1918’s Influenza Epidemic, Here – Part 1, The View from Nine Mile Cemetery, Wallace, Idaho

By Ron Roizen and Dennis O’Brien

The authors thank Jennifer Backman, M.D., for her help deciphering a number of the death certificates used in this analysis.

Chart 1

November, 1918 was the worst month, according to Nine Mile Cemetery’s mute but somber testimony.

The first eight months of the year, from January to August, saw an average of five new graves per month at Nine Mile.  Then, September saw eight deaths.  One, notably, was that of a soldier killed in action over in France; another was caused by lobar pneumonia, one of the typical diagnoses assigned to deaths occasioned by influenza.  The latter was possibly the first of the influenza epidemic’s victims at Nine Mile.

October saw a rush of new graves, thus also offering the first tangible evidence that the epidemic had now reached our area — there were 19 total deaths, 13 from influenza.  Ten of these 13 influenza deaths fell in that month’s final 11 days.  And then came November, with its 40 total deaths – eight times the graveyard’s typical monthly average – 37 from influenza.  As in October, November’s deaths were concentrated in one portion of the month – 33 of its 37 influenza deaths occurred between the 1st and the 14th.  Hence, the 25 days from October 20th to November 14th yielded the influenza epidemic’s greatest concentration of deaths, according to Nine Mile Cemetery’s record.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shoshone County’s Fallen World War I Warriors: Three Plaque Omissions


PVT Andrew Sjursen

By Francie Lane and Ron Roizen

The War Mothers Plaque on the green by the Wallace Carnegie Library commemorates Shoshone County’s fallen World War I warriors.  The names of 44 men are honored on the tablet.  As it happens, we encountered, in the course of exploring the plaque’s history, the names of three additional men with tangible ties to Shoshone County who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I.  We suggest that they should arguably have been represented on the War Mothers Plaque as well.  There may be other omitted names too, of course, which future research may reveal.

The three omitted plaque candidates were Andrew Sjursen, Clarence Bernard Frenzel, and Bernardi or Bernardo Bartolomeo.  Our hope is that an appropriate forum – say, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization in the Silver Valley – will engage in a discussion aimed at selecting which of the three names would appropriately be listed on some sort of supplemental signage or notice near the tablet on the library’s grounds.  (Our own view is that all three merit such listing, but, and of course, viewpoints may differ.)  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ford and Chevy butcher the American idiom


TV commercials afford the writers of advertising copy precious few sentences to get their messages across. 

Hence, one would think they’d take considerable care with the English language.

With Ford and Chevy these days, however, not so much.

Ford runs a series of TV ads for its F-150 line of trucks.  In several, they employ a proud slogan at the ad’s end – namely, this:

“It doesn’t just raise the bar, pal, it is the bar.”

(Sometimes, I think, the “pal” is omitted.)

Well, say what? Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lynch Mob That Greeted Hill Beachey’s Return to Lewiston


The Golden Age newspaper’s banner

Note:  A slightly different version of this article was published in the Shoshone News-Press on 10/27/18 (link).  

Earlier this week, Wednesday, October 24th marked another anniversary, the 155th, of Hill Beachey’s departure from Lewiston in search of the coldblooded murderers of Lloyd Magruder and Magruder’s packing crew.

Beachey departed from Lewiston on Saturday, October 24th, 1863, accompanied by Thomas Ferrell.  Roughly six weeks would pass before the brave Mr. Beachey arrived back, in early December, now with his three prisoners in tow.  Readers of this writer’s past commentaries on Beachey (e.g., link) will know that I regard him as Idaho’s first authentic hero and worthy of an annual statewide holiday named in his honor, every October 24th.

Yet accounts of Hill Beachey’s heroic journey and achievement are fraught with myth and misinformation.  Early chroniclers often valued accelerating book sales over historical fidelity, and embellished the story wherever they saw fit.  Sometimes authors interpolated parts of Beachey’s story where few or no credible sources existed. Sometimes, too, a later author uncritically retold or repackaged elements of the story as offered by an earlier author.

Over time the ratio of credible history to iffy embellishments may tilt perilously toward the latter. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shoshone County’s Fallen WWI Warriors – Austin F. Reedy


Private Austin Ferdinand Reedy was killed in action in France.  A ship’s manifest shows that he sailed for the European theater as part of Company H, 163rd Infantry Regiment on the U.S.S. Leviathan (pictured above), on December 15, 1917 from Hoboken, New Jersey.  According to the “Find A Grave” search service (here), PVT Reedy is buried at the Libby Cemetery in Libby, Montana.  This online record indicates that he was born in May of 1896 and was killed on July 21st, 1918, age 22.  His remains may have been buried initially in France and then transported to Libby, for reburial on July 17, 1922.  A newspaper report in the Great Falls Daily Tribune [Montana], dated June 19th, 1919, conveys that the newly organized Libby chapter of the United War Veterans organization named itself in honor of Austin Reedy on account of Reedy being “…Libby’s first soldier to fall on the European battlefields.”  According to Wikipedia, the 163rd Infantry Regiment was a unit of the Montana National Guard.  It became part of the 41st Infantry Division of the regular U.S. Army in World War I.

REEDY-GRAVESTONE.jpgThere is a mystery surrounding PVT Austin F. Reedy’s appearance on the War Mothers Plaque in Wallace.  Although it does not of course diminish his service and sacrifice one iota, PVT Reedy’s connection to Shoshone County, Idaho is, at this moment, unclear to us.  U.S. Census tabulations in 1900 and 1910 show him living with his family of origin in Libby.  His listing as “Killed in Action” in Soldiers of the Great War (by W.M. Haulsee et al., 1920, vol. 2) shows him on that source’s pages devoted to Montana’s casualties.  Reedy may have had some association with our county’s economic enterprises — perhaps mining or timber — but such an association does not appear in the documentation we’ve examined.  He was not listed as one of the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining Company’s fallen warriors as that list appeared in The Wallace Miner of  August 28, 1919.  No draft registration card for Austin F. Reedy has been found, and so we do not possess whatever information about occupation that source may have provided.  His burial in Libby and the honorific naming of Libby chapter of the United War Veterans on his behalf of course bespeak a strong connection to that Montana city.  Whatever the reason for his inclusion, the presence of his name in the plaque’s list suggests that the War Mothers group sought to honor Austin F. Reedy along with the fallen heroes of Shoshone County.

Francie Lane sheds new light on Austin Reedy’s possible link to Shoshone County in an email* received September 9th, 2018:

I’ll hazard a guess re Austin Reedy’s connection to Shoshone Co.

Austin was the younger brother of John Patrick Reedy, Jr., b. 1891, who married Pansy Auberton in Spokane, WA.  Pansy was a Spokane girl and John was a resident of Libby, MT, on their wedding Day, March 25, 1909.  In 1910 US Census, John & Pansy were living in Kellogg.  John’s WW I Draft card showed him to be employed as a Teamster for the Libby Lumber Co. in 1917…divorced with two young children…then residing in Libby, MT.  By 1930, John & Pansy’s two daughters were being raised by their re-married mother.  In 1920, however, the daughters were included in the census as residing with their grandparents, Louis & Emma Cossette, who lived in Wardner.  It could be that John’s younger, single brother, Austin, was working as a Teamster between Libby & Kellogg or might have lived with John & Pansy in Kellogg before their divorce; Austin may also have worked in the mines before being called up for the draft & reporting back to Libby.  Austin was undoubtedly recognized as a Libby hometown boy and they wanted to claim him for honors.  Yet, his name might have been submitted to the Shoshone War Mothers by his sister-in-law or her family at Kellogg/Wardner.  (This is the closest connection I could find – so merely a guess.)

* I have very gently edited her email’s text, above.

Readers with more information on Shoshone County’s fallen heroes in World War I may contact me at ronroizen@frontier.com.  I’ll be revising each of the cameos as new information comes in.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shoshone County’s Fallen WWI Warriors – Henry Carruthers

Meuse-Argonne Offensive MAP.jpg

CARRUTHERS-CROSS.jpgPrivate Henry Carruthers was killed in action in France on September 30th, 1918.  He was serving with the 363rd Infantry Regiment of the 91st Division.  Commencing in late September of 1918, this unit was engaged in Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which, according to Wikipedia, was “…was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers.”  The battle line stretched across the entire Western Front and fighting continued for the 47 days from September 26 to the Armistice on November 11, 1918.  (A detailed, day-by-day description of this unit’s participation in this great battle, from September 26th to October 4th — that is, over the period during which PVT Carruthers gave his life — is available in “CHAPTER III” at this online source.)

Carruthers is buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery (Plot H, Row 29, Grave 26) at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France.

91st Division Patch

91st Div. patch

News of his death did not reach his mother, Margaret Carruthers, in Wallace until November 6, 1918.  A brief item in The Wallace Miner, published on the following day, described Henry “Happy” Carruthers as a “well known and popular young man.”  He was a Wallace native, the article noted as well, age 25, and employed by the Otterson company.  Carruthers was survived by his mother and a brother, William Carruthers.  Henry Carruthers, the item ruefully relayed, was “the first one from this city to fall fighting for his country in France.”

Carruthers described himself in his draft registration card as single, tall, slender, with gray eyes and black hair.  Although he listed his home address as “Wallace, Idaho,” Carruthers indicated that he was employed as a farmer by one “J.W. Gates” at the Gates Ranch in Vacaville, California.  The card recorded his birthdate as September 18, 1894, implying that he was killed 12 days after his 24th birthday.

A 1910 Wallace city directory shows him living at 802 Residence St. and a student.


The Wallace Miner, November 7, 1918


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Shoshone County’s Fallen WWI Warriors – Arthur G. Leeson

Wallace Miner - 082819 - LEESON.jpg

Arthur G. Leeson posed special difficulties for this project.  All the usual sources — draft card registration records, Army transport records, WWI military death lists, and the like — turned up nothing.  I did find the draft card for an Arthur J. Leeson, but he lived in Illinois at the time of his registration.  The only item I found relating to Arthur G. Leeson’s military service and sacrifice turned up in a brief article in The Wallace Miner of August 28, 1919 (shown left).  It announced the publication of a memorial edition of the Bunker Bullion, an inhouse publication at the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining Co., listing the names of company employees who had lost their lives during the recently concluded war.  (It’s notable, incidentally, that of the 17 names the article listed only one, a C.B. Bussell, did not also appear on the War Mothers Plaque in Wallace.)  With only this source in hand, I emailed Francie Lane, who lives in Northern California but grew up in Wallace, for help.  Francie soon responded with a much more informative account of Arthur Gerald Leeson, including why my searches had come up with so little — he served in Canada’s, not America’s, WWI expeditionary forces.  The following summarizes what she kindly sent.  (Once again, many thanks, Francie!)

Arthur Gerald Leeson very likely immigrated from England; lived in Alaska for a short time; and had a wife and children in Danville, Contra Costa County, California.   His Canadian military papers indicated his occupation as a mining assayer.

Leeson was born at Blackheath, near London, England, on August 24, 1870.  He emigrated to USA from White Horse, Yukon Territory, Canada on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad.  On August 17, 1908, he filed “Declaration of Intention” for U.S. Citizenship, stating he was 37 years old (although on that date he would have been a week away from his 39th birthday); his occupation, “Miner & Millman.”  He described himself as having a ruddy complexion, six feet tall, 170 pounds, dark brown hair, and gray eyes.  He was currently residing in Treadwell, Alaska, having arrived at Skagway in the District of Alaska on July 15, 1907.

102_Bn_CEF (1)

102nd Infantry Battalion’s patch, C.E.F.

The U.S. Census of 1910 shows Arthur Leeson residing in Seattle, age 39, with a wife, Adelaide, age 34, and a son Meldon, age 13 months.  The Harvard University alumni records for 1918 show an Adelaide (Marquand) wed Arthur Gerald Leeson on January 1, 1908.  This source lists Adelaide and Arthur with two children:  [Meldon] Gerald Leeson, born January 3, 1909; and Catherine Constance Leeson, born February 29, 1912.

On February 24, 1916, Arthur Gerald Leeson filed an Attestation Paper (#704076) — that is, a document similar to our draft registration cards in the U.S. — for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.  He would have been 46-years-old on the date he filled out this document.  His application stated his current address was Rossland, British Columbia.  His next of kin was wife Adelaide Leeson of Danville.  His birth year, 1870, his “trade or calling,” “Assayer & Miner,” comport with records already mentioned.  He stated he had previously served in the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, five years as a constable and three years as a corporal.  He agreed to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force and to serve in any of its arms.  His term of service would be for one year or longer if the war lasted longer; he also agreed to serve for six months after the war’s termination or until “His Majesty should no longer require his services.”  Leeson swore an oath of allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, etc., etc. and completed his enlistment at Rossland, BC.   He was assigned to the 102nd Battalion, C.E.F.

The Canada War Graves Registers, 1914-1948, lists Corporal Arthur Gerald Leeson of the 102nd Battalion as having been killed in action on October 21, 1916 in an attack north of Courcelette in northern France.  He was listed as a member of the Church of Christian Science.  The United Kingdom’s UK DeRuvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919, provides the following tribute:

LEESON, ARTHUR GERALD, Corpl., 102nd Infantry Battn. Canadian Expeditionary Force, only son of the late Arthur Edmund Leeson, M. A., M. D. by his wife, Alice, dau. of James Fraser; b. Blackheath, London, S.E.; 24 Aug. 1870; educ. Merchant Taylors’ School; went to Canada in 1895 where for eight years he was in the North West Mounted Police; subsequently became a Mining Engineer and went to U.S.A.; enlisted in the Canadian Infantry in March, 1916; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders, and was killed in action on the Somme, 21 Oct., 1916, during the attack on Regina Trench.  Buried where he fell.  His Captain wrote:  “I have lost a most efficient non-commissioned officer”.

Francie noted in closing that Adelaide Leeson was listed in the 1925 City Directory of Oakland, California; she was described as an “Artist,” living at 1525 Walnut (which I note is actually a street address in a residential part of Berkeley’s Northside).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment