Not all deaths were a direct result of the flu

45 year old Henry Wright Dunn, far left in the photo below (in his store), was a very successful businessman in Evergreen, Alabama in 1918. He was a hardware store owner, a Ford and Buick car dealer, incorporator of the local bank, and a landowner with significant holdings. According to his great-grandson, “if you needed anything in Conecuh County from a washer to a coffin, you did business with Henry Wright Dunn.”

Dunn Hardware ca 1918

He was able to provide a comfortable life for his family. When he saw that the flu was spreading westward, he had the means to be prepared before it hit and hire a nurse to care for his family if the flu hit. On the appointed day he crossed the railroad tracks and drove up the hill to fetch the nurse and bring her home to his family. Alas, as he was going up the hill his car stalled. He was unable to restart it and rolled back down the hill into the path of an oncoming train. He lingered for 2 days with terrible injuries before succumbing to death. Below is a photo of the wreck.

Dunn, Henry Wrights Wreck 1918

His great grandson writes, “Henry Wright Dunn, age 45, (1873-1918) fell victim of the great plague; not by becoming infected himself, but, out of concern for his family, drove out of town at the wrong time. ”

Credit for story and photos go to Dave Robison. See more at Dave’s blog.

 

2 thoughts on “Not all deaths were a direct result of the flu

  1. The most striking results in the table are those which indicate the direct and associated deaths from the epidemic. The two and a half fold risk of neonatal death from the residual group (in which influenza deaths were placed) associated with birth in the third wave of the epidemic suggests that very new babies may have succumbed directly to the disease itself. Inspection of the records suggests that in a large number of these cases the mother was also afflicted. There was an almost identical risk of dying from pneumonia, an associated cause. Even though influenza was not implicated in these deaths, it is very likely that the underlying cause was indeed the ‘flu and that poor certification and recording were responsible for underestimation of the effect of influenza.

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