More than 2,000 cases of Spanish flu, 80 deaths, seen in Traill County in 1918

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Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020 6:00 am

The pandemic claimed the life of Joseph Matchke, a 21-year-old Hillsboro High School alum and a member of the fraternal Ancient Order of United Workmen.

Matchke died shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 1918 from pneumonia caused by a deadly form of influenza dubbed “Spanish flu.”

The illness took the life of Willie Monson, 18, who lived east of Cummings in Bingham Township, less than a half-hour later.

Monson had been sick for a week and had shown signs of recovery before taking a sudden change for the worse, the Hillsboro Banner reported in its Nov. 15, 1918 issue.

“Bingham township apparently is in the grip of the influenza epidemic and at this writing it has invaded about a dozen different homes,” according to a report by the Banner’s Bingham Township correspondent.

The coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the nation isn’t unprecedented in U.S. history.

A similar deadly outbreak caused by the Spanish flu hit America in fall 1918, temporarily shuttering local schools and churches and barring city council meetings and funerals.

COVID-19 had infected more than 960,000 people across the globe through Thursday morning. More than 49,000 had died from the illness, which originated in China late last year.

By comparison, the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918-19 was blamed in the deaths of more than 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States.

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