The flu went everywhere

I started my research thinking I did not have any stories about the 1918 flu in my family. I asked my mom and dad and they didn’t know of any stories. In fact, when I asked my mom if the flu ever came to her small hometown of Virden, New Mexico, she commented that Virden was too small and isolated to have come into contact with the flu.

Virden is a farming community, with farms spread throughout the Virden Valley. While the town of Virden is about 5 blocks by 5 blocks, the households on the farms are considered a part of Virden. The 1920 census records 500 people in the Virden community

Out of curiosity, I leafed through the book The Legacy of Virden and found this reference: “Mamie was known as the ‘Angel of Mercy’ for her service during the flu epidemic of 1918. She ranged far and wide in the valley providing both love and nursing. Mamie provided care for everyone in the valley including the Mexican community.”

So, the flu did come to Virden, and it seems that it was fairly heavily hit, as Mamie traveled the valley to care for the sick.

Like Virden, very few places in the world were safe from the pandemic. Quarantines may have delayed the entry of the flu into Australia, but it came in 1919. Isolated villages in Alaska were hard hit. Some of the Samoan islands were the few places in the world that escaped the pandemic.


The Legacy of Virden by Grover Johnson, p 61

1920 census for Virden, Hidalgo, New Mexico (viewed via Family Search)

Photo Credit: Photos taken on Jones Farm in the Virden Valley, Fall 2018, by Annie Jones

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