Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

SPANISH INFLUENZA GRIPPED ALBION IN 1918

Morning Star, December 27, 2009, pg. 9

The current concerns about the H1N1 Swine Flu virus reminds us of other epidemics in Albion's history. During the late 19th century, it was smallpox that turned deadly, and several Albion persons died of that disease.

The major epidemic, of course, was the Spanish influenza of 1918-1919. This was a dreaded illness that occurred before antibiotics were invented. This flu took the lives of many persons in the Albion area. It cut across neighborhoods, races, educational, and economic lines.

By October, 1918, there were reported at least 300 cases in town reported, with three deaths. The epidemic was so severe that the Albion Public Schools was closed for eight weeks during the winter of the 1918-1919 school year. Classes were extended two weeks into the summer as a result.

In October, 1918, the local board of health decreed that every non-essential public meeting was prohibited in an effort to stamp out the Spanish influenza. That action included the public schools, churches, theatres, conventions, fraternal societies, dances. Even Albion College complied with the order and no classes were held there for a time.

One local victim of the Spanish influenza was Rev. Andrew J. Leggett (1869-1919), who passed away on February 8, 1919 at the age of 50. A native of Peach Tree, Alabama, Leggett was among the first blacks who were recruited from the South in late 1916 to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. Rev. Leggett was in the ministry for 25 years, and the local Leggett Chapel AME Zion Church still bears his name today. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Rev. Andrew J. Leggett.

Have you gotten your H1N1 flu shot? The shots are now being given to the general public.


Rev. Andrew J. Leggett

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - January 1910


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