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This is a contributing entry for The Spanish Influenza Tour of Spring Hill and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic ravaged the world in a way man had not seen in generations. One of the few truly worldwide pandemics, the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic claimed an estimated 50-100 million deaths worldwide(1). This number is more than both world wars combined. In 1918, Spring Hill Cemetery was one of the primary cemeteries for Huntington, West Virginia. As such, a number of victims from the Spanish Influenza Pandemic are buried here. The Spanish Influenza hit Huntington fairly hard with 200 deaths, most of which occurring in the month of October(2). Even Huntington's Mayor, Leon S. Wiles, perished from the flu. On this tour, you will visit 17 gravesites of Huntington residents who perished from the Spanish Influenza Pandemic. Please keep in mind during the tour that you are visiting the final resting places of these people. Please treat all graves and the cemetery with the utmost respect and courtesy. Do your best not to step on top of a person’s final resting place and follow all posted rules.

Grave Marker of Harry Messersmith

Grave marker reading "HARRY E. MESSERSMITH 1883-1918"

Death Certificate of Harry Messersmith

Death Certificate of Harry Messersmith

Harry Edgar Messersmith was one of the few cases in which the primary cause of death was listed as Spanish Influenza rather than pneumonia. Though he did contract pneumonia, his doctor felt as though the Spanish Influenza was more contributory to his death. Though the Spanish Influenza Pandemic was driven, of course, by the Spanish Influenza, most people succumbed to the secondary infection of pneumonia, making pneumonia an "opportunistic infection". This is incredibly important today, as any future influenza strain that behaves similarly to the Spanish Influenza will behave in the same way(3). Harry Messersmith left this Earth on October 21, 1918. He was the son of William Messersmith and A. Ellen Poore Messersmith and brother to John Robert, Carl Dellie, Chloe, and George Lonly Messersmith.

  1. Spreeuwenberg, Peter. Reassessing the Global Mortality Burden of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. American Journal of Epidemiology, ser. 2561-2567, vol. 187, no. 12. Published September 7th 2018. NCBI.
  2. Casto, James E.. "Deadly 1918 flu hit Huntington hard." The Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) May 1st 2009.
  3. Morens, David M. Predominant Role of Bacterial Pneumonia as a Cause of Death in Pandemic Influenza: Implications for Pandemic Influenza Preparedness. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol. 198, no. 7., pg. 962-970 Published October 1st 2008.
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