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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Spanish flu, in the wane, claims former Spokane mayor

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

The Spanish flu epidemic claimed perhaps its most prominent victim yet, Elmer De Vando Olmsted, 69, former Spokane mayor.

Olmsted came to Spokane from Illinois in 1887 to practice medicine. He lost all of his personal effects in the Great Fire of 1889, but quickly rebounded and became one of the city’s leading physicians and surgeons. He was the head of the Spokane Medical Society.

He was elected mayor in 1897 and was responsible for paving Riverside Avenue and Howard Street, along with other civic improvements. He was also responsible for organizing the city’s first chamber of commerce. He was president of the State Normal School at Cheney (today’s Eastern Washington University) at one time.

He contracted the flu two weeks before his death and it developed into pneumonia. The Spokesman-Review noted that he was “the fourth former mayor to succumb in the last four years.”

From the crime beat: Evidence increasingly pointed to homicide in the strychnine poisoning death of Rosa Kempf.

The physician who treated her when she first reported stomach pangs directly asked her if she had eaten anything with suicidal intent, and she firmly denied it.

Her sister said that there was not the “slightest ground” to suspect suicide. Her best friend believed that Kempf was poisoned by someone, and suspected H.M. Delaney, a would-be suitor. She said she had known Delaney for some time and “do not know anything good of him.”

However, police were also receiving anonymous tips from Reardan, where the family once lived, suggesting that police investigate her father.

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