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Epidemics


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:

Date

Location

Epidemic

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

Connecticut, New York,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina

Measles

1759

North America [areas
inhabited by white people]

Measles

1761

North America
and West Indies

Influenza

1772

North America

Measles

1775

North America [especially
hard in Northeast]

Unknown

1775-6

Worldwide [one of the worst epidemics]

Influenza

1783

Dover, Delaware
["extremely fatal"]

Bilious Disorder

1788

Philadelphia and New York

Measles

1793

Vermont

[a "putrid" fever]
and Influenza

1793

Virginia [killed 500 in 5
counties in 4 weeks]

Influenza

1793

Philadelphia [one of the
worst epidemics]

Yellow Fever

1793

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
[many unexplained deaths]

Unknown

1793

Middletown, Pennsylvania
[many mysterious deaths]

Unknown

1794

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Yellow Fever

1796-7

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Yellow Fever

1798

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
[one of the worst]

Yellow Fever

1803

New York

Yellow Fever

1820-3

Nationwide [starts-Schuylkill
River and spreads]

"Fever"

1831-2

Nationwide [brought by
English emigrants]

Asiatic Cholera

1832

New York 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
greatest epidemics]

Influenza

1860-1

Pennsylvania

Smallpox

1865-1873

Philadelphia, New York,
Boston, New Orleans

Smallpox

1865-1873

Baltimore, Memphis,
Washington DC

Cholera

1865-1873

Philadelphia, New York,
Boston, New Orleans,
Baltimore, Memphis,
Washington DC

A series of recurring
epidemics of:
Typhus,
Typhoid,
Scarlet Fever,
Yellow Fever

1873-5

North America and Europe

Influenza

1878

New Orleans [last great
epidemic]

Yellow Fever

1885

Plymouth, Pennsylvania

Typhoid

1886

Jacksonville, Florida

Yellow Fever

1918

Worldwide [high point
year] 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

Influenza

Finally, these specific instances of cholera were mentioned:

Date

Location

Epidemic

1833

Columbus, Ohio

Cholera

1834

New York City

Cholera

1849

New York

Cholera

1851

Coles County, Illinois
The Great Plains
Missouri

Cholera


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