Blog post by Randi Richardson
Few people today have any memory of Christmas Eve from a century ago, December 24, 1918. What we do know of that day is from the local newspaper, Bloomington Evening World. Unlike Bloomington newspapers today that typically consist of four sections with local, national and international news, sports and ads, the Bloomington Evening World in 1918 had only four pages.
According to the news of the day, Christmas Eve in Bloomington in 1918 was snowy and the temperature was expected to drop in the night. In spite of inclement weather, it was reported that carolers planned to sing at every home with a light in the window. It was also announced that all stores would be closed on Christmas Day.
In 1918, the flu was prevalent in the county as it was elsewhere in the nation. Two Monroe County deaths were reported. Elmer Chambers, 37, died of the flu at his home in Harrodsburg, and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Moore, who lived southwest of Harrodsburg, also died. He was only seven years old. James Koontz of Harrodsburg had the flu and was yet alive but in critical condition.
Much like the people today, a century ago families gathered to celebrate the holidays together. Some traveled away from home to other places, and some from other places came home.
Bernice Lanam of St. Louis came home to spend the holidays with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Laman. Inez Lentz of N. Walnut Street returned from Washington, D. C., were she had been doing government work since July. Mr. and Mrs. Ray Wingert were here from Dayton, Ohio to visit Mrs. Wingert’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Davis. Mrs. W. H. Adams was visited by her daughter, Mrs. William Griffey, of Newcastle. Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Foster were visited by their daughter, Chloe Foster, one of Bloomington’s most successful school teachers who was employed in Chicago. J. H. Radcliff, a secretary of the YMCA stationed at Rockford, Ill., was home for the holidays visiting his parents on Third Street.
Those from Bloomington who traveled away from home included Robert Easton who went to Indianapolis to the home of his sister, Cleo. Mr. and Ms. J. B. Green went to Hoopeston, Illinois to visit their son, Lee. Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Thomas were at Danville with Mrs. Thomas’ sister, Mrs. F. H. Chesley. Mrs. Fred Campbell was at Indianapolis with her sisters, Mrs. William Akin and Mrs. Fred Scott. Dr. and Mrs. J. E. P. Holland were spending a week at Milwaukee with Mrs. Holland’s parents, and Mrs. Frank Tyrrell (consider Terrell a spelling variant) was in Deland, Florida, to spent the winter with Mr. and Mrs. S. E. Carmichael.
In November 1918, the end of the World War made headlines across the nation. During succeeding weeks there was often news of men being sent home or to hospitals on trains passing through Bloomington. There was no such news on Christmas Eve., but Mrs. W. N. Matthews received word that her son, “Buddie,” had been ordered home immediately
A century ago the settlement of estates belonging to the deceased was often in the news. On Christmas Eve it was noted that John F. Regester, administrator, gave notice of the final settlement of the estate of Amelia Taylor. W. H. H. Parks, administrator, gave notice of the settlement of the estate of Hiley Ann Chestnut. Nancy E. Adams, administratrix, gave notice of the final settlement of the estate of George Adams. John P. Tourner, administrator, gave notice of the final settlement of the estate of Julia C. Wilson. Sherman L. Davis, administrator, gave notice of the final settlement of the estate of Maude V. Davis. Frank R. Woolley was appointed administrator of the estate of Mary E. Bishop deceased; and Michael Bourke was appointed administrator of the estate of Catherine Pearl Polley, deceased.
There was brief mention that bids had been let to furnish supplies for the county poor farm and a report that the new city hospital, already under construction, would be dedicated in honor of the “boys from Monroe County who offered their lives in the World War.” Seems like the latter, so badly needed in Bloomington, would have been bigger news than it was.
This summarized a majority of the local news in Bloomington and Monroe County a century ago.