Baptist Temple closed its doors for eight Sundays from October 26 – December 21 in 1918. There was no Fall Festival, no revival, no Thanksgiving service, no choir practice... nothing. All churches were closed. As were schools and theaters; all public gatherings were banned.
Fifty one soldiers had succumbed to the Spanish flu on September 30, 1918 at Camp Travis, San Antonio. The flu had been spreading around the planet, sped along by the close quarters and troop movements of World War I. The first outbreak was in Ft. Riley, Kansas in March 2018. Soon there were outbreaks in Camps Hancock (GA), Lewis (WA), Sherman (OH), Fremont (CA), and San Quentin Prison (CA). In August there were major outbreaks in France, Sierra Leone and Boston. It quickly reached Russia, North Africa and India. The flu eventually reached China, Japan and the Philippines.
The Spanish Flu killed more than 25 million people in the first 25 weeks. It killed more people in 25 weeks than AIDS has killed in 25 years. It killed more people in one year than the Bubonic Plague killed in one century. As many as 100 million died in the pandemic that reached every continent; 6% of earth's population. Six hundred thousand died in the US.
Quarantines at Camp Travis and Fort Sam Houston failed to stop the spread of the flu into the city, where there were already several hundred cases. On October 19, city doctors reported 700 cases in a 24 hour period and the San Antonio Board of Health acted to stop public gatherings.
Baptist Temple Church members J.M. Baugh (charter member) and Mrs. M.T. Heck were among the 881 who died that Fall in San Antonio.