CRAIGMONT — "It Came Without Warning" is the title of a new book researched and compiled by the Ilo-Vollmer Historical Society in Craigmont. It details the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic and how it touched the lives of those in Lewis County, Idaho, resulting in 65 flu deaths in six months.
This book was undertaken as a 100-year remembrance of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which is said to have killed more people in the United States than died fighting during World War I. It left a giant footprint in Lewis County, with Nezperce having the highest death toll followed by the Ilo and Vollmer areas.
Using newspaper accounts, death certificates, and documented recollections, the book follows the virus through the months of October 1918 until the end of March 1919, as it sickened a rural population caught unaware with no good means to fight it.
Records indicate that people didn’t necessarily die from influenza but rather from the pneumonia which followed. It was mostly the young, healthy adults who contracted the flu, possibly because they had jobs, chores, or family obligations that kept them from heeding the advice of the medical profession to “go to bed and stay there.”
The members of the historical society have compiled information that provides some answers to those questions.