Coal County, Oklahoma
A part of the OKGenWeb and USGenWeb project

Coordinator: Mel Owings

Epidemic Timeline

The following was posted to one of the GenForum mailing lists for one of my lines that I am researching. I thought that it might be of some interest to others.
       David Wolfe
       June 27, 2000
   Very, very interesting.    When a person does genealogy, you also become a historian  and history was probably something you hated in school.  I know--I teach history.  But there are two other diseases/epidemics to consider-- the first was  milk fever and/or cholera.  Lincoln's mother died of the milk fever.  You got it from drinking the milk of an infected cow. And you didn't know the cow was infected until several days after the cow ate the poisonous snakeroot plant that grew in wooded areas. The cow would often die after a few days.  This often happened in droughts when cattle would forage in shaded areas looking for food.  And cholera often affected people at certain times in certain areas.  In southern Indiana during the 1830-40's, there was a cholera epidemic.  And what 'doctors' there were often couldn't distinguish cholera from milk sickness.  In Dubois County we have a small family cemetery (Dillon Cholera Graveyard) where the people died within a short span of cholera.     Secondly, when young children reached their second summer, they often were affected with 'summer complaint'.  It has various names. My mother told me about when she almost died of the complaint.  This was when a baby was weaned from the mother (usually at one year) and began drinking cow's milk.  The cow's milk was raw milk (not pasteurized) and stored wherever it could be kept cool--like in a well, or spring house.  The coolness, of course, was not enough to kill the germs.  Older children would have built up immunities to the milk.  So when you see little markers with the date of the child being between 1 and 2, they probably died of summer complaint. And that was severe diarrhea and dehydration.   Back then, living conditions and sanitation was similar to a third world country of today.  So much for the "good old days!"
       Helen Keusch

From: Bonnie P Harris

Found this on another list - very informative!

In case you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, this might help. Epidemics have always had a great influence on people - and thus influencing as well, the genealogists trying to trace them.  Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to their dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area.

Some of the major epidemics in the United States are listed below:

1657    Boston Measles
1687    Boston Measles
1690    New York Yellow Fever
1713    Boston Measles
1729    Boston Measles
1732-3  Worldwide Influenza
1738    South Carolina Smallpox
1739-40 Boston Measles
1747    CT,NY,PA,SC Measles
1759    N. Amer [areas inhabited by white people]      Measles
1761    North America and West Indies Influenza
1772    North America Measles
1775    N. Amer [especially hard in NE] epidemic       Unknown
1775-6  Worldwide [one of the worst epidemics] Influenza
1783    Dover, DE ["extremely fatal"] Bilious Disorder
1788    Philadelphia and New York Measles
1793    Vermont [a "putrid" fever] and Influenza
1793    VA [killed 500 in 5 counties in 4 weeks] Influenza
1793    Philadelphia [one of the worst epidemics] Yellow Fever
1793    Harrisburg, PA [many unexplained deaths] Unknown
1793    Middletown, PA [many mysterious deaths] Unknown
1794    Philadelphia, PA Yellow Fever
1796-7  Philadelphia, PA Yellow Fever
1798    Philadelphia, PA [one of the worst] Yellow Fever
1803    New York Yellow Fever
1820-3  Nationwide [starts Schuylkill River and spreads] "Fever"
1831-2  Nationwide [brought by English emigrants] Asiatic Cholera
1832    NY City and other major cities Cholera
1837    Philadelphia Typhus
1841    Nationwide [especially severe in the south] Yellow Fever
1847    New Orleans Yellow Fever
1847-8  Worldwide Influenza
1848-9  North America Cholera
1850    Nationwide Yellow Fever
1850-1  North America Influenza
1852    Nationwide [New Orleans-8,000 die in summer] Yellow Fever
1855    Nationwide [many parts] Yellow Fever
1857-9  Worldwide [one of the greated epidemics]      Influenza
1860-1  Pennsylvania Smallpox
1865-73 Philadelphia, NY, Boston, New Orleans} {Smallpox
         Baltimore, Memphis, Washington DC} {Cholera
[A series of recurring epidemics of:}
      Typhus
      Typhoid
      Scarlet Fever
      Yellow Fever
1873-5  North America and Europe Influenza
1878    New Orleans [last great epidemic] Yellow Fever
1885    Plymouth, PA Typhoid
1886    Jacksonville, FL Yellow Fever
1918    (high point year) Influenza   Worldwide more people were
hospitalized in WWI from this epidemic than  wounds.  US Army training camps became death camps, with 80% death rate in some camps.

Finally, these specific instances of cholera were mentioned:
1833    Columbus, OH
1834    New York City
1849    New York
1851    Coles Co., IL, The Great Plains, and Missouri

powered by FreeFind
Updated:  Monday, May 20, 2019 Copyright © 2008 - 2019
Coal County Coordinator

Coal County is available for adoption, if interested please e-mail the State coordinator
Copyright Notice: The creator copyrights ALL files on this site. The files may be linked to but may not be reproduced on another site without specific permission from the Coal County Coordinator, and their creator. Although public information is not in and of itself copyrightable, the format in which they are presented, the notes and comments, etc. are.
It is, however, permissible to print or save the files to a personal computer for personal use ONLY.