Influenza 1918

This picture was taken in 1918 of the State Guard unit which, at the time had their tents set up at the Cable Hospital grounds. (Cable Hospital closed in 1979 and is now a housing complex called Cable Gardens, intersection of Essex Road and Bay Road.

The following story was adapted by the late Susan Howard Boice  from the Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society.

Influenza made its appearance in Ipswich in September of 1918. The disease spread rapidly in the thickly populated areas of town, chiefly among the foreign born. The Board of Health ordered the closing of all schools, churches, opera houses, clubs, bowling alleys, billiard saloons, coffee houses and all places of amusement. The public library was also ordered to close its doors –  for the disease had struck! The town was worried, for no one knew if they would come down with this terrible disease.

On Oct. 11, 1918, 470 of the mill workers were sick, and only 30 employees came to work at Burke’s Manufacturing Company. On Sunday, Oct. 6, the Cable Hospital had more than 30 patients suffering from pneumonia, which followed the influenza. The state authorities took over the hospital that Oct. 6, and erected 50 tents, each large enough for two patients. The 15th Infantry was put to the task. They worked hard all day pitching the tents, installing electric wires and establishing their own camp. The local carpenters were requisitioned and lumber was brought in from Canney’s lumber yard.

By Monday, a structure 180 feet long, well-built and conveniently arranged, was completed along with an administration building. A military guard was established and admission was allowed only to those who held passes from headquarters. The fresh-air treatment in the tents and in the open air was beneficial to the patients. The severest pneumonia cases showed improvement and there were fewer deaths.

It was estimated that there were at least 1,500 cases of the flu in Ipswich during the height of this disease. Finally in the middle of October, the Board of Health lifted its ban and the schools opened later in the month.

The hospital camp was referred to as Camp Mason, courtesy of Herbert W. Mason, president of the Benjamin Stickney Cable Corp., and was discontinued on Oct. 18, 1918. The schools opened on October 21.

Timeline from the Ipswich Chronicle, provided by Bruce Laing

August 27, 1918: the first case in Massachusetts is reported. Three days later, 60 people are ill.
September 20: At Cable Memorial Hospital, visitors are not admitted until further notice.

September 27: Mrs. Calvin Holmes, 21 year-old, dies of the Influenza.

September 29: “In this eventful week, estimates are more than 700 cases in Ipswich, and all public resorts are closed by the authorities. The Ipswich Mills are short-handed due to absenteeism. The public schools are closed down. Miss Maude Schofield is home from her teaching assignment since the Brookline Schools are closed as well. Mrs. Reuben Andrews of Liberty Street, 48 years of age, related to the Hills family, dies of pneumonia and her funeral is served by the same Reverend William J. Kelly who served Mrs. Calvin Holmes. Walter Dodge of East Street, merchant marine on the steamship Gavin Austin, is confined in his home. Julian Smith of Meeting House Green has it too. Miss Louise Grant of Water Street has it but is improving. James J. Merrill of High Street is not improving. Dr. McGinley of Central Street, has the disease.

The flu is rampant; three Influenza deaths have been confirmed, then Albin Benedix of Manning Street dies, that makes four and counting. Churches, fraternities, and other gatherings are discontinued by the Board of Health.”

October 1: The National Guard sets up at Cable Hospital.

October 4: Martha Stewart of the Coburn Home has volunteered to supervise volunteer school teachers who will act as nurses. From Saltonstall Street to Steep Bank, the Polish section of town, the Influenza is now rampant, as it has been in the Greek section of town. Most area residents are non-English speakers. At least two Polish immigrants and two Greek immigrants die this week. Doctors and druggists are working 24 hour days. Mrs. George A. Schofield returns home after several weeks at Cable. But all is not well. Five year-old Mary Rose Gallant, a French girl of Mt. Pleasant Street succumbs, as does five year-old Frank Comeau, Jr. of North Main Street. Harry E. Ward, also of North Main Street, dies at 31 years of age. Mrs. Helen Byron of County Street is confined. Charles S. Garette of Fruit Street has taken ill. All the Churches decide to cancel Sunday services. The town Library is asked to close. Reverend Guy E. Margeson of the Immanuel Bapist Church is taken ill to Cable. This week, there were 470 workers absent from the Ipswich Mills.

October 11: Lodges, clubs, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, pool halls, coffee rooms, and soda fountains are shut down. Right here in RiverCity. Funerals must be private, for family members only, and in many areas they are restricted to 15 minutes duration. A news writer prescribes that treatment outdoors is much preferred, ergo the tents at Cable. Volunteers are knitting blue wool sweaters and now there is a call for gray outing flannel ‘Johnnies’ . Thirty patients are at the hospital with pneumonia, where, and from which, the young French girl had died. Good news: Mrs. William Garrette of South Main Street is much improved, as is Dorothy Hall of Market Street. Mrs. Kyes of 26 High Street is coordinating an effort to make 100 comforters for the Red Cross.

On the other hand, while Mrs. Helen Byron has improved, the clerks in her store have caught the flu: Miss Bertha Duguay of Topsfield Road and Miss Rosa Marcourelle of Mt. Pleasant Avenue. Miss Annie Arkin of Mt. Pleasant Street has died. Miss Margaret Player, 12 years old of High Street, has been taken to Hospital as has Miss Laura Chaput. The former Principal of the Junior High School, Ralph W. Wescott, is critically ill, at Camp Upton. The Chief of Police, John F. Dupray, takes a fifteen day leave of absence for reasons unstated. Miss Stella Goldsmith of Rowley, a top graduate of the Manning High School when she was only 15 years of age, has died at age 17. Miss Cleola Davis of Ward Street, Miss Marjorie Morris of High Street, and A. Warner of County Street are ill. Several daughters of Nova Scotia have succumbed: Mrs. Frank Scahill, 34, of Central Street, nee Emma Wright, and Mrs. Christina Jones, mother of Mrs. Fred L. Grant, at age 70. Starvors Poulos of 106 5th Avenue died.

The Ipswich Grange cancels its annual meeting, as do other organizations. The Chronicle reports that the epidemic has slowed troop shipments to Europe as well as re-supply of troops already deployed. In New York City the Board of Health has changed the hours of offices, stores, and theaters to thin out the number of passengers on public transportation at the same time. A third front page story notes that “the state of public mind in Ipswich has been disturbed”

October 18: The headlines declare that “Influenza on the Wane”. This week there are “only” 174 new cases, and only five new cases are admitted to Camp Mason. The Board of Health gives its approval for public organizations to resume their normal operations. The schools re-open.

Mrs. Sarah Nichols of Green Street dies. Mrs. Chrisola Skraka of High Street, born in Greece, 21 years of age, who immigrated to the United State of America in 1917, and her infant daughter of eight months both die. Her services were held in the funeral home of Ralph K. Whittier, on Summer Street. Also, the paper tells us the sad fact that “a Polish man whose name was not learned” has died. Six year-old Welsford Sheppard of Manning Street dies, and his father is seriously ill. A woman from Rowley, Mrs. Elsie Carey [Green] Collins, wife of Dr. Collins, a 30 year-old, a 1906 graduate of Manning High School, a teacher in the Ipswich Public Schools, passes away.

October 25: Miss Maude Schofield has fully recovered, as has Dr. McGinley, and Camp Mason closes.

November: Funeral services were held for Ralph LaCount of Poplar Street, 28 years old,, who had worked for ‘The Shoe’ in Beverly. Only a few hours after his funeral, Mrs. LaCount dies. Mr. and Mrs. LaCount had no children or survivors. Roberta Myrtle Brisbee has just died in Ipswich, and her father, Walter C. Brisbee has passed away at Camp Devens.

November 11, 1918, at 5:45 AM, the Ipswich Fire Station blasts the fire horn 10 times in succession, rousing the populace and signaling the good news that the Armistice has been signed. The celebration begins. Churches throughout the town pick up the message and all the bells are ringing. The day is filled with tears of happiness, parades, a bonfire on Market Street, marching bands, and people embracing. The Spanish Flu virus takes full advantage of the closely packed crowds, rekindles itself and spreads again.

Armistice Day parade on Central Street, on year later (1919)

 

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The Ipswich Mills Strike

A Labor Day salute to all hard-working and underpaid people

The Lawrence Textile Mills strike in 1912 known as the “Bread and Roses strike” involved immigrant workers in Lawrence MA striking against a a two-hour pay cut. The strike grew to more than twenty thousand workers. Amos Lawrence also owned the Ipswich Mills Company, where a similar strike occurred a year later.

Photo from Ipswich Chronicle, 350th Anniversary special edition

Photo from Ipswich Chronicle, 350th Anniversary special edition

Police patrolling Estes Street. Riverview Pizza is the last building on the left

In early 1913, a strike by non English-speaking workers demanding a 20 percent wage increase at the Ipswich Hosiery Mills plant was organized by members of the local Industrial Workers of the World. Hundreds of immigrants from England, Ireland, Poland and Greece and French Canadians worked in the mill. Five hundred local people continued to work through the strike. A newspaper article reprinted in the Hellraisers Journal states that 500 Italians and 100 Greeks were involved in the strike, but such a high number of Italian immigrants is not substantiated.

Police at the entrance to the Ipswich Mills during the strike

There was considerable agitation, and agitated residents at a large meeting at town hall declared “We have got to meet force with force.” On June 10, police fired into a crowd of protesting immigrant workers just after the non-striking English-speaking workers had left the plant. They claimed that the “foreign” strikers were “jostling” the English-speaking strikebreakers.

The Ipswich Mills in 1913

Seven of the wounded were taken to a hospital in Salem. A young Greek woman named Nicholetta Paudelopoulou was shot in the head and killed by police as she left work in Brown’s Essex Mill, and seven persons were injured, including several policemen hit by flying bottles and debris tossed by the demonstrators. Fifteen persons, including the local leaders of the  I.W.W. were taken into custody. Nicholetta Paudelopoulou was buried at The Immigrant Cemetery, part of the Highland Cemetery Annex on Fow ler’s Lane.

The New York Times
Thursday June 12, 1913

Mill Strike Police

Ipswich, Mass. – Police open fire on picket line, one woman killed.
On Tuesday, June 10th, police here opened fire on the strikers’ picket line at the Ipswich Hosiery Mill killing Nicholetta Paudelopoulou, 27, and wounding seven others. The wounded were taken to a hospital in Salem. Miss Paudelopoulou was taken to a nearby doctors office where she died of a bullet wound to the head.

Police patrolling the mills

Fifteen strikers were arrested, including the local leaders of the I.W.W. Nathan Hermann, I.W.W. organizer, Mr. E.L. Pingree, Secretary of the Lowell I.W.W., and Mrs. Pingree have been charged with inciting to riot resulting in murder. Thomas J. Halliday, National Secretary of the textile branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, has arrived to take charge of the strike.

Mill workers on strike, 1913

strike

 

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Architectural Preservation District public meetings

Approximate map of the proposed Architectural Preservation District

The Ipswich Planning Department and Historical Commission and local residents have worked for five years on a proposal for an Architectural Preservation District (APD) that would include the most historic areas of the town. The District would be established by adoption of a bylaw at Town Meeting and would be administered by an Architectural Preservation District Commission.

The plan will be presented as a warrant question on for the fall 2014 Ipswich Town Meeting. The current draft encompasses an area roughly defined as 220 acres beginning at the South Green, continuing along the river to the Town Wharf, East and High Streets to the High Street Bridge, North Main Street and Meeting House Green. Read more about the APD.

Upcoming Public Meetings

  • Wednesday September 3, 7:00 pm at the Town Hall, Room A (Selectmen’s meeting room): The Ipswich Historical Commission is holding its first Public Hearing on the proposed Architectural Preservation District. The public is encouraged to attend the meeting to learn about the proposal.
  • Tuesday September 23, Architectural Preservation District Info Meeting, 5:30pm at the Ipswich Museum.

 

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