By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist
WE ARE LIVING IN TOUGH TIMES AND WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE: Our volunteer team’s philosophy with any aspect of history has been to learn about it from the local level outward. Our ability to relate, empathize, understand, and simply be interested increases when the history is tangible: places, people, and events we recognize because we know them personally. It decreases the degrees of separation even though we are separated by time.
Our motivation for sharing the difficult information presented here is to learn from our history in the hopes that we may feel fellowship through the bond to our ancestors and the people of our community’s past. That through the tragedy of the words below and the way they will resonate right now, we can feel kinship to those who endured and kept keeping on. We are here today because they survived their hard days.
This is just a small clipping printed from the newspaper microfilm at the Cornerstone Genealogical Society. It is a mere snapshot of a much bigger impact felt by our community a century ago. This particular section was printed for our files because the next column over announced the deaths of three Company K soldiers during World War I. What a trying time.
In his History of Greene County, Pennsylvania, Dr. G. Wayne Smith explains that, “By the end of October, all Greene County schools were closed, and parents were ordered to keep their children at home. The Waynesburg Hospital was filled to overflowing. An emergency hospital with 30 cots was opened on October 20 in the Ross Building [where Groovy’s and Hot Rod’s restaurants were later housed] on Morris Street where three nurses and fifteen local Red Cross workers ministered to the sick and dying.” He goes on to explain that “there were flu patients in almost every home at Wind Ridge, with seven ill in one home alone.” Hardest to read is that “at least fifty-five died in Greene County due to the epidemic during the winter and spring of 1918-1919, and scores of others were seriously ill.”
In Green Mount Cemetery, near the brick road entrance off of Morris Street in Waynesburg, is the tombstone of James Albert and Katherine Elizabeth (Summersgill) Holder. The young couple died within days of each other in April 1919, leaving behind their little daughters. All ages were affected from infant to elderly. Soldiers were hit particularly hard due to their close quarters in training, camps, and transportation.
The Holders’ double obituary on the front page of the Waynesburg Republican, 24 April 1919, opens: “Not in this generation, during a single year, has such a heavy weight of sorrow and bereavement been felt by the people of Greene County, as they have been called upon to bear during the past twelve months.”
G. Wayne Smith, History of Greene County, Pennsylvania, 2 volumes (Waynesburg, Pennsylvania: Cornerstone Genealogical Society, 1996), 2: 695-696.
Green Mount Cemetery (Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania), Albert J. Holder and Elizabeth K. Holder tombstone, Section N, Lot 30; read by Candice Buchanan, 2011.
Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 10 October 1918, page 1, columns 3 and 4.
Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 24 April 1919, page 1.