EATON — The Preble County Room, curator of local historical documents and publications, recently added a compilation of documents on the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic to its collection. Titled “Deadly Virus: The Worst Plague in American History,” it follows the effects of the illness on the Preble County area and supplements that with information on the worldwide information on the response to the pandemic that killed between 30 and 50 million people worldwide.
The year 1918 saw the end of World War I and the dedication of the newly-constructed Preble County Courthouse, but it also saw the beginning of one of the worst pandemics in human history. Preble County was not immune to the pandemic, which claimed the lives of many locals.
The newest collection at the Preble County Room includes a plethora of information on the pandemic, both local information and worldwide. The local information features many local news stories published in the Twin Valley Echo, Preble County News, and The Register-Herald through late 1918 and 1919.
One article from the Feb. 13, 1919 edition of Preble County News also described a strange side effect of the influenza:
“A large number of those afflicted have lost their hair. The hair does not come out gradually, as in cases of typhoid fever, but all at once, leaving the person bald.”
Also included in the compilation are obituaries of Preble County flu victims taken from the Lewisburg Leader at the time. The book also has information about the worldwide effects of the pandemic, personal stories from survivors, family, and friends, and internet and printed resources for information on the 1918 pandemic.
The book, compiled by Skip Rhoades, is available at the Preble County Room at 450 S. Barron St. in Eaton.