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Epidemics in the USA

Source: Ancestors West, SSBCGS, Vol 20, No l, Fall 1993, South Bend (IN) Area Genealogical Society via Julie Burnett, Sue in Arizona and Judy Nordgren SMCAGS

In case you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, this might help. Epidemics have always had a great influence on people - and thus influencing, as well, the genealogists trying to trace them. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area. Some of the major epidemics in the United States are listed below:

 1657     Boston                                          Measles
 1687     Boston                                          Measles
 1690     New York                                        Yellow Fever
 1713     Boston                                          Measles
 1729     Boston                                          Measles
 1732-3   Worldwide                                       Influenza
 1738     South Carolina                                  Smallpox
 1739-40  Boston                                          Measles
 1747     CT,NY,PA,SC                                     Measles
 1759     N. Amer [areas inhabited by white people]       Measles
 1761     N. Amer and West Indies                         Influenza
 1772     N. America                                      Measles
 1775     N. Amer [especially hard in NE] epidemic        Unknown
 1775-6   Worldwide [one of the worst epidemics]          Influenza
 1783     Dover, DE ["extremely fatal"]                   Bilious Disorder
 1788     Philadelphia and New York                       Measles
 1793     Vermont [a "putrid" fever]                      Influenza
 1793     VA [killed 500 in 5 counties in 4 weeks]        Influenza
 1793     Philadelphia [one of the worst epidemics]       Yellow Fever
 1793     Harrisburg, PA [many unexplained deaths]        Unknown
 1793     Middletown, PA [many mysterious deaths]         Unknown
 1794     Philadelphia, PA                                Yellow Fever
 1796-7   Philadelphia, PA                                Yellow Fever
 1798     Philadelphia, PA [one of the worst]             Yellow Fever
 1803     New York                                        Yellow Fever
 1820-3   Nationwide [starts-Schuylkill River & spreads]  "Fever"
 1831-2   Nationwide [brought by English emigrants]       Asiatic Cholera
 1832     NY City and other major cities                  Cholera
 1837     Philadelphia                                    Typhus
 1841     Nationwide [especially severe in the south]     Yellow Fever
 1847     New Orleans                                     Yellow Fever
 1847-8   Worldwide                                       Influenza
 1848-9   North America                                   Cholera
 1850     Nationwide                                      Yellow Fever
 1850-1   North America                                   Influenza
 1852     Nationwide [New Orleans-8,000 die in summer]    Yellow Fever
 1855     Nationwide [many parts]                         Yellow Fever
 1857-9   Worldwide [one of the greated epidemics]        Influenza
 1860-1   Pennsylvania                                    Smallpox
 1865-73  Philadelphia, NY, Boston, New Orleans}          {Smallpox
          Baltimore, Memphis, Washington DC}              {Cholera
          [A series of recurring epidemics of:}           {Typhus
                                                          {Scarlet Fever
                                                          {Yellow Fever
 1873-5   N. America and Europe                           Influenza
 1878     New Orleans [last great epidemic]               Yellow Fever
 1885     Plymouth, PA                                    Typhoid
 1886     Jacksonville, FL                                Yellow Fever
 1918     Worldwide [high point yr]                       {Influenza
          more people were hospitalized in WWI from
          this epidemic than wounds. US Army training
          camps became death camps, with 80% death rate
          in some camps.

 Finally, these specific instances of cholera were mentioned:
 1833     Columbus, OH
 1834     New York City
 1849     New York
 1851     Coles Co., IL, The Great Plains, and Missouri


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