Newspaper Archive of
Walsh County Press
Park River , North Dakota
January 11, 2012     Walsh County Press
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January 11, 2012

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EIE mlLIlIBtlIIIBmKIEIEmLIIIIIIII . BIIIIIIBKIIKHBJ IIiiiiiiiEm illE UUIMElll PAGE 8 THE PRESS ,JANUARY 11,201Z By David Larson for The Press PARK RIVER, N.D. ---On October 17th the Herald printed al- most nothing but war news and na- tional politics, the kind of news that in later years a paper would reprint from the wire services. The next week a possible explanation for the coyness emerged in the locals; their typesetter had been out sick (with an unspecified disease. No doubt the town's citizens were able to fill in the blank.). On the 18th the Gazette began to inch toward pub- lic admission of the epidemic. A short article in "The City" column noted that the disease had spread thi'oughout the West, including al- most all towns in North Dakota. "The plague" seemed to be of the light form. It added, attempting to reassure local citizens, that very few deaths had occurred among the civilian population. The Graflon News and Times played a similar game: it deflected its local citizens' t ars by reporting on how seriously nearby Forest River had been hit. It only hinted about Grafton itself: several people were "attending to others with serious illnesses." For almost a month the county newspapers stuck to this policy of denial. By the end of October the flu had become epidemic, and the newspapers' policy could not be sustained; the ostrich collapsed and died as rapidly as the flu itself struck and killed. On the 24th and 25th the town papers finally talked about the situation. The Herald, a paragon of circmnlocution to this point, stated: "Almost every family in the city has been more or less af- fected with the influenza epidemic, though the form of the disease has been a mild one. So far only one case of pneumonia has developed." The Gazette began to report cases from nearby towns, and actively recruited correspondents from the central and western portions of the county. Seven locations first re- November arrived, and the epidemic intensified, contrary to the predictions of the Grafton paper. Surely there were many desperate situations in the area, but none was so nearly comic as an incident in Grand Forks. Rumor mills churn overtime in days of des- peration, and in Grand Forks, word somehow got round that the County Auditor was hold- ing large stores of liquor confiscated from local blind pigs. What better way to fend off influenza than medicinal Bourbon? Masses of citizens applied to the office for whiskey, so many that the Auditor had to advertise in the local papers that he had none in his possession. " ported, from Edinburg, Medford, ported two deaths and scores ofaf- Lyric in mid-November. Parkthem in his new electrically driven Ops, and other townships. The ed- fected people. Its regular columns Riverites "Sundayed" in Graffon. washer. itor even printed "Uncle Sam's noted several deaths west of The local school reopened on the And of course some people who Advice on the Flu." "Uncle Sam" Fordville, and the illness of Dave 1 l th, even though three teachers try to help by coming up with frankly described the symptoms of Johnson, the local undertaker. The were still ill with the flu. And then "cures." A late November ad for the illness,, acknowledged that Grafton News and Times an- came the news of the Armistice. "Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Dis- some victims develop pneumonia, nounced (toward the bottom of the Epidemic or not, irrespressible pub- covery" showed people what they admitted that many of those die, ninth page of a ten-page issue)that: lie exhibitions of joy erupted in needed, a "good liver regulator to and urged the readers to drink milk. Although the doctors still report Park River and all the surrounding regulate the bowels." Dr. Pierce's One might conjure a picture of new cases we feel confident that towns. But the epidemic had its product supposedly carried away Park River at this time: people of the Influenza epidemic which has way; before the end of November the poisons that accumulate in the all ages cowering in their houses, taken such a heavy toll of lives the theater was closed and the blood, and warded off attacks from waiting for the onset of plague and from and about our community the schools were closed. The down- the influenza bacillus. Just how perhaps quivering in anticipation past weeks, is gradually abating, town businesses were open but effective Mr. Fee's stew was, or of a visit fromDeath's angel. One suspects that the Park nearly empty. Dr. Pierce's liver regulator, will But the facts have a way of con- River's hopes in late October par- Times like these, the worst of never be determined. tradicting what we "know" must alleledGrafton's, times, might cause panic and de- The best summary of the late have happened. As the plague grew November arrived, and the epi- spair, but they also bring out the November situation is "disastrous". in intensity Attorney Smith-Peter- demic intensified, contrary to the best in people. A travelling sales The same issue that mentioned Dr. son "autoed" to Devils Lake on a predictions of the Grafton paper, representative walked into the Park Pierce's miracle cure also men- business trip. The land next to the Surely there were many desperate River Herald looking for business, tioned by name four families who County School was plowed in situations in the area, but none was When he found out that the type- were suffering from the flu, and preparation for 1919's crops. Four so nearly comic as an incident in setter was down with the flu, he added there were numerous cases young men from Park River drove Grand Forks. Rumor mills chum took off his coat, draped it over a all about the city. The issue seems over to Grafton in the last week of overtime in days of desperation, chair, rolled up his sleeves, and to represent a temporary break in October. The determination to and in Grand Forks, word some- helped the newspaper meet its the "let's not talk about it" mental- maintain "regular" patterns of life how got round that the County Au- deadline. Dr. Charles Fee, then a ity of the newspaper. Seven county continued. The local school super- ditor was holding large stores of young boy living down the street correspondents to the Gazette re- intendents stated that schools liquor confiscated from local blind from the Baptist Church, witnessed ported four deaths. The next week would probably Open on Monday, pigs. What better way to fend off the results from the protective iso- there were six reports, which men- the 4th of November, if no more influenza than medicinal Bourbon? lation of his back bedroom. He. tioned only two deaths. In the next cases of the flu arose. The Lyric Masses of citizens applied to the of- saw several bodies removed from issue ten correspondents reported scheduled a showing of"Less than rice for whiskey, so many that the nearby houses. Undertaker Dave yet another pair of deaths. All pub- Dust," starring Mary Pickford. Auditor had to advertise in the lo- Johnson did not prepare thelic gatherings in town were banned This optimism was counter- cal papers that he had none in his corpses, though; Johnson was still until the end of the year, including pointed by the death of Col. E. possession, ill with the flu in the house next churches, cinema, and schools,. Smith-Peterson, local attorney, At the same time as the epi- door. Everybody in Fee's house, Physicians were driving to treat pa- chairman of the board of the demic was reaching its peak, pub- and nearly everybody on the block, tients day and night. The Gazette's County School. He fell ill later in lic life tried to reassert itself. A was down with the disease--with final issue in November mentions the month with what was first di- week before the regular elections of the exception of Fee's father. In the more four local families by name, agnosed as typhoid; befbre the end 1918 occurred, S.J. Doyle, the mornings the elder Fee would pre- a total of l4 persons, and"numer- of October he was dead from in- Democratic candidate for gover- pare a large boiler tub of stew and ous other cases throughout the fluenza. By now the Gazette had nor, addressed a crowd of about take it around to the neighbors, and city." ten county correspondents, who re- 50. Mary Pickford played at the bring home their sheets to wash And yet here, as the epidemic ]P',m t ][][i < intensified, the mood was not tota~ panic and fear. The society page still mentions pleasant visits. Pub; lic gatherings were prohibited, bu/ they occurred anyways. A Gazette reporter noted that with school out; the river was the most popula place in town. The water level wag high when the river froze so therd was smooth ice for great distance up- and downstream. Perhaps the thinking was that enclosed publiq spaces were the only place where person could catch the disease. : In early December the diseas~ struck with full fury. Twelve cor-: respondents around the county nov~ reported to the Gazette. There had been only three deaths in Minto~ but the editor of the Journal stated that the Spanish Influenza had spread so rapidly in his town that would be about as easy to record the families that were free from fliction as it would to list those fam- ilies in which the disease is present: Frank Lord a city banker, and William Cost, auto liveryman, died;o" Two more people in Minto another in Grafton, another ire Lampton Township. Ten coun correspondents reported in mid- month the deaths of eight mor people. But by mid-month optimisri was reviving again. On the 20tl the Gazette noted that the school planned to reopen on January 6 beZ cause the epidemic seemed to b6 abating. Then the school boar6 moved the reopening up to DeS cember 31, promptly at 8:20. Th~ schoolchildren had already miss~ nine weeks of classes. Certain pro-: cautions were to be upheld: no stu- dent would be admitted if there influenza anywhere in the family,: and if a student started coughing,: he or she was to be instantly dis:: missed. Meanwhile around thv county the reports kept coming ini eight correspondents reported nin deaths, including five in Mintc alone. in more at I DESIGN. QUALITY. VALUE .3Mil North of Hansboro Port of Entry 54' x 32' 1610 SO: FT. ~2'~" x W~" Zt]ZZg~ZZL.dl~ I0'0" x I~0" 1(0" x 17"~" 12~' X 11'6" II It Call or emafl today for a free brochure! brad @ . Ph: 1.866.672.3376 Fax: 1.204.529.2044 1 ~cco Prevention and Contro health unit.