Epidemic of death evident
in newspaper articles
One of the most poignant tomb-stones
in this region lies in the Pine Grove Cemetery in
Prince Albert. The tombstone has the following inscription:
James Moon 1819 - 1896 Catherine Mark, his wife,
1830 - 1916 also nine infant children.That's all.
No names, no dates, no explanations, just the stark
statement, "Also nine infant children."
The obituaries in the Ontario Observer reveal a
horrible story. On July 20, 1876, Sarah Moon, passed
away. She was only five years old. Less than two
months later, on September 7, the death of Susan
Moon, age 16 years, seven months and seven days
was recorded. Two weeks later, Maria Moon, four
years old, died.
The tragic story behind these untimely deaths is
to be found in the history of epidemics. In the
fall of 1873 typhoid fever made its appearance in
New York City. From there, the disease spread throughout
the city and became an epidemic.
It then began its perilous journey throughout North
America. Death notices which appeared in the newspapers
rarely gave the cause of death. In the obituaries,
the cause of death was given on some occasions but
families and the press were reluctant to report
typhoid as the cause of death largely because of
the implications of having a family member die of
a communicable disease.
The death certificates signed by the coroners,
however, could not hide the extent of the epidemic.
Dr. Ware in Prince Albert, Dr. Richard Jones in
Port Perry and Dr. Montgomery in Blackstock were
kept extremely busy fulfilling their duties.
The Typhoid epidemic of 1873 did not appear in
Reach and Cartwright until 1874, reaching its height
in 1875. In the months of January and February 1875,
those who succumbed were among the adult population.
The Ontario Observer, the newspaper which served
Reach and Cartwright townships at the time was a
weekly paper. Normally there would be three or four
death notices scattered throughout a month's issues
of the newspaper. During 1874, 75 and 76, it was
not unusual to see that many in a week!
It should also be noted that during the epidemic,
many families never bothered to announce the deaths
of their relatives, particularly of their children.
One of the worst and most destructive epidemics
ever to face humanity was the influenza epidemic
of 1918. Its devastation has been placed in the
same category as the Black Death. It has been estimated
that more than twenty million people perished as
a result of this disease.
Typhoid Toll: Locally
* Charles Paxton, 47 yrs., died on Jan. 7, 1875
* Mary Wilds, 20 yrs., died the following week
* Elizabeth Wilson, 40 yrs., died Jan. 1875 That
year, the first child to be reported as dying of
the disease that year was Rebecca Gibson of Seagrave,
age three months, 17 days. Her death was followed
by many more, including the following:
* Elizabeth Walsh, 2 yrs., of Reach Twp., Feb. 1875.
* John Lewis Webster of Brock, 1 yr. 10 months,,
* Infant son of Edward Bryans, 1 month, died March
* Jennette Byers, 3 yrs., of Greenbank, March 1875
* James Bentley, 32 yrs., of Utica, March 1875
* Cyrus Lebar, 1 yr., died at Port Perry, March
* Herman Diesfeld, 1 1/2 yrs., of Port Perry, March
* Susan Mary Carscadden, 5 months, died Mar. 28
* Reverend Robert Reynolds died May 23, March 1875
* Mary Dickie, 2 yrs., died on May 26, 1875.
* John Dickie, the father of the child died the
* Gerrow twins (unnamed) One died at 10 days, on
May 12, 1875. The second twin boy died one week
* William Morris, 2 months, Port Perry, died in
* Francis Cook, 2 yrs., 9 months, died May 1875
* Mary Gilland of Brock, 22 yrs., 3 months, May
1875 There were numerous more deaths in the months
to follow, but this gives and idea of the impact
the Typoid Fever caused in the Port Perry and Lake
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