Wednesday, April 1, 2020

1918 Spanish Flu in Bunker Hill

From the Gazette-News: October 18, 1918

Uncle Sam's Advice on the Flu
U.S. Public Health Service Issues Official Health Bulletin on (Spanish) Influenza

Latest Word on Subject
Epidemic probably not Spanish in Origin --Germ still unknown --People should guard against "Droplet Infection" --Surgeon General Blue make authoritative Statement.

From the Gazette-News: October 25, 1918

     County Superintendent George W. Solomon says on account of the influenza, he was compelled to call off the County Teacher's Institute.  "Owing to so many cases of the Spanish Influenza and also wishing to help stop the dreaded disease, I  have decided to call off the Teachers' Institute, Spelling Bee Contest, and the School Officers' Meeting until future date."

Woodburn: The school closed here Monday for indefinite time, according to State Law, on account of influenza.

Mrs. Bessie Raymond received worked from her son, Olan, that he is very sick at Camp Sherman, Ohio with influenza.

Mrs. M. J. Morrison, of Pleasant Grove received word that her son, James, was very ill at Camp Taylor, Kentucky with Spanish Influenza.

Route 17: Mr. and Mrs. James H. Smith received word of the death of their son, Charles, at Camp Taylor, Kentucky.

Dorchester:  Our schools were closed Friday for an indefinite period.

Edgar Wohlers, Henry Suhling, Jr., and Frank Eggers, have been ill with Spanish Influenza at Camp Taylor, Kentucky.  they are reported as getting well.

Sterling (west of Woodburn): Our school is closed on account of influenza

Delta County Historical Society Archives photo Above, the Health Board order from 1918 is shown. The order limited business activity and required all residents, including children, to wear masks when outside their homes.

From the Gazette-News, November 1, 1918

     Mrs. Henry Miller, of Woodburn, came home from Camp Taylor, Kentucky after a visit since August.  She says trainloads leave every day for the front, 4,000 leaving Tuesday and Wednesday for New York and New Jersey.  She says truckloads would pass by loaded with caskets, often 100 dying a night.  Two barracks are quarantined for Spanish Meningitis, including Mr. Miller's, else he would have gone with the rest this week.

     Certainly, if ever, there was a life of sacrifice and duty, Miss Maria Louise Nivin exemplified it, dying in the Red Cross service on a hospital train at Cumberland, MD, after having been on it but a week from influenza.

Route 17: The schools at Smalleytown has been closed on account of influenza.

From the Gazette-News, November 22, 1918

     The flu has increased to such an extent, the Board of Health has deemed it wise to forbid gatherings of any nature until further notice.  Some call it the La Grippe and it does not appear to be more that catarrhal fever. At least, results have not been fatal as compared to Benld and other paces nearby, but it is bad enough and there may be a couple hundred cases in Bunker Hill. 

From the Gazette-News, November 29, 1918

 Woodburn: Miss Hattie Partridge opened her school on the 18, being closed on account of the "flu".  Meantime she was very sick with it herself.

Miss Edith Elliot opened her school on the 25th, she also having been sick with the flu.

Ridgley: Henry Kastien's and Wm. Wieseman's have been sick with influenza, but are able to be around again.

Dorchester: Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Maxeiner, who have been sick the past week, are both able to be up.

Our schools and churches have not opened up yet on account of the flue.

     Henry Suhling is able to come to town again after a siege of sickness.  And Mrs. Windsor, who have been sick with the flue are better.  Mr. Windsor spent part of last week at the station but is not strong enough yet to take up the work.  Dave Thompson has been doing what work he could do, the trains being reported from Bunker Hill and Gillespie.  The Big Four did not send an agent, presumable because of shortage of help..

Mrs. Lewis Fuess and daughter Josie, who have been sick with the flue, are well again.

From the Gazette-News, December 6, 1918

The flue epidemic (in Illinois) has reached a total of 22,566 and this is estimated to be about 3 percent of number of cases.

From the Gazette-News, December 13, 1918

Everybody should gather in the churches in a spirit of thankfulness, now that the ban is lifted.

The public school will open as soon as Prof. Heyer is able to resume work.

Dorchester: Our public schools expect to open up after the holidays, providing there are no cases of influenza.

From the Gazette-News, December 20, 1918

District 51: Burton School opened Monday December 16, having been closed for some time on account of the influenza ban.

Route 17: W. F. Lancaster is able to be out after a long siege of flu.

Dorsey: John E. Johnson, the mail carrier and his family have been ill with the flue.  Wm. Bertels has been on the route for the past few days

From the Gazette-News, January 3, 1919

School Notes: Most of the pupils that have been absent on account of the flu are back at school now.

On Thursday morning of last week, during the opening exercise, Miss Edith Pyle entertained the High School with a vocal solo entitled, "Please Touch My Daddy's Star Again and Change it Back to Blue".  The solo was rendered well and was greatly enjoyed by all.

From the Gazette-News, January 10, 1919

Dorchester: Our school opened up Monday, January 6 after being closed several weeks on account of the flu.  The Bayless town school opened last week.  The churches are holding services again having been closed also.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories here at

---Cite this story: Stanton, Carl L. . "Bunker Hill News 1918." In Bunker Hill Revisited, Volume Five, 1911-1920, pp. 271. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 2004. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

72 Years Ago - March 19, 1948 - Tornado Devastates City of Bunker Hill

NOTE: This is a follow up to the 1948 tornado posting that I wrote on my November 2015 blog at

On March 19, 1948, at 6:45 a.m., another tornado hit the town of Bunker Hill.  This tornado had an estimated cost of damage of 1 1/2 million dollars (the first one occurred ten years earlier on April 6, 1938 which damage was estimated at $250,000).  Over 80% of the city was destroyed with very few things left standing.

Washington Street in the Bunker Hill business district resembled a set in a Hollywood disaster film after a tornado struck on March 19, 1948.  Nineteen people were killed and almost every building in town was damaged or destroyed. --file/TheState Journal Register  

Aerial view of the Bank block showing the Dental Clinic in the lower right and the Drug Store in the upper left

Looking North from the top of the School building.

Many of Bunker Hill's churches were destroyed.  All business except First National Bank, Bahn's Grocery, and Jacoby-wise on the east side of Washington, and one building on the west side were destroyed.  Today, these are the only two story business buildings in town to remind us of what our business district once looked like.

Bahn's Market soon after the 1948 tornado.

Behren's Drug Store and Lincoln Theater had the second floor lifted off.  It had served as a recreational hall and gymnasium.

The second floor above Lincoln Theater and Behren's Drugstore was lifted off the ground by the wind.  The bandstand at the intersection of Washington and Warren Streets collapsed.  The new Legion home of Partridge Post 578 was destroyed.  The fire house and city hall still stood.

Helen Fahrenkrog Teakert in front of the bandstand at the center of Washington and Warren streets before the tornado.  Note the filling station which is now Louie's Barber Shop and the Fire Department.

Early 1940's view of Washington and Warren Streets before the tornado.

 The remainder of the bandstand after the tornado struck.

The toppled Lincoln Statue

When the statue of Lincoln was toppled in the tornado, the statue fell from the pedestal and the head was found in someones yard.  The person laid it back on its pedestal and the body was still lying on its side in front of it.

Front view of Meissner School which was the Red Cross Headquarters.

The Meissner School was used as a hospital.  Another part of the school was used as a morgue.  To enter Bunker Hill after the tornado, a person had to have a card or pass.  This was done to prevent looting.  An important mass meeting was held on March 26 to decide how to reconstruct Bunker Hill.

 Postmaster Edna Bauser's new 1948 Hudson.
 Bill Miller and Terri Teakert in front

Members of surrounding American Legion Posts stopped sightseers as they passed through Bunker Hill on April 4, 1948 and collected $2,463.00 in donations from them.  About a week before, they collected $618.00 from sightseers.  The total amount of donations collected in this manner was $3,081.00.

The Red Cross was here within hours after the tornado struck Bunker Hill and set up their tents in front of Meissner School.  They provided shelter for those who were left without a home.  They also handed out food and clothing to anyone who needed it.  They aided in building and repairing homes and buildings and supplied furniture and medical care too.  Farming and occupational equipment was given to anyone who needed it.

Delmer "D.D" Truesdale retrieves furniture from what was left of his radio shop after the tornado passed through. --file/TheState Journal Register

A truck parked in front of businesses on the East side of Washington Street was crushed by bricks. --file/TheState Journal Register

H.F Lund of Springfield set up a ham radio in the middle of Bunker Hill and relayed information to radio stations around the State. --file/TheState Journal Register 
NOTE: H.F. "Buzz" Lund was FCC licensed as Amateur Radio operator W9KQL
He was a member of the Springfield, IL  Amateur Radio Club and also an active member of the Red Cross
His son, Thomas "TJ" Lund is also FCC licensed as N9PFC and now lives in Champaign, IL 

Ham Radio operator (name unknown) from the Springfield Amateur Radio Club assisting with communications during the tornado cleanup operations.

The Red Cross called a large meeting in Springfield on April 28, inviting 1,000 Mayors and 101 Sheriffs to attend to discuss the disaster.  The Red Cross aid went as high as $110,389.00 and possibly even higher.

A Red Cross itemized bill that was submitted after six weeks is as follows:

  • Emergency Mass Shelter and evacuation - $750
  • Mass feeding, clothing and food for individual families - $10,000
  • Rebuilding and repairing homes and bu9ildings -$59,000
  • Furniture - $14,000
  • Medical Care - $3,000
  • Farm Equipment and Supplies - $1,000
  • Occupational Equipment and Supplies - $200

The Salvation Army camp at Tornado wrecked Bunker Hill

The Salvation Army was set up on Washington across from the present Conoco Station.  They distributed food and clothing to the tornado victims and served approximately 1,500 hot meals each day.

The Shell Oil Company donated 4,000 gallons of gas, diesel fuel, and motor oil.  The Standard Oil company donated 1,000 gallons of gas and diesel fuel.

  Bunker Hill Business District in 1947 before the tornado.

Bunker Hill business section from the Truesdale home.

Bunker Hill on the day of the storm.

Overturned Meissner school bus parked at the Bruckert's Garage when the storm struck.

Every day for a month people from Blackburn College came to Bunker Hill.  A ten-man work crew helped local residents clean up the debris left by the tornado.  They also helped in the rebuilding.  One hundred and sixty coal miners from Coalton, Illinois closed shop for a day to come to Bunker Hill to help in the cleaning and rebuilding.  Coal miners from neighboring towns also came to help.

Reverend Burke is speaking, Reverend Johnson standing by the tractor.  Berean Baptist's Secretary Berniece Sauser and Gertrude Hilderbrand sing a duet.

Residents and volunteer workers stop their task of repairing damaged buildings and clearing away storm wreckage long enough to gather around the demolished bandstand for an open-air Easter service.  Using a bulldozer for a pulpit, the Reverend M. E. Burke and the Reverend H. C. Johnson conducted the community service.  --BH Gazette, April 1, 1948    

The American Legion chapters from Benld and East Alton held benefit dances for Bunker Hill and they netted $578.50.  They Altamont community held a "Battle for Bunker Hill" campaign and raised $856.41 in tornado relief for the town.

Many construction companies were here to offer their assistance during the days of rebuilding.  William's Hardware in Shipman offered special discounts to any victim of the tornado who lost their homes and belongings.

To show thanks to every group, organization, business, and individual, thank-you letters were printed in most of the editions of the Gazette-News following the tornado.

Looking Southwest from the flagpole area.  The "X" marks the present Amoco Station.

Since most of the major building in the business district were destroyed after the tornado, many adaptations had to be made to continue their business.  For example, the Post Office was temporarily set up in the lobby of the bank, a combination hospital/morgue was set up at Meissner School, and many gas stations set up tents.

At the time of the tornado, E. A. Rich was superintendent of Meissner School.
 The school, closed during the weeks following the tornado was re-opened on April 12, 1948.  When the students returned, they were not required to make up the work from the three weeks of the disaster.  Closing activities and graduation would be conducted as planned.

Memorial Services in Tornado wrecked Bunker Hill

The tornado of 1948 was the worst disaster to ever strike Bunker Hill.  Many people were killed or injured and much property was destroyed.  Let's hope history never repeats itself in our town.  There were 19 people killed and 126 injured.

The list of Deceased from the 1948 Tornado:
  • Allen, Jacqueline Jean (Jean Fensterman Allen's baby )
  • Gregory, J.C
  • Gurley, Marvin
  • Hales, Elizabeth
  • Kay, Georgette
  • Kay, Jacky
  • Kehr, Charles 
  • Landreth, Georgia May
  • Landreth, Mrs. Rachel
  • Langacher, Mrs. Chris
  • Osburn, Juanita
  • Pollock, Mrs. Isabel
  • Ridgley, Rose
  • Tipton, William
  • Vroman, Carolyn Sue
  • Vroman, Danny
  • Vroman, James
  • Vroman, Norma
  • Weimers, Jane

Local People Requested To Call For Packages and Mail

All residents of Bunker Hill expecting packages are requested by Miss Edna Bauser, local postmaster, who has set up temporary quarters in the First National Bank, to call immediately for such packages and other mail as soon as possible.  Lack of space at the bank, from which the Post Office is operating, make it imperative that mail be called for soon.
Package mail has been held in St. Louis since the tornado, but was expected to start coming though Thursday --Bunker Hill Gazette, Thursday March 25, 1948

Governor Green Tours

Governor Dwight Green of Illinois, and Governor Jester of Texas, toured the Bunker Hill disaster area Monday afternoon and the Illinois Governor reiterated the statement made in a telegram to Mayor Miller Saturday that the State administration would render every assistance in its power to restore this stricken area.  --Bunker Hill Gazette, Thursday, March 25, 1948

Following taken from "Rembembering"
Anna Wieseman: A lot of people didn't want to come back to Bunker Hill and were going to live out of town.  Then the business people and the people who wanted to stay had an all night meeting to decide what to do.  If there were people wanting to leave town, why, the businesses didn't want to be here either.  So, they decided to stay and some of the businesses rapaired their building.  This made more people stay and rebuild their homes.

Wilbur Pullen: We were living just south of Woodburn and did not get much damage.  I watched the storm go over and then went to my neighbor Ted Huette's to see if anyone needed help.  While I was talking to him, another neighbor came across the field riding a horse.  He asked us to come help as a beam had fallen on his wife.  As we hitched up the wagon, we realized that his horse had a large sliver of wood through on front tendon.  Had had been so worried about his family he hadn't noticed his horse was injured.

Marie Bartels: Our house was one of the few left standing on Washington Street.  A path was cut through from the south end of town to our house so that the ambulance could come into town for the injured who had be brought to hour house.

You can also view more about the 1948 Tornado with videos and interviews from those that remember it at my link at

View my shared photos and video interviews from the 1948 Bunker Hill Tornado devastation stored on my Google drive located at

Be sure to visit our Youtube video links at the video provided by the State Journal Register at 


...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories here at

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, pp. 43-48. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Monument House - Bunker Hill's "Grand Hotel"

The Monument House
 was located in the northwest block of Fayette and Clinton Streets.

This is a follow up expanded story from my earlier March 10, 2015 blog posting which can be read at

Through the early years of the old Bunker Hill Gazette ran comments and references to the Monument House, Bunker Hill's grand hotel.  How old it was, exactly, we cannot say, but the following article on the Monument House appeared in the Aug. 5, 1896 issue of the Gazette, and we found it interesting.  A small picture appeared with the article, however, it is not fit for reproduction.  Should anyone have a picture of it, preferably during its grand days, bet even in its later years, we would appreciate the use of it.

August 5, 1896 --  One of the greatest events in the history of Bunker Hill, was the opening of the Monument house, which took place in 1856, under management of Mr. William H. Carroll (now long deceased).  This became one of the most famous hostelries between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi.  The Indianapolis & St. Louis Railway (then the St. Louis, Alton and Terre Haute) and the Ohio & Mississippi were then the only lines between St. Louis and the East and the passenger travel over the former was very heavy.  All through trains stopped here for meals and the table service was so excellent that the house was noted far and wide.  (See "The Big Four Station" blog post at: and "Lee and Arthur Sutton - Railroad Clerks" - ).  After the death of Mr. Carroll, the house passed through several hands, and some years ago burned. down.

The name by which the famous old hotel went, has been resurrected in connection with the practically new house on lots adjoining the old one.  The engraving above shows the appearance of the new establishment.  In its renovation and furnishing, the owner, Mr. John R. Richards, has spared expense in no direction, and in the completion of his work he has reared a Monument to his own good taste and liberality, as indeed he has in such a handsome adornment to the city as his own residence, and in such a substantial addition to our business interest as in the Foundry.  That he has been highly successful in his work goes without saying.  The arrangement of the house is most complete for managers and patrons' one more comfortable or more handsomely furnished will not be found in any interior town.

The building is frame, covering 33 by 75 feet, two stories high throughout, with porches and verandas on three sides.  The painting is fresh and tastefully contrasted in colors, and the tall grassed, abundantly shaded grounds, unmarred by fence, make handsome exterior surroundings.  Adjacent on the west and north are well grassed lawns.

The lower floor contains office, parlors, dining room and kitchens, with good dry cellar under all.  The office is abundantly lighted with windows on north and south, and is wainscoated with oak.  The furniture is heavy well polished oak, upholstered in green leather.  There is a capacious safe, and the large clock on the wall is a handsome ornament.

The ladies parlor is carpeted with Brussels of elegant pattern; the furniture includes some rich plush pieces; the wall and ceiling papering is rich and tasty, as it is throughout the house.  Across the hall is another parlor, which may be utilized as sample room or bed room; the furniture is well polished oak.

The dining room is cheerful and well-lighted, and furnished with latest design of furniture in oak, the principal ornament being a very fine sideboard.  The room contains four dining tables which will accommodate twenty-four guests.

The kitchen and pantry are models of convenience, containing a capacious range, reservoirs for hot and cold water, and closets stored with an unusually large and excellent outfit of tableware.  The floors are hard pine, with oak wainscoating.

The upper floor has four bedroom suites of two rooms each (eight single rooms) and a double room all well lighted and ventilated.  They are handsomely papered and carpeted in first class wool ingrains and beautifully furnished with bedstands of iron with bright brass trimming, the other articles being highly polished oak.

All the hallways and stairways are carpeted and papered, and most excellent taste has been shown throughout, in this as well as in the furnishing.  For the present the house will be lighted with coal oil, and heated by stoves.

Mr. Richard has shown a commendable public spirit in dealing with home people in all his large undertakings.  The carpenters and painters; bills have been done by home workmen.  The home merchants are entitled to credit for filling their contracts well.  M. Sessel has furnished the table and the bedroom linen; the crockery and glassware came through S. N. Sanford; C. J. Jacoby put in the carpets, furniture, etc.;  J. F. Cummings provided the mammoth range and cooking utensils, and W. P. Dickie set up the office clock.

The house was put in preparation for rent to a competent manager; there have been several applicants, but no contract has yet been signed, and the property is open at present to some capable man, ready equipped for immediate and satisfactory service.  It will not be let to any one who will not keep a high grade house on a two dollar basis, with the best service that the money will afford.  It was opened in a quiet way last Monday.  Miss Lizzie Kenyon acting as housekeeper; while Mr. Richards, who will take his meals there, will exercise a general supervision and act as a Bureau of Information.  In their hands there will be no want for creature comforts or kindly attention to the resident boarders who have engaged there, or of commercial travelers or other transients who happen along.  It is to be regretted that one who knows as much about good living, and has as many genial points as Mr. Richards, did not drop into the role of Boniface years ago and settle down to it as a life occupation.

Read more about the Monument House Hotel story on my March 10, 2015 blog posting at

--Cite this story: "Monument House Bunker - Hill's 'Grand Hotel'" Gazette News, August 18, 1966