Beverly Ann Bird

Beverly Ann Bird

Scott County, Arkansas, USA
Death 5 Feb 1919 (aged 22)
Maryland, USA
Burial Waldron, Scott County, Arkansas, USA
Memorial ID 33129382 · View Source
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The memorial located on the grounds of the old Scott County Courthouse in Waldron lists 13 names of Scott County residents who gave their lives in service to their country during World War I.

Twelve of those were men who died in battle, but the thirteenth pays homage to a woman who made the ultimate sacrifice in altruistic service caring for others at Camp Meade, Maryland.

Beverly Ann Bird, who was a graduate of the nursing school of what was to become the University of Arkansas and had spent time as a teacher in the Waldron School district, "answered the call of the American Red Cross at the end of 1918 when a flu epidemic that gripped Camp Meade resulted in open recruitment of nurses across the country.

Bird had been born in December 1896 and was the fourth of five children listed in the 1900 census of Hickman township in the household of her parents, John and Sarah (Taff) Bird. John Bird had been born in July of 1866 in Georgia, having relocated to the state sometime after the Civil War, while Sarah Taff Bird was a member of a pioneering family that was listed as far back as the 1860 census.

Beverly Bird, her parents, brothers Walter, Lester and Vester and sisters Mellie and Norine were living in dwelling 305/313 in the Hickman township when the 1901 census was enumerated,with all of the children in the household attending area schools over the years.

Upon high school graduation, Beverly Bird shifted her studies to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. In a 1921 listing in the "Annual" for and about American nurses, Bird is listed among others that lost their life to natural causes while treating soldiers during various pandemics.

The first cases of influenza in Maryland appeared at Camp Meade on September 17th., 1918. As the death rate from influenza rose, military officials began equating influenza deaths with those on the battlefield.

Weekly memorial services for those who died during the pandemic at Camp Meade was held and the presiding officer read the names of each dead soldier. As each name was read, a sergeant saluted and said "Died on the field of honor, sir."

By September 28th, when the state filed its first official report with the Public Health Service, state officials believed that there were 1,713 cases in the state.

The real number, however, was probably much higher. By October 12th, state officials were reporting 24,300 cases. By mid-October, there were so many cases that state officials were unable to file a report.

On November 16th, the number of cases had dropped to 4,929 and state officials were better able to provide reports to the Public Health Service. The PHS believed that the epidemic in Maryland had traveled along the state's transportation networks.

A little later, a call went out for nurses to attend the growing number of cases, and Bird was among the nurses that responded by volunteering for service. The epidemic had spread to nearby Baltimore and neighboring towns and county's by late November.

Accordingly, residents through the area were infected with influenza. Milkmen, firefighters, telephone operators, and even gravediggers failed to report for work.

Deaths went unrecorded as the city workers who processed death certificates were out sick. Funeral homes overflowed and bodies began to be stacked up outside these buildings.

The city's hospitals were overwhelmed. At Johns Hopkins Hospital, influenza patients occupied six full wards. Ultimately, the hospital was forced to close its doors altogether. Three staff physicians, three medical students and six nurses died in the epidemic.

In was into this environment, which raged in the Camp Meade hospital as well, that Bird injected herself, working tirelessly in an effort to help stem the tide of the deadly disease. Tragically, Bird herself was stricken with the deadly flu in the early days of 1919 and lingered for almost a month before succumbing to the ravages of the flu on February 5, 1919.

An obituary in the February 13 edition of the "Advance Reporter read as follows under the headline "Mary Ann Bird, Red Cross Nurse, Dies at Camp Meade":

"Miss Ann Bird, age 22, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. John A. Bird of Waldron, died at Camp Meade, Maryland, Wednesday Feb 5, Miss Bird volunteered as a Red Cross nurse some months ago and having an urgent call from Camp Meade on account of the influenza epidemic, she went there Dec. 30. After rendering invaluable service there as a nurse she at last succumbed, herself, to the disease. Her sister, Miss Nell, at that time was devoting her time to the care of the soldier boys at Camp Jackson, S.C. But on being notified of the illness of Miss Ann at Camp meade, she hastened to her bedside and there remained to the end.

The body arrived at Waldron Tuesday 11th. The casket was draped with a large beautiful flag of her country, in whose heroic service she made the great sacrifice.

Funeral services were conducted at Birdsview Cemetery Wednesday afternoon, Revs. Johnson and Roberts officiating. A large number of friends accompanied the remains to the final resting place.

Many and large beautiful floral tributes were bestowed by the hands of loving friends in the memory of the purity and beautiful Christian character of the deceased.

Active pallbearers (soldiers in uniform) were: Kelly May, Elmer Pitts, Clarence Vise, Malcolmb Bird, Morris Harvey, Dewey Hon.

Greater love hath no man that this, that he lay down his life for his or her friends. The that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

She rests in peace, he labors ended."

Many Scott County heroes gave their life on battle grounds in the various wars that have touched our nation, but only one gave her life in service to rendering medical aid to the soldiers that fought the battles.

For her sacrifice, Beverly Ann Bird encompassed the essence of what makes a true American hero.

Family Members



Died in service - Base Hospital - Camp Meade, Baltimore, Maryland

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  • Created by: Suzanna Ashworth
  • Added: 21 Jan 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 33129382
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Beverly Ann Bird (Dec 1896–5 Feb 1919), Find a Grave Memorial no. 33129382, citing Birdsview Cemetery, Waldron, Scott County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Suzanna Ashworth (contributor 46819784) .