Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cora Belle

Cora Belle Davis is buried in Palma Sola Cemetery in Manatee County.

I listed her grave there on findagrave in 2006 not knowing she was a relative. Just recently I found a link to her father Charles Luke Davis being buried in the same cemetery. He is in an unmarked grave but he was listed on a death record of Manatee County showing he died in 1939. His mother was listed on the record and I recognized her name as being from a family in Carteret County North Carolina.

I did a little research and found that Charles was born in 1863 to Wittington Davis and Sabra Fulford Hancock. My genealogy software shows he is a 3rd cousin.

Charles's death record showed he was a fishing boat Captain in Palma Sola, Florida. After finding him on the census records for Manatee County I discovered that many of the Davis names in Palma Sola Cemetery were his children.

One of these was Cora Belle Davis. Originally I had only listed her death date, October 6, 1918 because the marker is partly buried in the sand. She has a military marker on her grave showing she served in the US Army Nurses Corps. The census showed she was born about 1895 in Palma Sola, Manatee County Florida. I've checked the online military records, veterans gravesite locators and WWI Service cards and have not found her military record.

From her date of death she could have died in a combat area during the war but instead she died of disease. This was the middle of the World wide influenza epidemic. I found an old newspaper account of her death that was written during another influenza outbreak in the 1990s.

She was a nurse at an Army camp in Georgia when she became sick and died of what they called the Purple Death. She had been there only a few months, caring for the soldiers who had come down with influenza. She was about 23 years old at the time and in the prime killing range of the epidemic. It seemed to search out those age 20 to 40. Today we consider the very young and elderly at risk from the flu but that outbreak got the young adults of the generation, including thousands of US military personnel either in the war zone or supporting it, like Cora Belle.

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