People of Allen County, Indiana

Diseases of Allen County, Indiana

TUESDAY TIDBIT: In 1913, 36,710 deaths were reported to the Indiana State Board of Health. Of these, 7,475 were children under the age of 5, most of whose deaths were said to be preventable - from diarrhea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, whooping cough, and diptheria/croup. Source: Thirty-fourth annual report of the Indiana State Board of Health for the fiscal and board year ending September 30, 1915 (Fort Wayne: Fort Wayne Printing Co., 1917). From April 29, 2014 on Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook.

In 1799, John McAllister, Sr., who arrived in America from Glasgow, Scotland in 1775 just before the Revolutionary War decided to import spectacles and established the first optical shop in America in Philadelphia. Read more in Vision -- something we take for granted. What did our ancestors do? by Diane L. Richard published September 18, 2014 on National Genealogical Society blog and Eyeglasses Through the Ages on Antique Spectables.com.

Childbirth

Today, we know that washing our hands is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. ...  Ignaz Semmelweis didn’t discover this fact until 1847. And even after he did realize it, the battle to convince the rest of the medical community wasn’t easy. Copied from Women were dying from childbirth at hospitals. This 19th-century doctor figured out why. by Simone Scully published February 6, 2017 on Upworthy.com.

Cholera

Cholera and Other Deaths, Jul.-Sep. 1849, Fort Wayne, Indiana are on the ACGSIweb site.

The Catholic Bishop Joseph Dwenger survived cholera in 1849 while his parents didn't in Mercer County, Ohio from Pages 39 in The Diocese of Fort Wayne (1907) Archive.org ebook.

Cholera epidemics swept through Indiana and much of the rest of the U.S. in 1832, 1833, 1834, 1849, and 1854. The morning after delegate James Van Benthuysen’s death, the convention assembled, and Mr. Richey rose and made the announcement. The committee formed to make arrangements recommended “that the members will testify their respect for the memory of the deceased by wearing the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.

(Report of Debates, 1:491-93; Public Health in Indiana, Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. 7, No. 6 [1923], 276-77, 284, 290)" from page 7 of 1851 Indiana Constitution history. Cholera most commonly struck during spring, summer, and fall. ... the treatment, at least before the American Civil War, was almost as bad as the illness. Doctors routinely prescribed calomel for cholera victims. Calomel contained mercury, and numerous people died from mercury poisoning or suffered other ill effects from this drug. Cholera epidemics continued in the United States until the early 1900s. As sanitation improved within the United States, including chlorination of water, the illness weakened. Copied from Cholera Epidemics, Ohio History Central, May 31, 2013, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Cholera_Epidemics.

Diptheria

Diphtheria used to be known as the "scourge of childhood." The bacterial disease was particularly hard on young children and often spread quickly through schools. The infection works in a horrifying way, simultaneously poisoning the victim and slowly suffocating him or her as the bacteria grow into a thick film in the throat. For most of history, there was little doctors could do to help someone with diphtheria. Copied from and read more information in How horses helped cure diphtheria published August 15, 2013 on Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog.

December 6, 1894 Fort Wayne News article about the health and sanitation departments complaining about diptheria and scarlet fever in the city with people mis-stating causes of death ignoring quarantine rules trying to stop the spead of these fatal diseases from the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.

April 29, 1899 Fort Wayne News newspaper carried this item The diptheria card was removed from the east Main street residence of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Hattersley and a report from the Indiana State Department of Health listing numbers of deaths, marriages, and births. Prevailing acute diseases were influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis, croup, measles and tonsillitis. Both from the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.

Back to top

Influenza

Indiana had a flu epidemic at the end of 1889 and the beginning of 1890. From Ninth annual report of the State Board of Health of Indiana, for the fiscal year ending October 31, 1890 (Indianapolis: William B. Burford, 1891) a Tuesday Tidbit May 20, 2014 on Indiana Genenealogical Society on Facebook.

1918 Influenza Epidemic

1918 Mayors Influenza Ordinance

September 26, 1918 - the Indianapolis News reported the first case of Spanish Influenza at military training detachments in and around Indianapolis. The city would be infected with over 6,000 cases of the flu that swept the globe during World War I. With a makeshift hospital, outfitted with 300 beds, Fort Benjamin Harrison cared for over 3,000 patients. Indianapolis leaders presented a united front in halting the flu's spread, shop and theater owners complied despite personal loss, and men and women volunteered their services at risk to their own lives. From this first report until the end of November, Indiana lost 3,266 Hoosiers to the illness.  Copied from a September 26, 2018 post with an image of an Indiana State Board of Health influenza poster by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook. The origianal source is titled: Influenza: How to avoid it from the Indiana State Library Digital Collection Broadsides Collection, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, Indiana State Library.

  1. Spanish Influenza hit Indiana in September of 1918. While the virus was killing soldiers and civilians affected by WWI around the world, most Hoosiers assumed they were safe that fall. Unfortunately, the mysterious flu was already on their doorstep. On this episode of Talking Hoosier History we examine the havoc caused by the dread malady and the brave nurses and regular Hoosiers who battled the epidemic. Copied from Episode 7 Spanish Influenza: The Dread Malady Hits Indiana 24 minute audio published by Talking Hooseir History on SoundCloud.com posted September 1, 2017 on Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.
  2. An October 1, 1918 newspaper says Fireman William Rudolph Hilgeman U.S. Navy was Fort Wayne's first victim of the Spanish Influenza while at the Great Lakes naval training station. He was laid to rest in Lindenwood Cemetery with full military honors. From a September 30, 2014 post on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.
  3. July 11, 2017 Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook stated the flu descended upon Indianapolis in the fall of 1918. The city would be infected with over 6,000 cases, with the makeshift hospital at Fort Benjamin Harrison caring for over 3,000 patients in a 300 bed facility.  ... Learn how Indy had one of the lowest epidemic death rates in the nation due to this mobilization in War, Plague, and Courage: Spanish Influenza at Fort Benjamin Harrison & Indianapolis on their blog.
  4. The Deadly Virus The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 at The National Archives includes links to documents.
  5. A 1998 Journal Gazette article by reporter Nancy Vendrely outlined the effect of the local pandemic. It may have been this January 19, 2018 discussion of a 1990s newspaper article recalling the 1918 Flu Epidemic was on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Closed group on Facebook.
  6. Spanish Influenza Deaths, 1918-1920, Allen County, Indiana on ACGSI.org gleaned from city and county death records on microfiche at the Allen County Public Library.
  7. Fighting off deadly flu 1918 survivors share lessons for enduring pandemic today by Michael Schroeder February 5, 2006 in The Journal Gazette newspaper is available online to Allen County Public Library card holders.
  8. THH Episode 7: Spanish Influenza: The Dead Malady Hits Indiana by Lindsey Beckley posted on September 1, 2017 on the The Indiana History Blog by Indiana Historical Bureau.
  9. How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America The toll of history’s worst epidemic surpasses all the military deaths in World War I and World War II combined. And it may have begun in the United States by John M. Barry published November 2017 in Smithsonian Magazine.
  10. August 10, 2018 Amy Johnson Crow Tweeted about news censorship of influenza deaths including obituaries during the WWI.
  11. October 27, 2018 the DAR posted a Trivia question on Facebook: Why was it called the Spanish Flu? with the answer: During World War 1, many countries including the United States and Great Britain enacted laws preventing anyone from publishing news that would harm morale. This meant many people did not know about the flu pandemic or how to prevent it until it was too late. However, Spain was neutral during the war and had no such censorship, so many people first heard about the flu from Spanish news sources. They called it the Spanish Flu even though the disease originated in Kansas.
  12. World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history. - Read the rest at The Deadly Virus The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 - NARA National Archives and Record Administration.
  13. October 26, 1918 - state health officials believed that the worst of the 1918 influenza epidemic was over. There were an estimated 350,000 cases resulting in over 10,000 deaths. All public gatherings were banned during the month. For information, documents, and photos about the influenza epidemic on a national and international level, see The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 on Archives.gov or 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Indiana on Indiana.gov. Copied October 26, 2013 from Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.
  14. 1918 Pandemic Influenza Historic Timeline at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  15. First digital resource explores 1918 flu epidemic - "The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia," created by the Center for the History of Medicine in partnership with the U-M (University of Michigan) Library's MPublishing, documents 50 diverse communities in the United States during fall 1918 and winter 1919—a period when the effects of influenza caused the deaths of an estimated 650,000 Americans (and 50 million people worldwide). See their website Influenza Encyclopedia.
  16. THE INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC OF 1918 AND YOUR ANCESTORS by D. Joshua Taylor on JSTOR Daily blog.
  17. See Timeline: Influenza Across America in 1918 on PBS.org.
  18. Modern map of Google Flu Trends
Back to top

Measles

Measles poem

1913 measles poem in Fort Wayne News newspaper from the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook

In 2000, measles were declared eliminated in the U.S., but dozens of cases are still found on infected people who come here from other countries, from Rise in measles and other infectious diseases has U.S. public health experts on alert by Steven Ross Johnson posted November 30, 2013 on Modern Healthcare.com. Measles are still a problem in some parts of the world and can be deadly from Without Vaccines, Hundreds of Children in Pakistan Have Died From a Measles Epidemic posted May 31, 2013 on Smart News. Still Not Vaccinated? U.S. Measles Cases in 2013 Spike to Three Times Normal by Phil Plait posted December 6, 2013 on Slate.com.

It’s Official: Rubella Has Been Eradicated From the Americas Health officials confirm that rubella no longer originates in North or South America by Erin Blackemore published April 30, 2015 on Smithsonian.com.

Mosquito-Borne Disease

Mosquito-Borne Disease the 20th edition of Public Health Fast Facts a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and United Way 2-1-1 of Northeast Indiana.

Polio

Grandmother's Journal - Strength To Draw From FamilySearch YouTube video

Discovering in an old journal the inspiring story of her grandmother caring for her polio-stricken father gives a woman strength to draw from during a particularly difficult time in her own life and deepens her appreciation for family history.

President Franklin Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921, at age thirty-nine from Whatever Happened to Polio? on the Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog.

February 23, 1954 Dr. Jonas Salk gave the first polio vaccine during field trials to children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The vaccine was produced by Eli Lily and Company in Indianapolis. From February 23, 2016 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.

Jonas Salk Polio Vaccine Discovery Public Domain Newsreel PublicDomainFootage.com uploaded March 26, 2011 by  PublicDomainFootage YouTube.

April 12, 1955 it was announced that Jonas Salk, using March of Dimes donations from millions of people, had developed a vaccine to prevent polio, the most notorious disease of the 20th century until AIDS. Read Sabin and Salk Two Vaccines and Whatever Happened to Polio? on the Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog Salk, Sabin and the Race Against Polio As polio ravaged patients worldwide, two gifted American researchers developed distinct vaccines against it. Then the question was: Which one to use? by Gilbert King published April 3, 2012 on Smithsonian.com A Shot to Save the World on the Smithsonian Channel.

Polio nearly gone, but fight remains The world witnessed only 223 polio cases last year, the lowest level in history and an impressive advance from the hundreds of thousands of children afflicted annually as recently as the 1980s. However, the eradication quest is not over, and the next steps look difficult. Read the rest of the Washington Post editorial April 11, 2013.

How Humankind Got Ahead of Infectious Disease With polio on the verge of eradication, a career immunologist explains the medical marvel of vaccination and the pioneers who made it possible. From Smithsonian.com.

Health leaders hopes to eradicate polio by 2018! How The World Backed Polio Into A Corner by David Oshinsky published October 27, 2013 on npr.org.

Polio could cause minor to total paralysis as shown in The Iron Lung Story by Loretta Chase published March 17, 2014 on Two Nerdy Girls blog.

Survivor of polio speaks at luncheon Area pastor observes fight to end disease by Vivian Sade published October 23, 2014 in The Journal Gazette newspaper discussed Rotary's End Polio Now campaign

Polio discussed March 25, 2017 on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Closed group on Facebook

Back to top

Scarlet Fever

March 8, 1898 Fort Wayne News reported a new case of scarlet fever in the family of Charles Geiger at 2406 Hanna Street published November 29, 2012and September 22, 1903 Fort Wayne News Police Notes reported a new case at 519 West Fourth Street published September 17, 2014 on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook. Discussion about local childhood quarantines January 19, 2018 on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Closed group on Facebook.

Smallpox

On the right is a June 3, 1904 Fort Wayne News newspaper article posted September 6, 2017 on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.

In March 1907, inspectors from the Indiana State Board of Health went to Purdue University to treat an epidemic of smallpox that had allegedly been spread by 2 fortune tellers. Copied from Tuesday Tidbit December 16, 2014 by Indiana Genenealogical Society on Facebook.

In August and September 1893, the city of Muncie had an epidemic of smallpox. The Indiana State Board of Health initiated a quarantine. Copied from Tuesday Tidbit September 15, 2014 on Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook.

It is believed smallpox originated about 3,000 years ago in Egypt or India, and went on to become one of the most devastating diseases mankind has ever faced, decimating populations for centuries. ... No effective treatment was ever developed for smallpox. In its deadliest form (variola major) it killed as many as 30% of those infected, and between 65-80% of those it did not kill were left with scars, most prominent in their face. One third of all reported blindness in 18th century Europe was due to smallpox. Copied from Smallpox: A Vaccine Triumph Storyby by Leart Shaka  on jref James Randi Educational Foudnation. The small pox vaccine was discovered by Edward Jenner on May 14, 1796.

The last naturally occurring case of indigenous smallpox (Variola minor) was diagnosed in Ali Maow Maalin, a hospital cook in Merca, Somalia, on 26 October 1977, from An anniversary worth celebrating by Phil Plait posted October 26, 2009 on Slate.com. December 9, 1979 World Health Organization declares eradication of smallpox. See photo of smallpox immunization devices on flickr of the The National Museum of American History. The Rise and Fall of Smallpox by Jesse Greenspan published May 7, 2015 on History.com states: On May 8, 1980, the World Health Organization officially pronounced victory in the fight against smallpox, confirming that no known cases of the dreaded killer existed anywhere on the planet. 

The first week in July 2014 the FDA announced they discovered decades old vials containing variola. The variola virus, better known as smallpox, cost some 300 million lives in the 20th century alone. Smallpox was eradicated in 1975, thanks to heroic vaccination and containment efforts by the World Health Organization and other scientific agencies. Copied from Could There Be More Smallpox Samples Still Out There Somewhere? The FDA found mysterious old vials labeled "variola" and determined that they did indeed contain the smallpox virus by Rachel Nuwer published July 9, 2014 on Smithsonian.com. The peace gun by Alexandra Lord published August 27, 2015 by The National Museum of American History.

Our ancestors had some strange ideas about medicine. A Cow’s Head Will Not Erupt from Your Body if You Get a Smallpox Vaccination by Dick Eastman posted January 8, 2015 on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Back to top

Teeth

Teeth are often a vicitim of disease, accidents, poor diet and related health issues. George Washington's had false ivory teeth contrary to stories about his wooden teeth. Read more in False Teeth at George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Adult Oral Health Oral Health for Adults by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 2006—The baby boomer generation will be the first where the majority will maintain their natural teeth over their entire lifetime, having benefited from water fluoridation and fluoride toothpastes. Over the past 10 years, the number of adults missing all their natural teeth has declined from 31 percent to 25 percent for those aged 60 years and older, and from 9 percent to 5 percent for those adults between 40 and 59 years. However, 5 percent means a surprising 1 out of 20 middle-aged adults are missing all their teeth.

Thyphoid Fever

December 23, 1899 Fort Wayne News newspaper has a story about typhoid fever possibly in the wells in the brickyard district to be inspected by the board of health and condemned if fever was found. Was on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook

Tuberculosis

On March 24, 1882, Robert Koch, a German physician, announced the discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis. At the time, tuberculosis was the cause of one in seven deaths. While the development of the streptomycin antibiotic in 1946 resulted in an effective treatment and cure of tuberculosis, today it is estimated that nearly one-third of the world’s population has been infected with the M. Tuberculosis bacterium. This poster was part of a public health campaign of the Office of War Information during World War II. Copied from Guard Against Tuberculosis the The National Archives Today's Document on tumblr. Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of deadliest infectious diseases of humans, killing 50% of individuals when left untreated. Even today, TB causes 1-2 million deaths every year mainly in developing countries. Multidrug-resistance is a growing threat in the fight against the disease. Copied September 23, 2013 from Mycobacterium Tuberculosis: Our African Follower for Over 70,000 Years on Science Daily. See Basic TB Facts on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site. In the United States the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases has been declining since 1993; however TB is still a life-threatening problem in this country. Read Tuberculosis TB Personal Storiespublished March 12, 2014 on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page. If Tuberculosis Spreads ... by Polly J. Price published July 8, 2014 in The New York Times newspaper. See OPEN AIR SCHOOLS IN INDIANA in the early 20th century article on IN.gov and Timeline: Tuberculosis in America on PBS.org. How Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion The deadly disease—and later efforts to control it—influenced trends for decades on Smithsonian.com discusses how the disease shaped womens fashion, male facial hair and encourage sun tanning.

Back to top

Other Information

  1. January 6, 1914 photo Board of Public Health - Dr. H. O. Bruggeman, president, Dr. H. A. Duemling, and Dr. J.H. Gilpin, secretary, in The Journal Gazette newspaper posted February 27, 2017 on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.
  2. 1903 - in March the Indiana legislature passed a quarantine law requiring doctors to report all cases of contagious diseases including yellow fever, smallpox, diphtheria, membranous croup, scarlet fever and spinal meningitis to their local board of health and to quarantine the home. Read more in Friday Fact March 7, 2014 by Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook.
  3. Awful Moments In Quarantine History: Remember Typhoid Mary? looks at a variety of diseases over the centuries by Eleanor Klibanoff published October 30, 2014 on npr.org.
  4. Epidemics in Indiana history posted for November 15, 2014 hoosier history Live radio show on WICR 88.7 FM.
  5. Epidemics in the United States on GenealogyBuffs.com
  6. Indiana Medical History Museum - Wishard Scrapbook - a window into the history of medicine in Indiana and an introduction to some of the past prominent figures in the Indianapolis Medical Society.
  7. Medical Terminology alphabetical lists at Genealogy Quest.com/
  8. Two databases “19th and 20th Century Indiana Physician” and “Union Civil War Surgeons” at Indiana University School of Medicine
  9. How Vaccines Have Changed Our World In One Graphic shows how common diseases declined since vaccines were used from PHARMA & HEALTHCARE February 19, 2013.
  10. How Vaccines, a Collective Triumph of Modern Medicine, Conquered the World's Diseases Smithsonian curators present a virtual tour of several objects from the collections that revolutionized public health care by Alexandra Lord and Diane Wendt published September 28, 2015 on Smithsonian.com.
  11. Public Health in Indiana early years of public health science in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the March 1998 The Indiana Historian on IN.gov.
  12. Why is Allen County so unhealthy? Choice Obesity, low birth weight, STDs worry commissioner - March 21, 2013 by Vivian Sade of The Journal Gazette newspaper.

Archive.org ebooks

  1. Home treatment for the disease of domesticated animals ..(1895) - Langtry, Walter. [from old catalog]
  2. Home treatment of the diseases of domesticated animals. A practical work .. - Langtry, Walter - duplicate?

Medicine

Glessco a German Croup remedy found in many cities. DR J A DRAKE'S LABORATORY FORT WAYNE IND photo was formerly on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook. A photo of a glass bottle is found on the Bottles page from Matt's Collectibles AntiqueMedicines.com. Also listed in Biennial Report for ... By Indiana. Bureau of Statistics from Google Play and Meyer Brothers Druggist, Volume 28 page 6 Bulletin For Buyers.

Books

At The Genealogy Center - copied from their monthly newsletter - Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library, No. 147, May 31, 2016:

  1. “Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms” by Helen V. Smith, is based on medical terms found in Australia’s death certificates and information, but the terms translate to the United States quite well.
  2. “A Dictionary of Medical & Related Terms for the Family Historian” by Joan E. Brundy, does an excellent job of describing terms in great detail while including images and further background.
  3. "Genealogical and Historical Terms and Phrases used in Deeds, Occupations, Medical Conditions, and Diseases,” compiled by Lawrence H. Dunbar.  This book does not separate between topics, but lists them all in alphabetical order. 

Back to top

Page updated: