Spokane and the Nation: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919

Headline: “Find Family Ill, No Food or Fuel”

Source: Spokesman-Review, January 9, 1919, page 7

Subject: Spokane family ill

Synopsis: In Spokane authorities found an entire family that had been stricken with influenza. The Butcher family cottage only had one bed, which was occupied by the father. They had no heat, and none of them had eaten for a while.

Notable Quotations:

• “‘There was only one bed, in which Butcher, so ill and weak that he could not raise his head, was lying, and the others were on pallets on the floor and cots made of chairs.’”

• “‘They are all in pitiable condition and it would not surprise me if they did not recover.’”

“Find Family Ill, No Food or Fuel”

John Butcher, Wife and Three Children Down with Influenza.

Only One Bed in House

Removed to Hospital–Officials Fear Some Victims will Die.

           In a barely furnished cottage at W417 Knox avenue, with no fuel or food in the place, Dr. V.V. Bacon of the city health department and Emergency Officers Phelan and Fitzharris last night discovered John Butcher, his wife and three children, two boys, age 5 and 7, and a girl, age 9, helplessly ill with influenza.  They were removed in the police patrol to the influenza hospital and their plight will be reported today to the social service bureau.

           “The place was as cold as a barn and the only heat and light came from a small oil lamp,” said Officer Phelan.  “There was only one bed, in which Butcher, so ill and weak that he could not raise his head, was lying, and the others were on pallets on the floor and cots made of chairs.

           “Mrs. Butcher and the children have been ill several days and Mr. Butcher had been caring for them as best he could until he was stricken last Saturday and compelled to go to bed Monday.  They were so weak from illness and hunger we could not get any coherent statement from them, but it was evident that none of them had eaten for many hours.  They are all in pitiable condition and it would not surprise me if they did not recover.

           “The family were warmly clad and they had plenty of blankets and other bedding.  The house was wonderfully clean and neat, considering the circumstances.  They had but recently come to Spokane and Butcher has been out of work for some time, we learned.”