Articles on the
                    1834 Cholera Epidemic
   from the Schuyler Citizen Newspaper, unknown year

The Cholera Year of Rushville
  Mr. Editor:
  In compliance with your request I sit down to write a short account respecting the Cholera that so fatally ravaged our town and country in the ever memorable year of 1834; mournfully memorable to the survivors of that calamitous period who may yet remain alive.  But aside from whom I greatly fear that I can write but little on the subject that may interest your readers whose sympathies are so often called into requisition by the passing events of this day.  For we live in an age of most disastrous catastrophes, and waste of human life by fire, floor and storm, by fierce tornadoes, raging epidemics, sudden explosions, and host of other death dealing agents, inflicting unutterable pangs on whole masses of our fellow beings, and “Tossing to death his hundreds at a meal.
  Our weekly news sheets teem with their heart-rending recitals of such frequent occurrence as almost to exhaust commiseration and lessen sympathy for events of a score or more years in the retrospect.
  And although I, who passed through and witnessed most of the agonizing scenes of that dreadful era, can not look back upon their frightful aspects without feelings of the most melancholy character; still in writing on the subject I can say but little more than that in the July of that ill-fated year, the Cholera in one of its most fearful types raged among us with terrific virulence, sweeping off a very large proportion of the sparse population we then numbered, for our country was new - just settling - scarcely a decade of years had passed over it since woman’s smiles first beamed on it expanse or cheered its solitudes; or the woodman’s axe first sounded in its groves; or the plow first furrowed its prairies; and up to this period our grave yard was almost tenantless, for the few hillocks of unturned earth within its limits; denoting the last resting places of our hitherto departed dead, were but barely sufficient to show that it was not entirely so and to indicated its sacred character.  But the awful devastations of a few short days made it populous, a perfect Golgotha, the sudden accumulation of new made graves showed like a fresh plowed fields, portraying a melancholy picture of human mortality, most impressively significant of the dark uncertainties of life, of its brightest prospects and cheeriest auspices being sudden quenched in gloom.
  Such was the case in this instances. - Brightly rose the sun of Thursday, the third of July 1834.  Hailed with pleasing sensations by our whole community as the precursor of a day of joy and festivity, which the morrow - the jubilant fourth - our national festive day, was appointed to be.  We intended to commemorate it by the First Methodist Sunday School celebration ever held in the place, to which the whole country was invited, and which this was the day of arrangements for, and busy hands were early and late at work making the due preparations.  The young and old of both sexes were at it - piles on piles of cakes, confectionaries and other luxuries were the results of female skill and application.  The youths were particularly animated and active.  The place for the festival was selected and put in order, and everything arranged.  The day seemed to close auspiciously on our highest anticipations for the morrow.
  It came.  But O!  What a gloomy reverse of all we had meant.  The first salutations of that morning announced to our ears the soul-harrowing fact that the destroyer had come, and the Angel of Death was among us.  Two of our halest, robust citizens, Wm. McCreery and C. V. Putman, had been cut down, and the insatiate toe was grasping at other victims.  The two had spent the evening together in social converse.  That they were almost simultaneously attacked and sunk, no more to rise to the busy scenes of life, is all that can be said of their demise.  Before the day closed another, a Miss Smith, was numbered with them, and others had received the fatal summons which, in the following day swept from among us four more to the oblivion of the grave - a Mrs. Withers, James Haggaty, a carpenter, Ruel Redfield, a blacksmith and his child.  They yielded to the stern mandate and passed away.
  On Sunday death seemed to pause in his execution.  None on that day died.  But his gloomy pall still hung sullenly over us, and there was no pause in the threatening horrors that invested us.  The heart rending wailings of survivors for their departed loved ones; the dark presages of what yet might lay before us, portending greater evils; the agonizing groans and moaning of yet other victims writhing in excruciating pangs, all combined to incite intensest terror.
  On Monday the venerable parents {Hugh and Sarah Gray McCreery} of the first named victims, Wm. McCreery, both  lay shrouded in death.  But to them no doubt death bereft of his terrific aspect and had lost his sting,  And the Grave lighted up with a heaven - inspiring hope of a glorious immortality.  They were as shocks of ripened corn, ready for the sickle full of days, devotedly pious, members of the Presbyterian communion, and died but to rise again and wing their exultant way to “Where scenes of love and bliss forever reign”.  Another victim on the person of a Mr. Gay closed the moralities of that day.
  But it would be but a superfluous extension of this article to particularize names unknown to our present largely increased population, or known to only a few, very few indeed, who yet survive the horrors of that period; but in whose memories they are enrolled, and called up by painful reminiscences too deeply stamped for forgetfulness and unnecessary to re-awaken here.
  Yet I can not forbear a tribute to the memories of three spirited youths who fell martyrs to the cause of humanity by their almost unparalleled devotedness to the care of the sick and suffering.  They were Daniel Sherwood, John R. York and William Willis.  All three (particularly the two latter) youths of great promise - pious, intelligent, industrious and enterprising.  I knew them well, probably better than anyone else, they being all studious members of my semiweekly Bible Class, and most efficient teachers in our Sunday School, of which I was Superintendent, and understood well their worth.  The two former were members of the Methodist Episcopal and latter of the Christian Church.  York was an almost unprecedented lover and reader of the Bible, well versed in its contents, and Willis but little less so, and all of enquiring minds, seeking truth in its beauty and love of it.
  On the first breaking out of the Cholera our town began rapidly to depopulate, not only by death but by flight; a panic seized the inhabitants and some sought refuge from it ravages among their more distant country friends; others in encampments in the far off woods - by which many houses became vacated and our streets literally deserted.  There seemed scarcely enough of human left to die, or to feed the rapacious maw of the “fell monster,” (stalking wildly among us “with horrid strides” shaking his dreadful dart) and few, far short of enough to perform the kind of offices of humanity due to the sick, the dying and the dead.  We, however, fitted up for a temporary hospital the two-story frame building now the property of Mr. J. B. Seely, standing opposite his present residence, to which were conveyed all the patients (who could not otherwise be well cared for) to be nursed and attended to under the general superintendence and medical treatment of Dr. Vanzandt.
  But nurses which were indispensable, whether good, bad or indifferent, could not have been obtained had not the three young men already noticed, in connection with a fourth, a Mr. Wilson, who survived (I believe) unscathed, volunteered their gratuitous services for the occasion.
  They were all four on the point of leaving a place in which they had no abiding interest, not a relative connection, or tie of any description to attach them; where all business was stagnant - where death was making horrible havoc, and destruction was staring them in the face.  But seeing the exigencies we were reduced to, their best sympathies were enlisted in our behalf.  Their proffered services were gratefully accepted and they installed in their new vocation, in which they proved themselves in every respect fully equal to its arduous requirements.  - Probably no patients were ever cared for with more sympathetic kindness and unremitting attention than were those put under their care.  Occasionally they were assisted by female nurses, generally relatives of some of the afflicted, who acted a subordinate part with them; in some delicate cases of their own sex they were indeed indispensable.  All necessary provisions for the support and comfort of the inmates of that building, whether patient or nurse, was freely supplied by the few of us that remained.  And as sleeping in the hospital amid the frequent outburst of agony, moans and lamentations so prevalent there, was out of the question for the nurses, I appropriated a room and bed in my house for their occupancy, where two of them repose the four and other two the latter part of the night, which was all the rest they obtained, being for the other eighteen hours incessantly on their feet, performing their onerous duties.  But not withstanding the excessive fatigues they underwent, and constant exposure to the effluvia of the sick rooms, they were induced to expect a perfect immunity from disease them selves.  By adhering to the regimen prescribed by the physician, inhibiting gross meats, hot bread and vegetables, and recommending chicken, its broth and other light food for diet, chocolate for breakfast beverage and a free use of brandy as an antidote.  To this regimen they strictly adhered, except in the article of sweet meats, also included in the inter diet.  The hitherto un tasted viands prepared for the celebration were most of them stored in their lodging room free and enticing, and the temptation was too great.  But my opinion of them is, that they were in noxious in the case, innocent of evils ascribed to them, and might be partaken of in moderation with impunity; but not so the antidote.  Of it I think for other wise, and believe it effects were mischievous.  Although every body with very few exceptions resorted to it, for every body had the premonitory symptoms, either real or imaginary, my self among the rest.  I had heretofore experienced beneficial effects from the use of this recommended preventive in certain cases, and expected to find them in this.  But became very early convinced they were insidious, serving only to check the immediate development of the disease with out unseating it from the systems or abating its malignity, but rather augmenting and holding it in abeyance until it should acquire a force to burst forth with an ungovernable and hopeless impetuosity.  I consequently abandoned its use and gave my views to others.  But not being a physician my self they were unheeded, although melancholy proofs of their soundness daily surround us on every side.
  But to continued.  Deaths more of less were of daily occurrence.  Some passed off comparatively calm; but most part in convulsive struggles and extreme agonies.  I was with them and among them daily to render what aid I could, and hope never again to witness such scenes of horror.
  Young Sherwood died on Saturday the 12th, suddenly stricken down.  York and Willis followed on Monday the 14th.  I was myself at that time prostrate, being attacked at two o'clock that morning.
  Up to this period I kept a regular registry of deaths as they occurred, both in the town and its vicinity, which was continued by the Rev. G. G. Worthington to the end.  It included several deaths which tended to people our grave yard not included in other registries, principally limited to the town, particularly a very correct one kept by Mr. S. Hindman, still extant, and to which I have had to refer in some of the above cases in respect to dates etc., my own having been destroyed among other papers with my printing office.
  The recommended dietetic restrictions were somewhat difficult to comply with, either for the sick or well as the country people, from whom alone the requirements could be procured, feared to venture in with their marketing, and we had to cater for ourselves by sending out among them for what we needed.  I had at the time Mr. A. Boring (who still survives among us) in employ, who served in this way for me procuring chicken, etc. which Mrs. S. and her help devoted themselves to the dressing of and preparing for the sick.  Other families were similarly engaged, and consequently there was no want in this respect experienced, either by the sufferers at the hospital or those at their homes, which were more numerous.  I visited all every day with some refreshment or other, often too late, and the scenes were everywhere soul harrowing to the extreme.  Some anxiously solicited prayer to be made for them; others were under such excruciating sufferings as to render either the offer or attempt inadmissible.  In my own case I do not recollect that I suffered very acutely, if I did I was insensible of it, although I had probably the most severe attack and became reduced lower than anyone else who recovered, but certainly had far better attention.  Our popular physician attended on me for a few hours, but probably becoming discouraged by appearances ( as I was in an unconscious state, sinking very fast) to call in another, a young physician with but little practice, who immediately changed the treatment, and under the favor of heaven I rallied.  He never left my bedside for several days and nights, serving all his patients only by prescription (losing but one in that time, Mr. Tickner, a worthy citizen full of days).  Lawyer Marshall and Rev. G. G. Worthington, (an exhorter and not at that time Rev.) assisted by Mr. Boring, devoted themselves day and night to my case, and with such a physician and such an array of most attentive and sympathetic nurses, under the auspices of a good providence, every possibility of a recovery was assured to me.  After which two more worthy citizens, the Rev. Mr. Jewel (the only minister left in town besides myself) on the 26th, and Mr. Madison Worthington on the 30th, closed up in their deaths the astounding horrors of our cholera scenes.
  J. Scripps {Reverend John Scripps}.
  Note: { } are added by Sara Hemp.

  We stated some weeks since that Mr. Samuel Hindman of this place had kept a registry of all the deaths that has occurred with in the corporate limits of Rushville for many years past, and that we had obtained his list for publication.  We this week give the names of those who died of Cholera in the ever memorable year of 1834.
  The next registry of deaths is for 1841, and for each year regularly after that to the present time.  We believe this record of deaths will be highly prized by our readers and preserved by them as a port of the history of our town.  Mr. Hindman is worthy of all praise for his thoughtfulness and industry in this matter.
  We now give the Deaths in Rushville for 1834:

July  4th: Mr. C. V. Putman, Mr. William McCreery, Miss Smith
July  5th: Mr. Ruel Redfield, child Redfield, Mrs. Weathers, Mr. James Haggerty
July  7th: Mrs. McCreery, Mr. Gay, Mr. McCreery
July  8th: child of Mr. Angel
July  9th: Mr. Ayers, child of Mr. George Henry
July 10th: child of Mr. Barkhousen, child of Mrs. Smith
July 11th: Mr. McCabe
July 12th: Mr. Sherwood
July 13th: Mrs. Dunlap
July 14th: a German lady, Mr. York, Mr. Willis, Mr. Campbell
July 17th: Mrs. Bowen, Mr. Barkhousen
July 26th: Rev. Mr. Jewel
July 30th: Madison Worthington
Sept. 1st: Major Upton

  This list of course does not include many that died in the country outside the corporation.

   Mr. E. H. O. Seeley, now living in Rushville at the ripe old age of ninety-four years, was in the undertaking business when the cholera scourage of 1834 came, and he was one of the few who were brought into close contact with the disease and escaped its contagion.  No soldier for cross or crown did more exalted service than he in attendeing to the burial of the cholera victims, and often times it was a difficult matter to secure help enough to deposit the body in the tomb.
  According to Mr. Seeley's remembrances the cholera was brought to Rushville by the family of a Mr. Wilson, who emigrated here from Maryland.  They came by boat from New Orleans, accompanied by Basil Bowen and family, and on the way up the Illinois River Mrs. Wilson died of cholera.  Wishing to give his wife a civilized burial, Mr. Wilson and the Bowen family were landed on the west bank of the river opposite Beardstown and noticed was sent to Mr. Seely at Rushville to prepare a coffin.  Messrs. McCreery and Putman assisted in the burial, and they were the first victims of the pestilence that was destined to claim more than a score of lives, and bring terror into a community that had never before known by experience of the cholera plague.
  There was a recurrence of the disease in the spring of 1841, and it continued throughout the summer with a large fatality, although, not equaling that of the year 1834.

The Illinois Patriot - Jacksonville, IL, July 12, 1834, page 2
  THE CHOLERA- This dreadful disease has made its appearance in Rushville. By the following letter will be seen the number of deaths that had occurred up to the morning of the 8th inst. We Have had intelligence from R. since that date, and no new cases had shown themselves up yo last evening. We learn, verbally, that there had been sixteen deaths in all.
  This disease has also visited Pekin, in Tazewell Co. There had been nine deaths at the latter places up to the 9th inst.
  A report reached town that there had been some cases in Springfield; we are pleased to learn, by the Journal, that there was no foundation for such report.
  This town remains remarkably healthy.

RUSHVILLE, Tuesday morning  July 8, 1834.
  Mr Edwards, Sir - I have only time to request you to publish the following statement of the progress of the Cholera in this place.

4th July, Wm McCreery
"         Cornelius V Putnam
5         Child of Widow Smith
"         Ruel Redfied and Child
"         Mrs Wethers
"         James Bagerty
6         Mrs McCreery
7         Robert Gay
"         Child of widow Smith
"         child of Thomas Angel
8         Hugh McCreery

Respectfully, H Fellows.
  transcribed by Patricia "Patty" Havens






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