Epidemics in Coles County
©2000, Transcribed by Kimberly Torp

This is a new page dealing with epidemics and the folks who suffered. What is here so far is from the Charleston Courier and are some of the newspaper stories dealing with the 1851 Cholera epidemic - including names and death dates of some of the victims.

July 31, 1851.....Owing to the prevalence of epidemic disease in the midst of our community, and indisposition in the families of the publishers, we have issued no paper from this office during the past two weeks. We hope and pray that the health of the town and country will soon be in such condition, that a returning confidence will manifest itself by a restoration of business in all its various branches. The EDITOR - W.D. Latshaw


Since the issue of our last (12th inst) that dire and awful scourge, Asiatic Cholera, with other concomitants, has been performing a work of death in our midst, which has stricken panic and alarm throughout our own and adjacent counties, to a greater or lesser extent. All manner of business in our village has measurably been at an & during the past three weeks, the alarm through the country being such that few persons would venture into town, unless it were those who were in urgent demand of medical aid. We have been particular in our enquiries in relation to the number of persons who have been affected by the premonitory symptoms of Cholera, Diarrhoea, vomiting, Flux, e'c. during the last twenty days, and find that about two hundred and fifty have been treated by our Physicians during that time, many of the cases being characterized by violence and great malignancy. In nearly every fatal case, if not all, the predisposing cause has been traced to imprudence in diet, and more especially the eating of young potatoes, beans, cucumbers and other like matter. The prompt and energetic administration of timely medical remedies, wherever the premonitory symptoms appeared, nearly always proved successful in curing the patient, and to this alone, aided by the blessings of an ever merciful Providence, may the fact be attributed, that many of our citizens have been saved from the fangs of death by Cholera. deeply as our community Haas been afflicted, we have great cause to be thankful that it has been no worse, when we take into consideration the large number of cases of sickness during the past three weeks.

To our friends at home and abroad, we are at length enabled to state, that the disease appears to have spent its strength on the 25th, since which time we have had but one death in town from cholera, & but four additional cases of premonitory symptoms, which yielded readily to medical treatment, they now being convalescent. We therefore have good reason to believe that the 'plague' has gone from amongst us, perhaps to appear else where. For the information of the public who may take an interest in the mournful record of deaths, that have taken place in this town and vicinity during the pendency of the epidemic, we give the names of all deceased with their disease and the respective date of their deaths, to wit:

Jas. Cheek's child, about one year old, of Cholera Infantum. Died on the 14th July

John Owens' child, one year old, of Cholera Infantum. Died on the 17th of July

Franklin J. Van Deren, Esq., aged about 28 years, Cholera. Mr. Van Deren was the editor of the Charleston Courier, having but recently assumed that post. As a good citizen he was highly esteemed and loved by his friends and acquaintances. Mr. Van Deren was attacked by the premonitory symptoms some two weeks previously, but had been relieved by medical aid. Two days preceding his death, he went to his mother's residence, distance some eight miles from town, for the purpose of being out of the way of the epidemic, where he was again attacked suddenly, and before a Physician could be procured, was in a collapsed state, and died in about eight hours from the time the attack came on. Died on the 18th July.

John R. Merrifield, a hard-working laboring man, was attacked with Cholera on the evening of the 17th, and notwithstanding every effort was made by those in attendance, to save him, he continued to sink until the morning of the 19th, when he expired.

Mrs. Wm. Hart, attacked with Cholera on the evening of the 20th and died about 9 o'clock on the morning of the 21st. The husband of Mrs. H. is now in California. She leaves four small children to be taken care of until their father returns to his charge. Mrs. H's youngest child also died with an attack of Cholera on the 22d.

Benjamin Eaton's infant, 5 or seven months old, from Summer Complaint. Died on the 22d.

Mrs. Alexander H. Perkins. Cholera. Attacked about 3 o'clock in the morning of the 22d - expired at 10 o'clock same day. Mrs. P. was aged about 35 years, and died with Christian faith and fortitude, highly respected by all who knew her.

Infant child of John R. Merrifield, deceased. Died on the 22d from Inflammation of the Brain.

Christian Mock, aged about fourteen years, Cholera. Attacked on afternoon of 22d. Died on 23d, about one mile north of town.

Widow Walker, mother-in-law of James M. Miller, merchant of this place, Cholera. Attacked several days preceding death; died on the morning of the 24th.

Mrs. James M. Miller, daughter of Mrs. Walker, attacked with Cholera same morning of her mother's decease, and expired at half past eleven, same night. These two ladies were amongst our most respectable females and highly esteemed and respected by all.

James B. Harris, Esq. School Commissioner, aged about 40 years. Attacked by Cholera on the 24th at eleven o'clock at night - died at seven o'clock on morning of the 25th. Mr. H. was one of the most steady, sober and useful citizens in our community, beloved by all who ever knew him. His death to our town and county is a public loss.

Wife of Samuel Goodrich, attacked on the afternoon of 24th and died about noon on 25th.

Widow Peggy Grey, aged about 40 years. Attacked with Cholera on the night of the 24th - died on afternoon of 25th.

Walter C., youngest son of Hon. O. B. Ficklin, aged about 16 months. Died of Cholera infantum, near Greenup.

John Cline, Esq. of the Charleston Hotel. Attacked with fever, and during the alarm of last week, was removed to his Father's near Grandview, where he died on Monday last. Mr. C. was an estimable and useful citizen.

Infant of Rev. R.A. Mitchell, died about two miles from town, on 18th July, from Cholera Infantum.

Daniel Skelly's child, of Summer Complaint.

George Axton's child of summer Complaint.

These deaths, including those of the three previously noticed, make an aggregate of 23 deaths, 14 of which have been from Asiatic Cholera. There has been some several deaths in other parts of the county, of which we have as yet had no account. We have been careful in making out this statement to get at correct information, and presume it will be found right in every particular.

A large portion of our population have left for 'other parts'. We think we may now say to them that they run but little risk in returning to their homes and their business. We have good reasons to believe that the worst has come and gone, and we ardently hope we may never see the like again.

==> Since writing the foregoing, we learn that Cholera has broken out in Goose Nest Prairie, 8 miles south of this place, and that there has been 4 deaths, to wit: Grandmother Furry, wife of Peter Furry, who is now lying in a critical state, recovery doubtful, also his son Jacob's wife & child, also the wife of James W. Parkinson. There are several other cases reported at that point.

Charleston Courier, Saturday, August 2, 1851

Cholera Abating

We are happy to be able to announce that this awful scourge, which for a time filled our village with death and mourning, seems to be abating, if indeed it has not entirely ceased. There have been no deaths since the night of Thursday week last. During the interval there have occurred some seven or eight cases of diarrhea, all of which however, readily yielded to medical treatment, and the patients are, some of them well, and the rest better. The greatest number of deaths in town during 24 hours, was four.

The following is a list of those who have been hurried off from among us by this disease:

Stephen Nott

Mrs. Hawkins

Steth Keller

John Merifield

Mrs. Hart

F.J. Van Deren

Mrs. Perkins

Mrs. Goodrich

Mrs. Walker

Mrs. Walker's daughter, Mrs. Helen Miller

J.B. Harris

Christian Mock

Mrs. Gray

The Cholera is said to have broken out in the family of Mr. Furry, living in or near the Goosenest Prairie. Several members of that family, it is said, have died. We hope to be able by our next issue, to announce that it has left this town and county.

These other cholera victims are listed as being buried in the Old City Cemetery.

Freeman Infant

Mathes Infant

Melissa Bechom

Virginia Dare Millar

Mary Elizabeth, wife of Eli Wiley

Dr. Jas. B. Miles

Martha A. Pitzer, wife of F.F. Higginson

John Knoch

Mrs. Alex Perkins

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©2000, Kimberly Torp