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West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Alice M. Young

"Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori."

Wilfred Owen, from the Roman poet Horace

Alice M. Young was born in Washington County, Ohio, on August 21, 1877, to Benjamin and Elizabeth Penn Young. According to the 1880 Federal Census, the family was living in New Matamoras, Washington County, Ohio. Mr. Young was a teamster. Living with Mr. and Mrs. Young were their children, Charles, Francis, Elmer, William, Alice, and Jessie. According to family trees and links found on Find A Grave and websites, some of the siblings were born in an earlier marriage of Mr. Young.

In 1910, the census-taker recorded that Alice Young was living in Wheeling as the sister-in-law to the head of the household. According to a later obituary, her sister Jessie was living in Wheeling, so it appears that Alice was living with her sister's family. She was working as a private family nurse. In 1918, Alice Young was listed as a nurse in Wheeling in the city directory. Alice Young was also associated with Ohio Valley General Hospital, which was located in Wheeling. It's possible she received education and training there. Ohio Valley General began as City Hospital in 1890 in the former Wheeling Female Seminary. It was the first nursing school in West Virginia. It was renamed Ohio Valley General Hospital in 1914. (Howard P. Gamble, "Ohio Valley Medical Center," e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia, 25 October 2019, accessed 19 July 2020,

No record was found of Alice Young's entry into the Army Nursing Corps, but by the fall of 1918, she was working in a hospital within Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina. Camp Sevier was a National Guard Mobilization and Training Camp. It was one of 16 such camps established to prepare members of the National Guard for integration into the U.S. Army. ("Camp Sevier [1]," Fort Wiki: Forts, Camps, and Stations, accessed 26 April 2020,

The fall of 1918 was also a time during which an influenza invaded the United States as it had other countries. Soldiers were traveling among camps and overseas by ship, living in close quarters, and taking no or little precautions to prevent spread. During the war, many people were focused on the hardships created by the war and not on the influenza. Fearing that the sale of war bonds could be slowed by preventing people from gathering, some communities downplayed the spread of the illness in favor of keeping up morale and continuing with war bond parades and rallies.

In Greenville, South Carolina, the influenza was on a rampage. According to the website This Month in S. C. History, the first case of influenza was reported on October 4, 1918, among civilian populations. It infected 1,000 people per day for the next four days. ("50,000 Cases of Influenza Reported," South Carolina Historical Society, 23 October 2019, accessed 25 April 2020,

In Greenville, enough people were sick and dying that the City Council passed a resolution requesting that the Board of Health declare a quarantine. The board refused, with a series of reasons: If children were out of school, they'd carry the contagion into the streets; the board chairman wasn't convinced they knew what the cause of the illness was; factories would remain open; and people would continue to be together there and on trolleys. Larger cities hadn't taken the step. However, local constituents opposed the board.

The South Carolina State Board of Health stepped in and ordered a limited quarantine for the state, and the Greenville health board followed suit, reluctantly and protesting the measures, warning that it was too late, even if the measures could reduce the spread.

In early December, the South Carolina Board of Public Health released a statement that 80,000 had been infected and 3,000 had died in two and half months. In the Army camps, the advancement of the disease preceded that of the civilian communities. At Camp Sevier, the first two cases of influenza were reported on September 24, 1918. Three days later, 519 additional cases were reported. From there, the numbers escalated wildly. The day after the report of 519 cases came the report of 1,000 cases. Seven days later, 2,500 additional people were hospitalized. The camp was under quarantine. (Judy Bainbridge, "How the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic Gripped Greenville, South Carolina," Greenville News, 27 March 2020.)

Alice Young was working in the hospital at Camp Sevier and was reported ill on October 7, 1918, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. ("Flu Kills Four," 7 October 1918.) The short announcement states: "Three Belmont county soldiers and one sailor are dead as a result of the Spanish influenza epidemic at camps. Miss Alice Young, an army nurse, is critically ill of pneumonia resulting from the influenza at Camp Sevier, Greenville, S. C." Her death was announced the next day in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, and her obituary appeared the next day, though her death occurred the week before. She was described as "unusually popular." The funeral was small and private, due to restrictions placed on gatherings by the State of West Virginia and occurred in the Baird home in Wheeling. Alice Young was laid to rest in New Matamoras Cemetery in Ohio. Alice Young continues to be remembered in her community. Her photo hangs in the World War I Memorial in the Marietta City Hall Building. Alice Young is listed in Lettie Gavin's American Women in World War I: They Also Served (Nowit, CO: University of Colorado Press, 1977), in which she is noted as having been from Wheeling, West Virginia, serving at Camp Sevier.

Alice Young's gravestone is engraved with the phrase "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country) from the World War I poem by Wilfred Owen.
<i>Find A Grave</i> photo courtesy Arden and Ginger Wince

Find A Grave photo courtesy Arden and Ginger Wince

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
July 2020


Alice M. Young

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