mrs. Joe Sparks, Laurel Chapel neighborhood, Friday.[Lue Sparks, October 18, a miscarriage was also listed as contributing to her death.]

Guy Jones, East Bernstadt.

Mrs. Effie Herron, wife of Esker Herron, died in Louisville, and her body brought to the Colony for burial.

William Miller, Viva, Wednesday. [October 22]

Jack Harrison, East Bernstadt, Monday. Mr. Harrison’s wife died the Wednesday previous, as reported last week. [October 22]

Ed Byrley, Pittsburg, Monday.

Leonard Allen, Liberty, Tuesday. [October 22]

Mattie Lee, East Bernstadt, Monday. [October 21; pneumonia was the only cause of death listed.]

James Hamilton died in Covington, and body brought home for burial. Mrs. Hamilton, a daughter of Simp Stanifer, was also ill at Covington, but had sufficiently recovered to return home Wednesday.

Thos. Bowyer, of East Bernstadt, died Wednesday night of this week. We understand that he also had typhoid.

Of the pneumonia cases in London, Mrs. J. T. Johnson, Jr. who became ill this week, is the most serious and is in a critical condition. John D. Smith continues very low. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hicks are recovering. Miss Patsy Randall and Morgan Woodward, who developed pneumonia since our last issue, are doing nicely. D. M. Humble received a message Wednesday that his son-in-law, Preston Handley, of Junction City was very low. Frank Johnson is so ill at East Bernstadt that hopes of his recovery have been abandoned.

Among the sick Dr. G. S. Brock is confined with the flu this week. Drs. J. I. Smith and O. D. Brock, the latter’s being a mild attack, had previously been confined but are now out again. Dr. H. V. Pennington is ill from the constant going that the situation has demanded, but was still answering calls Wednesday evening. Dr. Crook has moved from Lida to London to be more centrally located, and Dr. T. P. Coldwell, who has been retired the past ten years, has again taken up practice and is doing valiant services.

Throughout the country as a whole the situation is much improved, especially in the army camps. In Camp Taylor at Louisville, the deaths for Wednesday fell to only eight, and only a few new cases. The total number of deaths in Camp Taylor to date have been 727. In all the army camps in this country the deaths for the day were 392 and to date 15,497 deaths. In all the camps 292,770 cases have been reported. However, in only five of the camps is the disease now considered in the epidemic form.

In the cities and larger towns in Kentucky, the disease is well under control; but in the rural districts and especially in the coal fields of both Eastern and Western Kentucky the situation is described as being desperate and the death rate alarming. The Red Cross is sending doctors and nurses into the more sorely afflicted districts.

[The following people were not mentioned in the newspaper but they had influenza listed as a cause of death on their death certificates: John Jones, age 1; Alice Pearl Jones, age 13; Rebecca Ledington Rush, age 26; Bab Barnes, age 38; Leno Hanks ( a girl), age 7 months; Lottie Hubbard, age 7, Grace Milburn, age 17; Jesse Milburn, age 15. These children did not have influenza listed as a cause of death but since pneumonia was listed there is a possibility that the pneumonia was caused by the flu: Fanny M. Speak, age 2; Roleigh Brock Parker, age 1; William D. Miller, age 2. He is not the William Miller listed in the newspaper. That one was a 38 year old male. I do not know if any of the three Millers were related. They had different parents. Grace and Jesse Milburn were siblings.]

Due to COVID-19 our library will be closed as long as the Healthy at Home is being practiced. We will re-evaluate the situation when the ban on public gatherings is lifted. You may still contact us through e-mail at The first letter is a lower case l as in Laurel. You may also call the Laurel County Historical Society at 606-864-0607 and leave a message. We plan to periodically check messages and hopefully respond to them in a timely fashion.

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