APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2008-08 > 1219745829
From: "Richard A. Pence" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] 1850s Weather
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2008 06:17:09 -0400
"Elliott, Desta (JCNA)" <> wrote:
> In addition to weather, I want to know if there is a source for
> illnesses or epidemics. Sometimes, I see a cluster of deaths and wonder
> if an epidemic of some kind played a role.
Usually you won't find things like the following in any list of epidemics,
but here are a couple of thoughts based on my research experiences.
1. There can sometimes be a relationship between the weather and a cluster
of deaths. I have a printed copy of a letter my third great grandfather
wrote to my second great grandfather. At the time the, 1840, he was living
in Illinois about two miles from the Mississippi River. In his letter, he
"There has been a good deal of sickness here this year and it has been very
fatal. Three miles from me there died four grown people, the mother and two
daughters and one son, and six miles from us there had also died four out of
one family.... It appears that our country will be more sickly than it used
Then he wrote; "We have had so much rain this last part of this season, I
never saw the like of rain .., almost the whole face of the earth covered
While there is no absolute proof of this, It appears likely that the excess
water served as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and they carried yellow
fever throughout the community.
2. When you see several in one family that died in the space of a month or a
few weeks, the likely culprit was diphtheria, contracted from a bad well.
"Even though today's search didn't turn up any lost ancestors, it was still
a success. Now you know where not to look tomorrow." <r.a.p.>