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From: "macbd1" <>
Subject: Re: [Brown Co OH] Cholera deaths 1849
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 09:42:31 -0500
References: <1250423637.164058@rootsweb.com>

> Does anyone know which cemetery the people who died in the 1849 Cholera epidemic where buried?

The first wife of my great grandfather, Clifton McDonald, died of cholera after he took her and their first child to the goldrush of California in 1849. Back in Brown Co. OH, a son of my ancestor, Valentine McDaniel-McDonald b. 1760 VA, also died in 1849 with a life-span much shorter than his father. Another son died around 1830 of unrecorded causes. This makes me wonder today if cholera possibly played a part in all three deaths.

Not much reading is required to learn that cholera scared the heck out of our ancestors in the Ohio River Valley. It largely came as epidemics with peak deaths in 1832, 1849, 1866 and the 1870's but the dying occured in nearby years as well. The scary part was that from the outset of symptoms death could occur within as little as three hours. An entire family might be seen as well one day and all found dead the next morning or within a short time thereafter. By 1849 nothing had been learned about the disease since its introduction except that the population of people had increased and more and more people were being affected.

We know now the disease was caused by a bacterium that, after a relatively short incubation period, attacked the small intestine leading to exhaustive diarrhea, vomiting and great lowering of blood pressure, one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known. It was passed to others via soiled bedding and clothing and from drinking water contaminated by human waste. Those who were fortunate to have a mild case or who received and were able to retain rehydrating fluids, or who had a resistant blood type, survived.

Highly populated cities were most affected. For one example, Cincinnati OH, experienced 700+ deaths from 1832-1835 but 6,000 (some say 8,000) deaths in 1849. One source says St. Joseph's Cemetery there had to place cholera victims' caskets on top of one another due to limited cemetery space during the early 1850's. The situation within the city was so bad that farmers taking produce to town were often required to carry wagon loads of bodies to St. Joseph's on the way home.

Many exited the cities in panic seeking the 'better air' of rural and small town places, having no knowledge of the disease's true cause. For Ohio, only in the town of Sanduskey did I find a case where a mass grave with only a few rough caskets or none, was performed -- and a memorial for the many physicians, nurses and lay-people who came to help exists today. Some or many residents of Cincinnati reportedly fled to Sanduskey (and other places) while 3500 of Sanduskey's own residents also fled. Among doctors from other places such as Cleveland, Akron, Mansfield, Canton and Philadelphia, the placque recognizes "Drs. Banks, Caroland, Follen, Foote, Hughes, Lindsey, Ocheltree, Quinn and Raymond, and Messrs. Bailey, Hindale and Yorke, Mrs. Cowden and nurses from Cincinnati."

I suspect there may have been a small number of cases where people were buried within Brown Co. OH without benefit of caskets but there apparently is no record of such. People buried their loved ones like always, in locally made caskets at the small family cemetery on the 'home place,' at a nearby church or at the new public cemetery located at a nearby village. Some of those in Brown County who are recorded in Beers' history as dying of cholera in those times:

-- In the summer of 1849, the cholera scourge made its appearance in New Hope, carrying terror, death and bereavement into every family. On the third day of its appearance, seven deaths occurred, the first victim being William Purdum. The total number of deaths in a population of 100 was twenty- two. The victims were William Purdum, Thomas Early, Martin Gatts, Sr., and wife, Martin Gatts, Jr., and wife and two children (all died in the same house), Cinderilla Lauderback, Andrew Young and daughter, Wilson Fox, wife of John Stills, wife of Andrew Fox, Nelson Fox and wife and child, wife of G. W. Cotterill, Perry Applegate, Robert Stills, Samuel Whiteman and Jacob Gatts -Jacob Gatts being the last victim.

-- Henry Gates was the first who settled where James Liming now lives, and out of a family of ten, six died in 1848 with the cholera, three of whom lay dead in the house at the same time. (Pike Twp)

-- In 1845, Reuben Wilson, Sr., came, and purchased a farm and built a house thereon in the midst of the thick forest. The house which he built is now the home of Elizabeth Buchanan. He was a native of Vermont; was born in 1795, and lived in the township until 1848, in which year he died of the cholera. (Pike Twp)

-- Robert Kennedy was born in Butler County, Penn-, and settled just north of Hamersville in Brown County, Ohio, in 1811, where he remained until his death. He was a man of strict integrity and more than ordinary ability. He took an active interest in the early politics of the township, and for many years was a Justice of the Peace. He raised five children, viz., Thomas, who was three times married, and died of cholera at the old homestead at-the age of forty years. He and his wife were found dead in the morning, having died alone during the night; James, a retired physician of Clermont County; John C., a retired physician, now residing at Felicity; Ella, the wife of S. B. Smith, and William H., who raised a large family, all of whom are dead. (Clark Twp)

-- in Ripley. In 1828, a college was founded, with Rev. John Rankin as President; James Simpson, Professor of Languages, and Nathaniel Brockawy, Professor of Mathematics. The school was continued to 1832. Mr. Brockway died of cholera that year, which was a sad and is a memorable year to our people.

-- Judge J. W. Campbell was a brother of Joseph N. Campbell, of Ripley, one of the first Associate Judges of Brown County, who died of cholera July 13, 1833, aged fifty years.

There were undoubtedly many others. Possibly someone has additional info? Btw, the last major cholera epidemic in the United States was 1910-11 after the bacterium and major causes for spreading of the disease were identified in the 1870's.

Some sources for more details:





The last hyperlink is a more detailed record for Adams Co. OH, begin p. 371, where public funerals and religious exercises for cholera victims was stopped in 1851, with only those performing internment present.

Neil McDonald

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