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A personal letter written from Camp Sheridan, Montgomery, Alabama on October 21, 1918 about the Flu Pandemic

In the following transcribed letter, Lucy describes her work to her son in the influenza ward at the Camp Sheridan hospital.

Transcribed letter from Lucy Durr at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama, to her son, Clifford, Written October 21, 1918 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

This personal letter was written by a mother to her son October 21, 1918 from the influenza ward at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama.

Camp Sheridan “Nurse’s Quarters”

Oct. 21st

My dear Cliff –

The heading of this letter looks very much, as if I, too, were a part of the government, and if I remain here much longer, I will feel that way – At present, I feel humble in the presence of trained women – but I’m already feeling more at home.

“Little Auntie” has written you why I came.

I’m in the Influenza ward – When the patients develop pneumonia, they are taken away. The epidemic, I hear is on the decrease.


[page 2] For five days, I’ve seen nothing but rain and sickness. Rain has made bad conditions worse. I have made some sad observations: one is that a sick man is in a bad fix in the Army. I do not say this in criticism, for certainly the nurse and orderlies are kind.

And since my experience here I will say that the orderlies have the worse job in the Army. At least, so it seems to me. A sweet looking blonde boy came in yesterday, and to-night his fever is running high.

He is on one of the upstair porches. This after noon, I went out to see him and found him nervous & frightened. I asked him if I could do anything for him, he replied, I’m lonesome. I knew that was an invitation for me to stay with him, so

[page 3] 2 I got a chair and sat with him, until supper time. He was from Baltimore and a presbyterian. I could not bear to leave him because he was frightened. “Little Auntie” phoned me tonight, I had a long satisfactory letter from you to-day. Then we heard from you, by telegram of yesterday. I am so glad you are with Paul and Joe.

Joe writes, he will telegraph me, if you blow your nose real loud. Tell him that’s exactly what I want him to do. This evening’s paper, publishes [page 4] the death of Dr. Robert Goldthwaite of meningitis, in France, Sept. 30th. He leaves a wife and four children.

If the “Flu” keeps up, much longer, the casualty list over here, will be larger, than the one in France. You see, I can’t keep off of the Influenza. Seriously, if you get the least sick, telegraph me. One trouble with this epidemic is, the right is not taken of the men in the beginning, in most cases.

I had a letter from John to-day – written Sept. 26th. There was less of interest in it, than any letter he has written since he’s been in France. He wrote that he had recently seen “Harg” Van degraff, who is now a 1st Lt. John is either not a military man, or is “out of luck”. I can’t write you much of interest, while I’m here. When you are too busy & tired to write, keep some cards on hand, & let us hear from you. Love to Joe & Paul. Lovingly – Mother.

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  1. The Spanish Flu pandemic …

  2. MAJ Max Adams Morris, KIA-BNR Korea, 28-Nov-1950 My maternal grandfather, Joseph Walker Morris, MD, died in the 1918 influenza epidemic in Blount County, Alabama. He died when my Mother (Ruby Alene Morris Fite) was less than two years old. Mother’s younger brother, my Uncle Max, MAJ Max Adams Morris, KIA-BNR Korea, 28-Nov-1950, was born after the death of his Father. My maternal grandmother (Ruby Adams Morris) died in 1954 from complications with diabetes but mostly from a broken heart over the loss of her youngest child, my Uncle Max, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in DPRK. Uncle Max was XO of the 57th FA Bn within the 31st RCT, 7th ID, aka TF Maclean/Faith. DPAA has a mtDNA sample from me to hopefully identify the remains of my Uncle Max. I am the last living family member to have seen my Uncle Max alive; my Aunt Sarah Alice Finley Morris Winter(dec), my Mother (dec), and I traveled with him cross-country in the summer of 1950 for his deployment. I long for the day when we “…beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks…”

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