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Buchanan County MOGenWeb Project

County coordinator and webmaster: Sharlene K. Miller, CG

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Epidemics in the U.S. 1657 to 1918

Note:  This information was sent to the Buchanan County List by one of the subscriber's, the source is not known, but it may be helpful information 

If you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors seemed to disappear during a certain period in history, it may have been due to an epidemic. Epidemics have always had a great influence on people and therefore the genealogists trying to trace them. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be attributed to people 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

1732-33 Worldwide: Influenza

1738 South Carolina: Smallpox

1739-40 Boston: Measles

1747 Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania & South Carolina: Measles

1759 North America (areas inhabited by white people): Measles

1761-61 North America & West Indies: Influenza

1772 North America: Measles

1775 North America (especially hard in New England): Epidemic (unknown)

1775-76 Worldwide: Influenza

1781-82 Worldwide: Influenza (one of worst flu epidemics)

1788 Philadelphia & New York: Measles

1793 Vermont: Influenza and a "putrid fever"

1793 Virginia: Influenza (kills 500 people in 5 counties in 4 weeks)

1793 Philadelphia: Yellow fever (one of worst)

1783 Delaware (Dover): "extremely fatal" bilious disorder

1793 Pennsylvania (Harrisburg & Middletown): many unexplained deaths

1794 Philadelphia: Yellow fever

1796-97 Philadelphia: Yellow Fever

1798 Philadelphia: Yellow Fever (one of worst)

1803 New York: Yellow Fever

1820-23 Nationwide: "fever" (starts on Schuylkill River, PA & spreads

1831-32 Nationwide: Asiatic Cholera (brought by English emigrants)

1832 New York & other major cities: Cholera

1837 Philadelphia: Typhus

1841 Nationwide: Yellow Fever (especially severe in South)

1847 New Orleans: Yellow Fever

1847-48 Worldwide: Influenza

1848-49 North America: Cholera

1850 Nationwide: Yellow Fever

1850-51 North America: Influenza

1852 Nationwide: Yellow Fever (New Orleans: 8,000 die in summer)

1855 Nationwide (many parts): Yellow Fever

1857-59 Worldwide: Influenza (one of disease's greatest epidemics)

1860-61 Pennsylvania: Smallpox

1865-73 Philadelphia, New York, Boston, New Orleans, Baltimore,

Memphis, & Washington D.C.: a series of recurring epidemics of Smallpox,

Cholera, Typhus, Typhoid, Scarlet Fever & Yellow Fever

1873-75 North America & Europe: Influenza

1878 New Orleans: Yellow Fever (last great epidemic of disease)

1885 Plymouth, PA: Typhoid

1886: Jacksonville, Fl: Yellow Fever

1918 Worldwide: Influenza (high point year) More people hospitalized in World War I more died from Influenza than wounds. US Army training camps became death camps --with 80 percent death rate in some camps

Cholera Outbreaks:

1833 Columbus, Ohio

1834 New York City

1849 New York

1851 Coles Co., Illinois

1851 The Great Plains

1851 Missouri

Other epidemics in the US - mostly in east coast cities:

1813: "spotted fever" which we know as cerebral spinal meningitis--6,000 died.

1813 to ?: tuberculosis also called "consumption" was on the rise.

1842-3: Erysipelas - a bacterial infection that exhibits clinical symptoms of blotches on skin due to hemorrhaging; may become systemic and fatal.