Today we complete our study of the 1918-1919 Spanish Influenza outbreak.

Despite the troubling news of deaths and disease in the third of week of October 1918, there were some indications that things would get better. Those interested in the fair that year were happy to learn that, “The managers of the Suwannee County Fair announced that the Fair would be postponed on account of the Spanish influenza epidemic, but have decided to hold it Dec. 10-14.

“Many other fairs have been cancelled in the state due to the flu but the managers felt that it would be all right to hold the exposition on the new dates.”

During the last week of October 1918, further information was received about the Spanish Influenza. “Due to the impracticality of holding the Fall term of Circuit Court in Suwannee County on account of the influenza epidemic, Judge Horne has decided not to hold such term.”

By December 1918, however, the epidemic was beginning to subside. The Fair was held, despite “so much sickness and death through the flu epidemic.” Plays such as Mikado were presented at the local school auditorium and businesses had reopened. The Live Oak City Council was paying bills for the extra help needed while some of its employees in the Police Department and City Clerk’s Office had been sick with the flu. By early 1919, Suwannee County was focused more on Army demobilization, Prohibition and flooding, and the influenza panic had been relegated to the past.

Influenza scares would again rear their head in Suwannee County, including in February 1920, when the Suwannee Democrat reported: “Owing to the fact that the weather has been very inclement for the past 10-days and in order to avoid an influenza epidemic the school authorities closed the Live Oak school for the week. However, we are requested to announce that school will open Monday as weather and health conditions are very materially improved.

“There has been a number of influenza and lagrippe cases in the city but there has been nothing like an epidemic and the schools were closed as a precautionary measure.”

However, life returned to normal for the citizens of Suwannee County, much as it will after the present crisis has passed. Let us take a moment to reflect upon and learn from the resiliency of our forefathers.

More history next time!

Eric Musgrove can be reached at ericm@suwgov.org or 386-362-0564.

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