Epidemic Comes To the Town of Sodus


Photo from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


Most local families have stories of grandparents, uncles, aunts or some other loved ones that perished in the great epidemic of 1918 – 1919. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. It was often called “Spanish Flu” in those days. It was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918 and is believed to have come to the United States by our returning World War 1 soldiers.  It was  the most severe pandemic in U.S. history. The following is an excellent overview of the pandemic:



Here are just 2 of many stories that affected our area:

The first story from the Oct. 25, 1918 Sodus Record tells the story of  Neal Johnson who has recently joined the military and preparing to go “Over There”. He is fortunate and survives the flu:

The next story unfortunately ends in tragedy.


Photo courtesy of Sodus Point Volunteer Fire Department

Firemen go to War (World War 1)

When the country issued the call for men to fight in the World War, the following members of  Sodus Point entered the service: Leo Heifer, Carlton Topping, Anson Philo, Arthur Helfer, Alvin Torrey, Victor Raymer and John McMillin. In 1918, the company and the Village mourned the loss of one of it’s own. Fireman John McMillin paid the supreme sacrifice, having died in a hospital in France on August 24th, 1918 of pneumonia (which almost certainly was a misdiagnosis of the flu). On Sunday, May 18, 1919, a silver birch was planted in the Sodus Point park next to the Methodist Church across from the Fire Hall by Firemen, friends, and neighbors in loving memory of his life he gave for them and all of humanity.  The Sodus Point John McMillan American Legion Post 910 was named in his honor. And a  memorial was originally dedicated on May 24, 1929 Memorial Day by the Sodus Point John McMillan American Legion Post 910 with tablets for John McMillan and Delancy Smith. It included a machine gun that was given to the Sodus Point Post as a captured war trophy:


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