On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com


There will be partly cloudy skies over the city today. The high will reach 63° with a low tonight of 48°. The Philadelphia Department of Health’s mortality report for last week, October 13 to October 19, listed the number of deaths from Spanish Influenza at 4,597.

However, there is evidence that the epidemic is on the wane in this city. The total number of deaths over the last 24 hours was only 493. For the proceeding 24 hours the number was 606. And in the last 48 hours only 976 new cases have been reported while in the day proceeding that period there were 1,332 new cases. Dr. Wilmer Krusen, Director of the Department of Health, said today “We are convinced the epidemic has been mastered in this city”. Dr. Krusen believes we shall now see a gradual decline in new cases and deaths.

All the city’s hospitals and the temporary emergency hospitals remain overcrowded and desperately need volunteers to assist with the care of patients. If you can help, please contact the Red Cross or the Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania. A new emergency hospital was opened yesterday by the Red Cross at St. Donato’s Catholic Church at 65th & Callowhill Streets.

Even though the epidemic may be waning it leaves in its wake stories of great loss and sorrow. The worst of course are those where entire families have been taken by this terrible plague. One story is that of the Buonamo family of 533 East Rittenhouse Street in Germantown.  William Buonamo, 30 years old, died with his 6 year old daughter Rese last Saturday at Germantown Hospital. Then the Buonamo’s 18 month old daughter Itala died this past Friday. Now Mrs. Mary Buonamo, wife and mother, lies in Germantown Hospital with the flu. She is incoherent with fever and unaware of the deaths of her husband and daughters. Doctors do not expect her to survive.

Another story is that of Mrs. Agnes Zeckwer. Before her marriage to Ensign Jamard Zeckwer, U.S.N., in late June, Mrs. Zeckwer was Miss Agnes McDonogh. The couple lived at 2127 Pine Street and were beginning a happy married life together when the epidemic began. Ensign Zeckwer fell ill early last week and succumbed to the flu on October 15. While caring for her husband Mrs. Zeckwer contracted the disease and yesterday she too died. The couple are now joined for eternity in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Mrs. Agnes Zeckwer


Philadelphia’s people and businesses have exceeded the quota set for this city in the Fourth Liberty Loan campaign. The final figures are still being tallied but it is clear that even while suffering under the worst epidemic in this city’s history our people did their part to go “over the top”. The entire Third Federal District, which includes Philadelphia, exceeded its quota be $25,000,000.00.

The fact that saloons and distilleries have been closed because of the epidemic has not, apparently, stopped the consumption of hard liquor in Frankford. Police in that area are sure that some person or persons are distilling their own alcohol for personal consumption and sale. Police in the 13th, 24th and 30th district stations houses have noticed the rise of intoxicated men spending time in their jails for public drunkenness.