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The Worthington House

The Worthington home in Oakley is seen in this early Clarence E. Bisbee photo.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 killed up to 50 million people worldwide. To keep the population of Oakley healthy, town doctor A.F.O. Nielson quarantined the entire Oakley Valley.

According to the Oakley Herald and reprinted by Kent Hale in “A History of Oakley, Idaho,” Dr. Nielson issued the following restrictions:

No visiting, no parties, surprise or other wise are permitted nor socials of any kind.

No loafing on streets or in stores.

Let the children be kept home on their own premises and let the adults do the shopping.

If you have a so-called cold, call a doctor, it may be influenza; you may have a light attack — your neighbor may catch it from you and die.

If you don’t call a doctor stay in your home 3 days after you are well so as not to expose your neighbor.

Our young people should refrain from joy rides until all danger is over.

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No public funerals inside or out will be permitted.

We ask all good citizens to help us enforce these rules.

Because of Nielson’s restrictions, Oakley suffered fewer cases of influenza of any community is the Magic Valley, Hale said in his book.

Mychel Matthews reports on rural issues and agriculture for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at


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