Ohio Genealogy Trails
Washington County, Ohio
Epidemics 


Marietta has suffered from three epidemics in 1807, 1822, and 1823. "Except in these three years" says Dr. Hildreth in a communication to a medical journal, "the town has been uniformly healthy and indeed remarkably so."

The sickness of 1807 was principally intermittent and remittent fevers. These diseases were prevalent up and down the Ohio river for hundreds of miles, and more malignant and fatal at various points in this region of country than at Marietta. notably at Gallipolis. The spring of the year was very wet and through the summer there was two or three rainy days for every fair one. The low grounds were covered in many places by stagnant water, and crops were, in some localities, entirely ruined by the excessive moisture. The elements of disease were all in existence and it would have been very surprising if general sickness had not prevailed. The fever made its appearance in July, and in the following month there was a scarcely a family residing on the bottom lands which was not afflicted by it. The disease carried off a considerable number of the people of Marietta and Washington county, but the number of deaths after all was not large, compared to the number who were sick with the fever.

The epidemic of 1822 exceeded that of 1807, was similar in nature but proceeded from an exactly opposaite condition of the weather. The summer of 1822, unlike that of 1807, was very dry and hot. There was not only little rain but what did come was not accompanied, as is usual in summer, by lightening, that great purifier of the atmosphere, and there was scarcely one strong, clearing wind from the north or northwest, during the season. Hot winds blew almost constantly from the south. The Ohio and Muskingum were reduced by the drouth, so that "they were mere brooks as compared with their usual size." The water was covered with a foul scum, and a green mould gathered upon the rank grass which grew along the shores and down into beds of the strams. Dr. Hildreth's opinion was that "the fever had its origin from the sandbars and beaches of the Ohio river laid bare by the great drought." Some people thought that the disease was imported by the almost constantly blowing south wind. The fever varied from the mildest intermittent types up to the genuine yellow fever. Ague, cholera morbus and dysentery were also prevelant. At one time, within a single square mile containing a population of about twelve hundred souls, four hundred were sick with some form of disease attributed to the drought and hot weather. Dr. Hildreth had about six hundred cases to care for between the first of July and the close of November. The fever was most widely disseminated in September. It first appeared upon the "plain" or higher ground in June, but in July most of the cases were in Harmar, and it dd not become troublesome at the "Point" until August. The proportion of deaths was about one to sixteen of the number of persons affected.

The people became much alarmed as the season advanced and the deaths became more numerous. On September 15th a public meeting was held at which committees were appointed to visit the sick, and supply them with whatever necessities they might be lacking. Upon the eighteenth another meeting was held, of which Dudley Woodbridge, Jr., was chairman, and William A. Whittlesey, secretary. The reports of the committees appointed three days before showed that over three hundred persons were sick in Marietta - a number bearing about the same proportion to the population (two thousand) that twelve hundred to the present. Resolutions were adopted setting forth that "the distressed situation of our fellow citizens and friends calls for the utmost exertions and deepest humiliation," that "we will exhort and encourage each other in visiting the sick," and that, "looking beyond the sword of pestilence to Him who wields it, we humble ourselves before Almighty God, and recommend to our fellow citizens a day of public fasting humiliation and prayer, imploring the pardon of our sins, individually, and as a people, the arrest of pestilence which ravages our town, and grace to receive and do all things, as those who have hope in the Lord." Henry Dana Ward and William R. Putnam were appointed a committee to wait on the Rev. S. P. Robbins of the Congregational, and Rev. Cornelius Springer of the Methodist church, and "request them to agree upon a day of fasting, and if agreeable unite the congregations in its solemn service." The ministers gave public notice that Saturday, September 21st, would be observed, in accordance with the resolution of the citizens' meeting, as a day of fasting and prayer, The service was held at the Congregational church. It was noted a few days later by the American Friend that with the exception of fifteen or twenty who were quite low the people generally were recovering, and that very few new cases had occurred. It was not, however, until hard frosts came in November that the epidemic was stopped. No less than ninety five persons died in Marietta township during June, July, August, September and October of 1822.

We are to enabled to give a mortuary list for three months, nearly complete, and containing the names of some citizens of other parts of the county, who died during the prevalence of the epidemic of 1822.

June 27, Charles F., son of Ephraim Ranger

June 30, Frances, wife of Colonel George Turner

July 10, Humphrey Hook in Wood county, Virginia

August 1, Mary, wife of Elder John Gates

August 1, Abram Seevers (Fearing)

August 21, Hon. Paul Fearing (Harmar)

August 21, Cynthia, his wife (within six hours)

August 26, John Cornell

August 26, Edmund Moulton

August 27, wife of Captain Nathan Bower

August 30, Mrs. Catharine McClinick

September 9, Jonna Lincoln

September 9, Juana R. Bowers

September 9, Mrs. Merriam (in Adams)

September 10, Reuben Merriam (in Adams)

September 14, Mrs. Nancy Bliss

September 15, Aaron Smith

September 16, Major Robert Bradford (Belpre)

September 16, Mrs. Persis Howe (Belpre)

September 16, Mrs. Solniger (in Union)

September 19, Charlotte, wife of A. W. Putnam

September 19, A. W. Putnam (in Belpre)

September 19, Christian Ulmer

September 20, John Miller

September 20, Ann Eliza, wife of Levi Cole

September 21, Justus Morse

September 21, Silas Barter

September 24, Jacob Schachtelien

September 25, Elder John Gates

September 25, Mrs. Mills

September 25, John Drown (on the island)

September 26, Captain Obediah Lincoln

September 26, John Clark

September 26, Sarah, his wife

September 27, Mrs. Deborah Erwin

September 27, Hugh Dixon

September 27, Tiffany Adams (in Warren)

September 28, Angelina Lincoln

September 28, Harriet, wife of Wyliys Hall

September 28, Caroline, wife of James Bliss

September 28, Mary Ann, wife of Jasper Taylor

September 28, Lucy, a woman of color

September 30, Clarissa, wife of CaptainTimothy Buell

October 1, Jefferson Lincoln

October 1, Wealthy A., wife of Richard Alcock

October 1, Infant son of John Kelley

October 1, Mary, wife of S. D. W. Drown (on the island)

October 1, Solomon Jarvis (in Wood county, Virginia)

October 2, Titus Buck

October 2, James Knight

October 2, Manesseh, son of Ephraim Cutler (in Warren)

October 4, Colonel Jacob Ulmer

October 5, Mark Anderson

October 5, Mrs. Polly White (in Fearing)

October 6, Henry Winum

October 7, Mrs. Nees

October 8, Philip Cunningham

October 8, William Judson

October 9, Mrs. Lyon

October 9, Eliza Anderson

October 10, Abraham Sharp

October 10, Mrs. Schachtelin

October 10, Mrs. Lucretia Hempstead

October 12, Jonas Livermore

October 14, Charles Lincoln

October 16, John Brough

October 18, Dudley Dodge

October 21, Henry Murphy

November 4, Lydia, wife of William White (Fearing)

November 27, John Dye Sr.

Jonathan Guitteau and Joseph Babcock, of Marietta, died also during the epidemic, but the dates of their deaths are not known.

 

The sickness of 1823 seemed to be a new breaking out of that of 1822, but, unlike the epidemic of that year, this one was not confined to the water courses or their immediate vicinity. "The spring," says a newspaper writer reviewing the subject, "was pleasant, with every prospect of a salubrious summer. But how sad the disappointment. The sickness broke out in June and pervaded nearly all parts of the west"

The country was deluged with rain in June and July, with very little thunder and lightening and no heavy winds. Every spot that could hold water was filled with it. Fields of wheat and corn were ruined and grass rotted. The low land exhaled noxious vapors, so that people in passing were obliged to put their hands to their noses and hasten through some disgusting spots. In plowing in rich bottom lands, instead of the pleasant odors that usually arise from freshly plowed land a sickly smell would be sent forth. The rains ceased the last of August, but the systems of the people had become charged with miasa.


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