Many families lost more than one member during the epidemicMay 13, 2020
As of press time and after extensive research of newspaper articles, cemetery records, Family Search, Ancestry and Lehi resident Andrew Fjeld’s daily journals, it appears between Oct. 3, 1918, and Jan. 15, 1919, Lehi lost at least 37 people to influenza, although not all found in research were living in Lehi at the time. However, all were buried in Lehi.
For perspective, of the approximately 3,000 people living in Lehi, only 26 people total died in 1915.
Among the many deaths suffered in Lehi during the epidemic of 1918, research shows the following families lost more than one member:
- The Turner family lost a father and teenage son.
- The Goates family lost a son, three grandchildren and a daughter-in-law.
- The Bones lost a 27-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl.
- The Powells lost two sisters and a 25-year-old man.
- The Schows lost two men and a baby.
- The Ashers lost a mother and 18-year-old son.
- The Brems lost a 43-year-old man and a 13-year-old daughter.
- The Evans/Zimmerman families lost cousins, Vervene Evans, 24, and Zeltha Zimmerman, 19.
In the spring of 1919, the influenza waned and never regained its former strength. However, the American Fork Citizen reported on Feb. 14, 1920, that three young Lehi fathers had succumbed to influenza, and on Feb. 20, the Salt Lake Herald-Republican reported there had been 63 influenza cases in Lehi, “… most of them in comparatively light form….” There were a “few less cases than last year with only a small percentage of the number of fatalities that occurred in 1918-19.” So the dreaded disease continued to torment Lehi until it petered out worldwide in the summer of 1920.
When talking numbers, it is interesting to note that on Oct. 22, 1918, an Ogden city board of health commissioner noted that everything was being reported as influenza. “Local doctors have reported all cases of colds, bad colds, grippe as well as influenza and this number includes a great number of people who are recovered and going about their daily duty in good health,” wrote the Ogden Daily Examiner.
There were 44,900 cases of influenza reported in Utah in 1918 and 2,282 deaths, according to the Spring 1995 Utah State Historical Quarterly.
If you would like to share your ancestor’s story or make sure your ancestor is listed among those who died during the epidemic in Lehi, please contact The Lehi Historical Society and Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-318-2788.
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