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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Prayer inadequate medicine for local faith healer

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

The Spanish flu claimed one more victim, Benjamin Long, 41, a faith healer.

He died while a dozen members of his faith gathered around his bed, praying for him.

After someone called in a report of a death, Spokane police officers arrived to find the people still there. One woman was “leaning low over the dying man, talking in a low tone,” while another woman “was going through some form of massage as if trying to revive Mr. Long.” But he was already gone.

The widow told police that Long had been a successful faith healer and had pulled others through “much more serious sick spells.” She said the people praying for her husband must have “lacked the requisite spiritual force.”

The officers said they found a young son was also suffering from the flu, and they told the widow “that the child’s condition was serious and something should be done.” She fixed up the bed and improved the ventilation, “but she would not agree to use medicines.”

From the accident beat: The headline in The Spokesman-Review was alarming: “Woman In Bath, Nearly Parboiled.”

Alba White, 54, was discovered “in a dead faint” in a Japanese bath tub at a Japanese barber shop on Main Avenue.

The frantic proprietor ran out into the street and summoned police, who wrapped her in a blanket and rushed her to the emergency hospital.

White was “nearly parboiled and her skin was almost blistered in places,” said police, but she was revived and spent the night in the detention ward. “It is believed she will suffer no ill effects,” said the paper.

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