Editor’s note: In light of the current pandemic, Lewis Long III of Lake Helen shared with us this 1918 obituary of Murray Louise Long, who died at the age of 7 of what was widely referred to as Spanish flu.
Long said the pandemic got its name because the worldwide press was ordered not to report about the illness because it would be demoralizing for the populace — but the press in Spain at the time was free to print the news, and did.
“Thus the term ‘Spanish flu,’ since that’s where the news regarding the flu came from,” Long said.
According to Wikipedia, the flu epidemic of 1918 killed 50 million people worldwide.
Lake Helen victim Murray Lou, as she was called, was the sister of Lewis Long’s father and his Uncle Maynard.
“So she was my aunt that I never had the pleasure of knowing,” Long said. “Her name was taken from her grandfather’s middle name, Murray, as in Maynard Murray Bond, and her aunt Louise Foote Bond, who was married to Robert M. Bond, younger brother of M.M. Bond.”
Long said the physician referred to in the obituary — whose skills helped save the premature baby — was the area’s first female physician, Dr. Vida Baerecke, whose husband was the physician for Stetson University. Long said the two doctors came here from Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Long is not sure who wrote the obituary, but said it may have been a collaborative effort among family members.
The “home by the lakeside” was built by Lewis Long’s grandparents, and is still standing at 105 N. Lakeview Drive in Lake Helen.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic brought the obituary to mind, Lewis Long said.
“We never expected to see the likes of this again,” he added.
Murray Louise Long’s obituary, published in 1918:
It was a glad day in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Maynard Murray Bond, amid Lake Helen’s tall pines, when the birth angels brought to their daughter Minerva and to her husband, Mr. Lewis Clark Long, their firstborn child.
She was a tiny bit of humanity, with slenderest hold on life, and the two homes joined in the determined struggle to keep the little one with them, and by a wealth of loving ministry to guard the flickering spark of life that for days and weeks threatened to go out in darkness.
Their reward, in the growing strength and loveliness of Murray Lou — as everyone came to call her — was full recompense for the early months of anxiety. For more than seven years this life of unclouded sunshine has blessed an ever-widening circle of friends.
As two brothers were added to the home by the lakeside, the house where Grandpa and Grandma lives became more the abiding place of the older sister, and when the call of war drew to his country’s defense the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Bond, the little granddaughter became in even larger measure the light and comfort of the lonely home.
Throughout her native village, and later in wider circles in nearby DeLand, the little maiden all unconsciously made for herself a place, the largeness of which was not fully understood till measured by the emptiness and heartache of the present and future hours.
The distemper which has been one of the crowning horrors of the world war marked this life for one of its victims. All that human love and skill of physicians and nurses could suggest was from the first hour lavished, but without avail; and at the end the hands of the beloved physician and friend who ministered at Murray Lou’s birth performed the last offices as her spirit took its flight to realms where there is no sickness nor night, and where God shall wipe away all tears.
Of the inmates of the two homes, all but one were prisoners of the influenza in the last hours and also on the day of burial; the grandfather only was permitted to stand by the flower-embowered grave.
It was at the close of a perfect day, with the level rays of the vanishing sun almost blending with those of the rising moon. On a sightly knoll in the DeLand Cemetery, with the autumn warmth and glory flooding all nature, a group of friends from the two communities gathered; all services being held, for the sake of safety, in the open air.
The pastor of the Lake Helen Congregational Church, in whose Sunday School Murray Lou was a devoted member and constant attendant, conducted the simple and brief service. He read from the words of the Master his gracious assurance that “of such is the kingdom of heaven,” and that “in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father.”
Alluding to the awful background of four years of worldwide pain and distress, the speaker reminded his hearer of the contrast of these seven beautiful years, so free from lack and full of all that could minister joy.
A prayer followed, voicing gratitude for the gift of this life from the Heavenly Father, and making intercession for the absent mourners in their illness and for the sailor far away on the ocean; and after the committal service silence and the gathering twilight fell like Heaven’s benediction.
— Lewis Long III, born at the old DeLand Memorial Hospital on Stone Street, lives in Lake Helen with his wife, Caryn. His father was born in the house next door to their Lake Helen home, and was also delivered by Dr. Baerecke. His grandmother Minerva Bond Long was born in DeLand. His great-grandfather M.M. Bond spent most of his life in Lake Helen, and his great-great-grandfather E.W. Bond arrived there in 1880-81.