Spanish Flu Pandemic Swept Through Madison, Shut Down City For Weeks
Fall 1918 – Madison, WI
24 Madisonians died in September
Oct. 10: There were more than 300 sick among the Student Army Training Corps encamped at the
UW and seven citizens lay dead. The Madison Board of Health met and
ordered all theaters, moving picture houses, schools, churches and other places of public
gathering closed for an indefinite period.
Oct. 11: It was believed that the flu was caused by infectious dust swirling through the
air so seven street-flushing wagons were watering the streets. The
Madison High School football team canceled its game with
Rockford. Thirty-two of the city's 221 teachers were reported ill. Two streets, Mendota Court &
Irving Court, were closed because of the high number of cases. Both
Madison General and
St. Mary's Hospitals were filled to capacity.
Oct. 12: Four victims. Three of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Herman's seven children have died since Tuesday.
Oct. 14: Death toll 11. A Catholic priest, a businessman, a minister and a doctor are among those taken.
Oct. 15: Three UW men died. There are between 3,000 and 4,000 cases in the city, and 685 at the UW.
Oct. 17: Seven more dead. Plans were made to turn
Christ Presbyterian into an emergency hospital.
Oct. 22: 11 more dead, including Sister Mary Fortunata of St. Marys Hospital.
Oct. 28: 13 more deaths, assistant postmaster Ingwald Nelson, who died a day after his 7-year-old son
Oct 29: five deaths, including Louise Vale, a former actress and wife of New York millionaire Travers Vale.
50 Madisonians died in October
Nov. 2: UW Homecoming was called off.
Nov. 9: The
Capital Times carried an announcement that schools
would reopen on Monday, Nov. 11. However, that morning whistles sounded at 2:40 a.m., announcing
the Armistice and the end of World War I. The city's streets, which had been nearly abandoned for
a month or more, immediately filled with people caught up in a massive celebration.
(It is estimated that between 20 million and 25 million people worldwide died from the flu in
1918-1919, compared to 10 million deaths attributable to WWI.)