By Joseph D. Parriott.


Nurses Spanish Flu

     The great influenza epidemic of 1918 is said to have killed 500,000 people in the United States, and 20 million worldwide. It has recently been determined that the epidemic was caused by a variation of the same virus that is now spreading from Asia to Europe and Africa by migrating birds.

     The epidemic came to Marshall County in mid-October 1918, and by early December, two Moundsville morticians reported that they had burials for 59 persons who had died from the disease. This 59 does not include burials by morticians who served Cameron, McMechen, Benwood, and the northern rural areas of the county. The author reviewed 40 obituaries and concluded that about 75% of the victims were under 30 years old, and almost all of the deaths were among those under 40.

     Entire families could be stricken, with no one available to provide food, medicine, or nurse the sick. On November 15th, the Ministerial Association called a meeting, and it was decided to turn the Parish House (a large 4 story building next to the Episcopal Church, on Tenth Street in Moundsville), into a temporary hospital. The next day, Reynolds Hospital was dedicated to provide nursing care. By November 18th, 1500 flu cases had been reported in the county, and the actual number was probably far higher.

     Reynolds Hospital made a public appeal on November 22nd for any able-bodied women to help in the Hospital. An insufficent number volunteered, so female inmates of the prison were employed. Seven overworked members of Reynolds nursing staff were hospitalized with the highly infectious disease, and three of them died November 27th, while a fourth on died on November 30th.

     These nurses who died were: Audree Loudin, 19, native of Buckhannon, Cleo Hewitt, 18, of Dallas, Elizabeth Jennings, 22, of Lumberport, and Lillian Wright, 2?, of Warwood. (Reynolds School of Nursing attracted students from afar.)

     Heroism should certainly include those who serve their fellowman in the face of a silent killer. Shouldn't those who worked at Reynolds during the flu epidemic, and especially the four young women who died, be remembered for their heroism?

     Information for this article was obtained from the Moundsville Echo and Moundsville Journal, below.

"Moundsville Journal" - 29 Nov 1918

     Miss Cleo Hewitt, of Dallas, died at the Glendale hospital Wednesdday afternoon at 2:00 o'clock after a weeks illness of influenza and pneumonia. Miss Hewitt had entered the hospital about three months ago to study to be a nurse, and had been helping to take care of influenza patients when taken down with the same disease. The deceased was born at Dallas, W. Va. eighteen years ago, and is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Hewitt, of that place. Besides her parents she is survived by one sister and two brothers. Remains were taken to the home of her grandfather, William Parson, on Center street, where the funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock conducted by Rev. Hart pastor of the Calvary M. E. church. Internment will be made in Green Lawn cemetery.

Unknown Moundsville Newspaper - 29 Nov 1918

     Miss Cleo Hewitt, of this city, died at the Glendale Hospital on Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock. Death was caused by influenza and pneumonia. Miss Hewitt is survived by her mother, her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Wiley Parsons, of Center street, besides a host of relatives and friends.
     She entered the Reynolds Memorial Hospital about three months ago for training as a nurse, for which profession she seemed to be eminently fitted.
     She was taken ill a little over a week ago with influenza, which finally developed into pneumonia, her death following.
     Miss Hewitt was a member of Calvary M.E. church, and of the Willing Girls Bible Class. The funeral will be held on Sunday afternoon.

Unknown Moundsville Newspaper - 2 Dec 1918

     Mr. R. C. Loudin last night received a telegram announcing the death of Miss Gladys Loudin at Weston. The deceased was a sister to Miss Audree Loudin, one of the nurses who died in the Glendale hospital a few days ago. She was the oldest girl in the family, and was a cousin of Dr. Loudin of this city.

"Moundsville Weekly Echo" - 6 Dec 1918

     Mr. E. E. Loudin, who came here from Upshur county last week when his daughter, Audrey Loudin, a nurse in the Glendale Hospital, took sick and later died, yesterday morning received a telegram from Weston stating that his eldest daughter Gladys Loudin, had died there early in the morning. This makes two of his daughters who have died in five days.

"Moundsville Journal" - 29 Nov 1918

     Miss Elizabeth Jennings, age 22 years, a nurse at Glendale hospital passed away at that institution Wednesday evening at 7:00 o'clock, of influenza and pneumonia. The remains were taken to the Grisell undertaking parlors and prepared for shipment to her old home at Lumberport, where funeral services will beheld and interment. The deceased is survived by one sister.

"Moundsville Weekly Echo" - 6 Dec 1918

     Miss Jennings, a nurse, died at the Glendale hospital Thursday evening at 6 o'clock.
     Miss Jennings took sick with influenza several days ago and grew worse until the end came last evening. She was 22 years of age and was in her second year of training, The body will be taken to her home at Lumberport for interment. The party will leave on the 7:19 train Saturday morning for that place.
     This is the third nurse that has died at the hospital this week of influenza. They paid the supreme sacrifice while caring for the sick of the community. Each girl worked as long as she could be on her feet, regardless of her own feelings.
     Miss Wright, another nurse, is not expected to survive the day, of influenza.

Unknown Moundsville Newspaper - Unknown Date

     Miss Lillian Wright, a nurse at the Glendale Hospital, died in that institution on Saturday evening at 8 o'clock. Death was caused by influenza and pneumonia. Miss Wright is the fourth nurse to die in the hospital since the present epidemic has caused such a large number of the influenza patients to be taken there.
     Miss Wright was in the 21st year of her age and is survived by her parents. They reside in Warwood. Service over her remains were held at the late home this afternoon, with interment in Greenwood cemetery, Wheeling.

"Moundsville Weekly Echo" - 29 Nov 1918

     The help conditions at the Glendale hospital have become critical. This is owing to several of the regular nurses being sick and the large number of patients in the hospital to care for.
     A number of nurses have volunteered their services and have been working on both day and night turn. But the shortage of help is not only in caring for the patients. There has been urgent need of help in the heavy domestic work. The state prison came to the relief and some of the women inmates have been assisting in this work. They ae under the supervision of Miss Ernst, who has charge of the women in the prison.
     Many expressions of commendation of Warder Terrell's action in helping the community in its affliction have been heard.


     Mrs. S. W. Booher spent the entire forenoon today out in the city, making an effort to get volunteer nurses to assist in caring for the influenza cases in this city.
     There is still an urgent call for nurses both at the hospital and in private homes. Mrs. Booher is finding it difficult to find people who will or can volunteer their services. A number have already volunteered their services and are at work in the hospital. The names of three more persons have been added to the list. They are, James Byrnes, Miss Gladys Hunter and Mrs. Busam. Mr. Byrnes is doing night work and Miss Hunter is assisting in the office.

Unknown Moundsville Newspaper - 2 Dec 1918

     The influenza situation so far as the development of the new cases is concerned seems to have reached a level. Eleven new cases were reported on Saturday and twelve Sunday indicating a condition that is little changed either for better or worse.
     It is the opinion of physicians generally, however, that the situation is slowly improving.

These four names are not in the list of all nurses licensed in WV 1907-1935; all must have been student nurses.