Capitol Hill and the 1918 Flu Pandemic Part 4: First Deaths

Updated: Oct 19, 2020


Photos of those who died or their relatives, see below.

The following is a memorial to those who are known to have died of the flu within the first few weeks and either lived on Capitol Hill when they died or had a significant connection to the neighborhood. This memorial consists of short bios and photos of those who died. Unfortunately, photos of many of the victims could not be found. In this case, their bio is either accompanied by a photo of an immediate family member or does not have a photo at all.

Ada Abbott, died October 1, 1918

Ada's husband Edson

Ada Abbott was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in September 1867 to Emma F. and Stephen B. Packard. Stephen briefly served as governor of Louisiana during reconstruction that year. The family moved to England in 1879 when Stephen was appointed the consul to Liverpool.

They moved back to the U.S. in 1885 settling on a farm in Marshalltown Iowa. It was here that Ada met and married Edson Gilman Abbott Sr (pictured), the owner of a local grain and livestock shipping business on August 7, 1889. Ada and Edson had their first son Edson Augustus on June 6, 1890. They had their second son Bennett Packard on November 11, 1892. Ada's husband and father-in-law left for Alaska and the Canadian Yukon to start a mining and shipping business during the gold rush.

The family reunited in Seattle in 1900 residing at 517 11th Ave N. By 1910 Ada and her family had moved to the U-district. By this point her husband was working in real estate and her son Bennett was attending Broadway High School. Around 1913 Ada and her husband Edson moved to Port Angeles where Edson took up operation of hotel. That same year Edson also became a film distributor and set up their son Bennett to start a theatre in Sedro Wooley. Ada Caught the flu in September of 1918 and was brought to Seattle General Hospital by her son Bennett where she died on October 1, 1918.

Mary Helen Simmons, died October 4, 1918

Mary Helen Simmons was born in California (possibly San Francisco) o William John and Jannett Green in 1879. Mary married William A. Shumaker at an unknown date. They had a daughter Jannette in California, circa 1904. Mary divorced William in July 1907 and remarried to a motorman named Edward Earl Simmons on April 7, 1908. Their first son Andrey was born in 1911 and their second son Milton in 1912. Edward became a police officer around 1914 and filed for divorce in 1915 claiming that Mary had deserted him. Mary's whereabouts are unknown until her death. Her only connection to Capitol Hill is that she was living at the St. Albans Apartments (923 E John St, since demolished) at the time of her death on October 4, 1918.

Bennett Packard Abbott, died October 7, 1918

Bennett Packard Abbott, 1912.

Bennett Packard Abbott was born to Ada Packard and Edson Gilman Abbott (mentioned above) on November 11, 1892 in Iowa. His father and grandfather owned a business that shipped grain and livestock to the Pacific Northwest and later started a mining and shipping business during the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush.

Young Bennett, his brother Edson, and their mother remained in Iowa until the family reunited in Seattle in 1900 residing on Capitol Hill at 517 11th Ave N. Bennett Attended Lowell school until 1907 and attended Broadway High School from 1907 to 1912. His parents moved to Port Angeles for a time where his father Edson was operating a hotel.

Edson also became a silent film distributor in 1913 and sent Bennett to Sedro-Wooley in 1913 to start a theatre. Bennett called it the Dream Theatre, it was a combination vaudeville and silent movie operation and it opened in January 1914. His mother Ada came down with the flu in September 1918. Bennett brought her to Seattle to seek medical care. Ada died on October 1st. Bennett caught the flu shortly after his mother's death and died within a few days on October 7, 1918.

Benjamin Stewart Johnson, died October 7, 1918

Benjamin Stewart Johnson was born in Seattle to Swedish parents Albertina and dairyman Conrad Eric Johnson on April 9, 1896. Ben had one older brother named Stewart and one younger brother named Albert. Their parents had their house at 1612 Summit Ave built in 1900.

Ben attended Broadway High School and earned a degree in dairying in 1915 from Washington State College in Pullman after which he joined his father's business. (Oddly no yearbook photos of Ben could be found)

As evidenced by the Seattle Times society pages, the home was socially active. Ben's parents hosted a number of dinners and other social activities. Naturally, Ben followed suit by hosting meetings of the Lotus Club of which he was a member. The official purpose of the club is unknown, but they were known to organize dances and other social activities. The last such meeting Ben hosted at home was on May 6, 1918.

That summer he attempted to enlist in the U.S. military, but was rejected due to imperfect eyesight. On July 15, 1918 he left for Vancouver, B.C. to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France. Specifically the 167th Overseas Draft, Canadian Engineers. He was transferred to Montreal until shipping out to France on September 27. He died 10 days later en route to France at age 22.

Charles Norman "Chuck" Fletcher, died October 9, 1918

Charles Fletcher, 1918.

Charles Norman "Chuck" Fletcher was born in Washington to Annie and Saloon Keeper Charles Fletcher on July 10, 1896. He had one sister named Hazel. In 1900 the family lived in Buckley, WA. They moved to Seattle (U-district) circa 1908. At this point, Chuck's father was working in the lumber industry.

Chuck initially attended Lincoln High School from 1911 to 1913, but transferred to Broadway High School in 1913. He graduated in 1915 and his yearbook quote read: "A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any market." He went on to enroll in the University of Washington College of Business Administration in 1916. He joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity and was elected to the Tyes Tyon Sophomore honor society. In December of 1917, he enlisted in Base Unit Hospital No 50 after being rejected for infantry and artillery. He died on October 9, 1918 of pneumonia while in France at age 22.

Nimmie Owana Hahn, died October 11, 1918

Nimmie Owana Hahn was born in Boyd, Texas to Grocer James A. and dressmaker Nancy Messersmith on Feb 21, 1897. She married Michael P. Hahn in Eureka Springs, Kansas on Sept 6, 1915. The couple had a daughter Pauline Margaret in Carthage, Missouri on Aug 8, 1916. The family came to Seattle circa 1917 to 18. They first lived at 725 E Pine St in 1918 and Michael worked as a streetcar motorman. They soon moved to 1412 11th Avenue where Nimmie died on October 11, 1918 at age 21.

Harold Raymond Anderson, died October 12, 1918

Harold Anderson was born in Seattle to painter Herman J. and Annie M. Anderson on May 10, 1891. He had two sisters, Mildred and Valentine (born in Alaska) and one brother William. The family moved to 127 Bellevue Ave E in 1912. Harold attended and graduated from Broadway High School at an unknown date. He then joined the 14th infantry in Alaska circa 1917 and was stationed at Fort Gibbon. He later transferred to Camp Dodge, Iowa in Sep 1918 where he died a month later on October 12, 1918 at age 27.

William Curtis O’Hara, died October 12, 1918

William Curtis O'Hara was possibly born in Ireland to Richard O'Hara (mother's name unknown) on June 30, 1879. William married to Gladys Sherard circa 1908 and worked as an auto mechanic. The couple moved to Capitol Hill circa 1911. William remarried to Lelia Hawkes, a supervisor at Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company in 1916. He started working as a mechanic for Bonney Watson that same year. He died on October 12, 1918 at age 39.

Evelyn/Ethelyn Shore, died October 14, 1918