Through November of 1918, the cases, and more importantly deaths, from Spanish Flu decreased. People started breathing a sigh of relief without it going through a surgical mask. Then Adams County then suffered what only a few places around the country saw, a second spike in the flu.
By the end of October, the Gettysburg Times was reporting that 23,000 Pennsylvanians had died from the flu. That represents roughly ¼ of 1 percent of the state’s population that died in one month and the month still had five days left in it when this was reported.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the flu peaked in Philadelphia during the week of Oct. 16. On that day, not that week, 700 Philadelphians died. Pittsburgh saw its peak three weeks later. So Adams County most likely saw its peak somewhere in between.
The emergency hospital at Xavier Hall in Gettysburg lifted its quarantine at the end of the October and by this point 148 people who had been sent there had died.
Residents were confused about the flu, which only added to their fear of it. The way Spanish Flu struck across the county was inconsistent. The Halloween parade in Gettysburg was cancelled, but the bans on public gatherings were slowly being lifted.
The second wave of Spanish Flu hit particularly hard in the Fairfield area and the eastern part of the county. One doctor was quoted in the Star and Sentinel as saying, “I have just come from four homes. Three or four people were sick in every one of them. One of the families had both parents and the two children ill. I have another family in which there were six cases.”
Reports said the second outbreak wasn’t as pervasive, but it could still be deadly. This is typical of locations where there was a second outbreak.
Adams County moved into the 1918 Christmas season cautiously. Dr. B. F. Royer told the Gettysburg Times, “With the approach of the holiday season too much stress cannot be laid on the necessity of avoiding crowding in the stores, many of which are poorly ventilated.”
Christmas 1918 was somber. A lot of people had lost someone they knew to the flu. Officials urged people to do their shopping early when fewer people would be in the stores. Church Christmas programs were cancelled for fear of having too many people in a confined space.
The Compiler reported that the Stoner Brothers died within 24 hours of each other. They were farmers who had been married for two years and were both in their mid-20s.
The Gettysburg Times reported that Charles Walter who had been sick for two weeks with the flu died on January 2 at home of his parents just before they had to leave for the funeral of their daughter who had died earlier from flu.
The Gettysburg Times reported another unusual case associated with Spanish Flu in 1919. A man named Roy Dice said he had caught the flu, survived and Dr. Swan told him he could start sitting up. Dice began to feel pains in his leg. It quickly swelled up and turned blue. Then gangrene set in and he wound up having his leg amputated.
By January 18, 160 soldiers had died from the flu, most of them at Camp Colt, according to the Star and Sentinel. In Gettysburg, 19 people died and four in Cumberland, Straban, Freedom, Highland townships. This is incorrect simply from counting the obituaries. It may simply be the number of people who were listed as dying specifically from the flu. However, pneumonia deaths at this time were from a complication from contracting the Spanish Flu, and these deaths were roughly equal to those who died from the flu.
Even using the low numbers, Gettysburg’s population was 4,600 at the time. This represents roughly 4 percent of population dying in just a few months.