Clella B. Gregory

Pandemic Influenza Storybook

Storyteller: Clella B. Gregory

Location: Kentucky

Man milking a cow

In 1918, I lived at home with my parents Eli and Nora Brantley and five of my siblings in Blackford, Kentucky. My brothers, Claude (age 23) and Floy (age 20) had already left home. My brother Genie died at 8 years old in 1908, Olpha Otis died at 4 months old in 1913, and baby Helen wasn′t born until 1924.

All six of us children at home (Archie, 15 years; Bert, 13 years; Herb, 10 years; Ina Pearl, 9 years; Ruby, 7 years; and Clella, 2 years) had the 1918 pandemic flu, as did our mother, Nora (age 40). My father, Eli (age 43), did not become ill. Dad kept us warm and fed and he also helped others in our community who had the illness. He made sure our sick neighbors had drinking water, would milk their cows, fed their livestock, and made sure they had coal and wood for heat.

One day, one of the doctors from Blackford came by and stopped and asked, “Eli, how is your family doing?” Dad said, “All are doing very well.” The doctor replied, “Keep doing what you are doing for where I′m going, they are going to lose a girl.”

All the schools were closed, church services were cancelled, and crowds were not supposed to gather.

We all survived.