Tag Archives: Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs During The Spanish Flu

16 Apr

Note: Most sources are linked or cited in the body of the text, so that you can read them or view them for yourselves. Those used only for slight reference are listed in the endnotes.

Most days are the same. I get up each morning, have a bowl of cereal or a fruit smoothie, a cup or two of coffee, and then get dressed and ready to go… nowhere. My boyfriend sets his laptop up, and begins to work remotely. At some point, I have an apple, a carrot, and bathe in the sun. Our dog typically joins me, reveling in the remains of the apple and the carrot. Some days, I can’t remember if I’ve had my apple or my carrot, or if it’s the day before I’m recollecting. The chickadees have discovered our bird feeder and bath, and come to visit and chatter each morning and evening. Our cat, Finn, comes running when he hears their call. The big excitement comes when we have a grocery pickup. I order days in advance to get a pickup slot, and until half an hour before the order is ready, it’s a guessing game as to what items will be in stock. After driving to the grocery and back, we empty everything onto the patio. We wipe down everything we need to put in the fridge or freezer and put everything else into a three day quarantine. I don’t know how long it will take for this to feel like a normal practice. Because of cell phones, video calls through the Portal and the Zoom app, and Facebook, I don’t feel too disconnected. Though, to read a story in person to my niece and nephews or go on a bug hunt or give my grandma a hug would be an occasion of great joy right about now.

As I ponder my own sudden confinement and the ways in which my community, state, and nation are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, I find myself contemplating which of my ancestors would have experienced something similar about 100 years ago during the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918. To my knowledge, every one of my relatives survived this outbreak, and it is a point which gives me hope. In the photo below, are my great great grandmother Genevieve L. Paul (in the hat) and my great grandmother Genevieve A. Norris (in the lovely dark-colored dress). I fondly call them, “The Genevieves.” The young girl may be my grandpa’s sister, Barbara. I would love to identify the woman in the gorgeous white dress.

Genevieve Norris, Genevieve Paul,

Genevieve Paul and Genevieve Norris

Here’s what I know about their life during the Spanish Flu:

Doc, Genevieve, and Grandpa

Doc, Lawrence, and Genevieve Norris

On Jan. 16, 1918 in Golden, Colorado my great grandfather Samuel Ernest “Doc” Norris married Genevieve A. Paul. Doc attended dental school at The University of Denver. He grew up in Colorado Springs, as did Genevieve, so I suspect they knew each other from high school or some other Colorado Springs gathering spot. Doc’s mother, Minnie Norris, lived in Colorado Springs as well. Genevieve’s mother, Genevieve L. Paul, came to Colorado Springs after her husband John Charles Fremont Paul died in Washington. The story goes she came here with her two daughters, Genevieve and Ethel, for tuberculosis treatment. Her sister, Lillian Ogilvie, moved here around the same time. A third sister, Inestine Roberts (an adventurer famous for climbing Pikes Peak many times and going missing on her final ascent) lived in Colorado Springs by the early 20s as well. According to Colorado Springs City Directories, Genevieve L. Paul lived in a house on W. Platte Avenue in Colorado Springs. After marriage, Samuel and Genevieve lived there too for many years. My grandfather, Lawrence, was born in Sept. 1919, and then they all resided there together.

Doc was a dentist in town with his own practice in the Robbins Building on

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A snowstorm in 1913 showing The Robbins Building on S. Tejon St. in Colorado Springs

Tejon St. (it looks quite different, but was right about where the Thirsty Parrot was located). In this photo from Pikes Peak Library District’s Stewarts Commercial Photograph Collection, you can see what that block looked like in 1913. It’s interesting, because there is a dentist office in this photograph in the Robbins Building, which likely belonged to C.A. Dennis who was still practicing in the building at the time my great grandfather opened his office.

Advice from Oct 1918 gazetteThe 1918 pandemic was said to have started in Kansas (either in Haskell County or at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas) as early as January 1918. (1) It  reached Colorado by the fall. (2) During that time, the city of Colorado Springs shut down operations in almost the same way as it has in 2020. An article from October 5, 1918 announced the closing of, “all schools and colleges, churches, theaters, moving picture houses, pool an billiard halls and amusement parlors.” It also noted that, “all indoor public gatherings, dances, lodge meetings, etc. be prohibited, and that the public be excluded from all court rooms and be prohibited from congregating in public buildings.” All public libraries were also closed as were the gyms and pools at the YMCA and YWCA. At that time there were four known deaths in Colorado Springs from the flu. The advice at right was included with the article.

Over a month later, a Colorado Springs Gazette article from Nov. 22, 1918 notes:

All members of the police department have been given strict orders to see that influenza rules are strictly observed. Yesterday patrolmen and officers visited all restaurants and hotel dining rooms in order to see that the rules were properly observed.

Another article on Dec. 5, 1918, announced a new regulation issued by the Health Officer in Colorado Springs, which required anyone with symptoms of the flu to quarantine in their home. Unless they were properly separated from others in the home, everyone in the house was also under quarantine. A white quarantine card was placed on the home and the only people allowed to enter and exit were doctors and nurses. The quarantine would end when the person with the flu was moved to a hospital. An article on  Nov. 30, 1918 announced a temporary hospital with extra space was set up in the YWCA building in town. Oral histories from the time recall how people would seem fine one day, and die the next. Check out what Harry Collier says in this one. Reports included new cases and cases of pneumonia, which was the major cause of death during this pandemic. It must have been a terrifying time in a sense. Then again, I can’t help but wonder in an era with so few vaccines, less travel, and so much uncertainty post World War I, if it actually wasn’t as scary to them as it is to us now.

On Dec. 13, 1918 it was announced the “Ban would be lifted next Sunday.” Unfortunately, I cannot see this full article right now, or order it since the library is closed for the exact same reasons as it was in 1918. An article the following day, however, lists rules that will be in place after the ban is lifted. These include filling only every other row in churches and theaters,  no gatherings of children from more than two families, no dances, no crowding around pool tables, no public funerals for those dying of influenza or pneumonia,  and additional notes that people who are sick must stay home and be reported. By Jan. 6, 1919, schools in Colorado Springs re-opened.

While it would seem life was back to normal, by January 1920 the city started shutting down again due to a flue epidemic. Schools closed indefinitely on Feb. 5, 1920, and the city health officer urged residents of the city to voluntarily keep away from, “needless gatherings.” Physicians of the time signed a petition noting that, “The mere advice to the people to refrain from public gatherings is inadequate.” They go on to describe what they believe should happen. Check out the article and note the similarities. It’s fascinating!

An article from Feb. 8, 1920 soon announced that public meetings were prohibited. This solidified the closing of,  “schools, churches, theaters, and the prohibition of all public gatherings, both indoors and out of doors.”

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The house where my great grandmother lived on W. Platte

In order to get a sense of the space my great grandparents lived in during the 1918 pandemic and 1920 epidemic, I drove past their house on West Platte, which is still standing. It is small, only four rooms according to the assessors website. What’s interesting is that there is another small house behind it, which I determined was built in 1920. I couldn’t get a great photo of this second house. All this time, I imagined my great grandparents and great great grandmother all living together, but now suspect one family lived in the other house starting around 1920 until they moved to the house which became my Grandpa’s around 1924.

Like my great grandparents, our home isn’t super spacious, but we have a yard and can garden and sunbathe and wander about. The 1918 pandemic took place in the winter, though, so perhaps they spent more time indoors. Genevieve Paul had already survived tuberculosis (if the story is correct) and must have known the magic of sunshine. I have to believe if it was sunny, then they were soaking it in. She was also a painter and in the 1917 Colorado Springs City Directory she was described as a seamstress, so I like to imagine she was spending time creating in some way. I wonder if my great grandfather, Doc, was getting many dental patients during this time and how he protected himself and his family. By the time my grandpa was born in Sept. of 1919, did they believe they were safe from the flu, or were they bracing for another round? 

  1. Barry, J. M. (Nov. 2017). How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/journal-plague-year-180965222/
  2. (1976, Oct. 10) State Spanish Flu may have started among trainees. Colorado Springs Gazette, A 3:1. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from: http://more.ppld.org:8080/specialcollections/index/ArticleOrders/339056.pdf

Family Photo of the Week: Genevieve Norris & Family

5 Jun

I was looking for something else, when I stumbled upon this photograph that I’d scanned and never shared. I know the woman on the far left is my great-grandmother Genevieve Norris, below is her daughter Barbara. I believe the older woman in the photo is Genevieve Bush Paul, my great-great-grandmother, but it could be Minnie Lee Rose Norris (my other great-great-grandmother). I’m not sure who the younger woman is yet, but possibly Genevieve Norris’ niece Lorraine. Based on the age of Barbara, I would say this photo is from the late 1930’s.

What struck me as interesting is that I recognized the street behind them. I’m fairly certain that it’s a road within  Evergreen cemetery in Colorado Springs. If you look closely, I think you can even see tombstones behind them. I don’t know why they took this photo in the cemetery. It could be Memorial Day or it could be for a funeral that I’ve yet to associate with that year. In any case, it’s a lovely picture of them, isn’t it?

Genevieve Leoline (Bush) Paul

6 May

After being orphaned at 14, widowed with two small children at  30, watching her younger brother die of drug abuse, potentially surviving tuberculosis thereafter, and losing one of her daughters prematurely to cancer, this beautiful lady lived to be 85-years-old. She’s a survivor if I ever saw one, and I couldn’t be happier to call her my great-great grandmother.

Genevieve Bush was born in Smethport, Pennsylvania on August 12 1866 to Hiram M. Bush and Sarah Douglas Bush. She had two sisters, Lillian M. (the oldest), and Inestine C. (the youngest), and one brother Lionel (known as Lee). Her father Hiram worked as a lumberman and a farmer, and according to a very informative obituary written by Lillian for her brother Lionel, the Bush’s owned the flour mill and lumber mill in Smethport for a “good many years.” After her mother Sarah died around 1876, Hiram re-married at some point and the family continued to live in Smethport until his death a few years later on approximately Dec. 14, 1880, as seen in this Dec. 16, 1880 listing in the McKean County Miner.

Shortly before his death the 1880 census shows the entire Bush clan (minus Sarah) with Genevieve listed under the nickname Eva. This is the first and last time I’ve heard her called this. Interestingly enough, there is also a border by the name of Frank Ogilvie living with the Bush’s, who will later marry Genevieve’s sister Lillian.

Due to the lack of census data from 1890, the whereabouts of Genevieve and her siblings is hard to track after 1880, but not as difficult as it could’ve been thanks to the aforementioned obituary from 1898 written by Lillian about their brother, his struggles, and most interestingly the movement of each sister after their father’s death. Though it’s difficult to read, and we must take it’s accuracy with a grain of salt, this article gives many clues into the lives of the Bush sisters and their brother between 1880 and 1898.

According to Lillian, after their father’s death all three sisters and their brother went to Hamilton, New York to live with their “mother’s people” for about two years. Then, Lillian married Frank Ogilvie and they all returned to Smethport for a time and lived with them. In what could potentially be 1889 (it’s difficult to read), they all went to live in Washington Territory. Inestine had married Hugh J. Hamilton at that point, and Genevieve and Lee were the under the guardianship of a man by the name of William Haskell (connection to be determined). Genevieve asked to take charge of Lee, and according to Lillian he lived with her most of the time.

Genevieve at some point married John Charles Fremont Paul (a very difficult man to find) of Oakville, Washington (but born in Iowa). They had two children, Ethel, born in 1892, and Genevieve, born in 1896. Sadly, he died in 1896, the same year Genevieve was born. Family rumor had it down as a logging accident, but on the death index he’s listed as a farmer, and his cause of death was a “cerebral tumor.” We’ll talk more about him someday soon.

Shortly after John’s death, Lee was said to have come back to live with Genevieve, and was looking forward to moving with her and her daughters to Colorado Springs, where she was planning to go in the beginning of 1899 for health reasons. According to Lillian’s meanderings in Lee’s obituary she was at the time of his death in very poor health, presumably with tuberculosis.

By 1900 Genevieve Paul was living in Colorado Springs with her two daughters, along with her sister Lillian and brother-in-law Frank Ogilvie at a house on Colorado Avenue.

She’s listed on this census as an artist, which her sister Lillian had also mentioned in Lee’s obituary. This is well-known amongst our family members. In fact, two of her paintings hung at my Grandparents house for as long as any of us can remember. Recently, we discovered the one above the mantel was listed as a wedding present to my grandparents from her in their wedding gift log.

In 1910, she was living with her 13-year-old daughter Genevieve at a house on 616 West Platte Avenue in Colorado Springs. It’s hard to read what her profession was in this census, but she was working at home.

By 1920, her daughter Genevieve and husband Samuel Earnest Norris (a local dentist, and my great grandpa) were living with her along with their three-month old son, Lawrence (my grandpa). Genevieve is listed as a seamstress in this record.

In 1930, and in the recently released 1940 census she was living in the same house on North Platte, though here in the 1940 census the address is listed incorrectly as being on North Chestnut. This made it a bit of a challenge to find during my initial search of the 1940 census before it was indexed. She’s 73-years-old in this census record, which was taken the same year as the wonderful photograph at the top of this page.

In this photo of her from 1950, she’s celebrating her 84th birthday. We’re not sure who the girl on the far left is, but the other people in this photograph from left to right are her sister Inestine (Bush) Roberts, her granddaughter Lorraine(Essick) Crocker, her granddaughter Barbara (Norris) Shupe holding her great-grandson Bo, her daughter Ethel (Paul) Essick, and her granddaughter-in-law Dora (Collins) Norris (my grandma). The two girls right behind her are her great-granddaughters Vivalee and JoAnne.

She passed away the next year at 85-years-old. Note, the city of Smithport, PA is listed as her birthplace in the obituary below. This is also true in an article I’ll share about her sister Inestine’s death on Pikes Peak. It was only in searching for Smithport, and realizing there was no Smithport, that I tracked them to Smethport where I found a wealth of information about the well-known Bush family.

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