Epidemic 1809 and 1812/13 Upper canada

Epidemic 1809 and 1812 - 1813

Upper Canada (Ontario)

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Records of the Bay of Quinte

Why I am Interested In This Topic
Robynne Healey, in her book "From Quaker to Upper Canadian" mentioned a severe epidemic in 1809 and again in 1812/13 in the Quaker community of Yonge Street Meeting. I have noticed other references of "fever" around the Bay of Quinte region at this time and have wondered if they are all part of the same epidemic. Apparently little is known of the causes.
Please contact me if you know more about this sad story so that this page can be kept current.

From Quaker to Upper Canadian, Faith and Community Among Yonge Street Friends, 1801-1850, Robynne Rogers Healey, McGill-Queens Press, 2006

"Spotted fever" is suggested as another possibility breaking out in Quebec and Vermont in the years preceeding 1813.  The authors state that it may be typhus or bacterial meningitis. The authors provide this on line source.
Source: Col William Marsh, Vermont Patriot & Loyalist, Jennifer and Wilson Brown, Tiger Rock Press, 2013

Yonge St Quaker Community
Healey writes that "no one knows exactly what disease swept through Yonge St and Pickering in 1809."  The journal of Timothy Rogers records that 30 Quakers known to him died. "Timothy lost 5 daughters, 2 sons, a son in law and 3 grandchildren" sending his wife into understandable depression. The losses were so numerous that the Quaker community at Yonge St decided to make their new meeting house smaller than planned.
Source: Healey, 43 - 44. The Journal of Timothy Rogers, The Journal of Wing Rogers and the Jacob Winn file can be seen at the Quaker Archives of Canada.

West Lake Quaker Community

When Thomas Bowerman was returning from Montreal after leaving with? raft, he died at Kingston with Typhus (probably typhoid) fever – Gideon was with him;  He came home sick and died at Cornelius Blount’s – His sister Lydia Blount took the fever and died about the same time.  They are buried on the “Hill” The family knew nothing of Tho’s sickness and death until they brought him home.  A man on horse back went ahead, when the procession was about at Bloomfield, and told his widow & family.  After their death Cornelius Blount was alone and he sent for Daniel Leavens & Jane who came out & lived with them for sometime until after he married Phebe Stephenson. [64b]

Early in the season of 1810, Thomas and his brother Gideon went to Quebec with a raft. On the return, Thomas was taken ill at Kingston of “ship-fever”, where he died. Concerning his unfortunate death at the age of 50, no details are known save that he died away from the home he had erected and the family that he cherished. No tidings of his illness had reached his family and the imagination may be left to picture the consternation of that devoted group when a messenger approached on horse-back with the information that the little cortege was already nearing the house. He was buried in the Friends–Burial–Ground near the log–meeting–house on “Bowerman’s Hill”.  [68]

Gideon Bowerman – son of Ichabod and Jane – born 22 nd Jan. 1776; died at the house of Cornelius Blount on the 29 th May 1811. 1810? of “ship-fever” contracted during a rafting voyage to Quebec with his brother Thomas Bowerman, as already stated. He was buried on “Bowerman’s Hill” near the grave of his sister Lydia, probably, though she was not then dead, nor is the grave of Gideon marked. Gideon was not married.
            ...... his property was divided among Gideon’s relatives and as a lasting memorial to his generosity, in nearly every family occurs the name of a son or grand-son to his memory. Among the heir-looms left by him is an old double-cased Eng. watch, bought at Quebec during one of the rafting voyages, in the year 1800; that watch is still in good preservation, although “out of time” for a good many years. A small oval tin box also exists, which Gideon used as a primitive “safe-deposit” for his gold, which he brought home from his voyages. For many years after his death this box was used by Eleanor Bowerman as a tea-canister. ......
Note – Those who died from “ship-fever” at this time were – as stated, Thos. Bowerman, 28 th Aug. 1810;- Lydia Blount. 13 th Feb. 1811;- Phebe, dau. of Thomas, 20 th May 1811;- Gideon, 29 th May 1811, at house of Cornelius Blount. Stephen White, son of Wm. and Hannah, aet. 25, about same time. Also one Wm. White, son of Nathaniel of what family is not known. (All at same epidemic). [81, 82]

Phebe (V Thos IV Ich & Jane) Bowerman – born at the “old log house”, big white house, 18th Aug. 1797, died 20th May 1811, one of the victims of the “Ship-fever” epidemic of that year [89]
Source: The Bowerman Family of Canada, Albert C Bowerman,1904, Marion Cronk Fonds, Canadian Quaker Archives, Folder 5-4-6. Transcribed from the digital images that are in folder 1.0, Images 64b, 68, 81, 82, 89

Thomas Bowerman, son of Ichabod Bowerman and Jane Richmond, died 1810.  Having gone to Quebec with a raft of oak staves, he was taken ill on his return journey with fever and died at Kingston.  His body was brought home and buried in the cemetry on Bowerman’s Hill.
Source:  Unpublished notes of Albert C Bowerman, Marion Cronk Fonds, Canadian Quaker Archives, Folder 5-5. Transcribed from the digital images that are in folder 1.0, Image 69

1819 Medical Account
An interesting book about medical practice in early Upper Canada.
Medical Topography of Upper Canada, by John Douglas, 1819

1832 Cholera Epidemic
This well documented epidemic is not to be confused with the above records.
(III) Moses O'Neil mar. Nancy Wilkins, of “Carrying Place”.  She died in the cholera epidemic of 1834, and was buried in the Meth. burial ground in Picton.  (no issue)-
The Bowerman Family of Canada, Albert C Bowerman,1904, Marion Cronk Fonds, Canadian Quaker Archives, Folder 5-4-6. Transcribed from the digital images that are in folder 1.0, Image 162

1854 - another account
June 11, 1854    We have had a mild winter, tho a wet but mild spring  Many have been disappointed in getting in their crop, for the past 2 weeks the weather has been favorable  times are considered good  flour worth  $8  Rye 4/--peas 4/6 oats 2/6 – the prospect of wheat is poor & of Rye Medling a pretty general time of health a kind of typhoid fever has prevailed thr?? The last fall & winter, in & about Bellville & this ???  Many deaths have occurred  Gilbert Noxan in Novre,  Gilbert Mathew in March,  Eliza Ann Foster in December18,  Milton? William in January 31 & others in Demorestville ___ I have been sick of Dyspepsia & Ague for the last 3 or 4 weeks ___the rest of family in usual health   politicks Nothing __ the war in Europe still continue   The Nebraska bill pass slavery extended In U.S.
Source: James Noxon Account Book, Image 148

THREE BOOKS (all at the Toronto Reference Library)
1. The Cholera Epidemics in Upper Canada, 1832 - 1866, Charles Godfrey, 1968.
"The epidemics of smallpox and typhus which occured throughout the 18th C caused great morbidity but never reached the severity of the cholera invasion" p. 5
Thanks to Cindy Freitag for sending this link with the text of the above book.

2. Early Days on the Lakes, with an account of the cholera visitaion of 1832, Augustus Walker, Buffalo Hist Soc, 1902, V 5.

3. The Cholera in Buffalo in 1832, Lewis F Allen, Buffalo Hist Soc, V4