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Typhoid Fever

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.

The 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,, Feb., 1875.
* Infant son of Edward Bryans, 1 month, died March 4, 1875
* 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 1875
* Herman Diesfeld, 1 1/2 yrs., of Port Perry, March 1875
* Susan Mary Carscadden, 5 months, died Mar. 28 at Blackstock
* 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 following February.
* Gerrow twins (unnamed) One died at 10 days, on May 12, 1875. The second twin boy died one week later.
* William Morris, 2 months, Port Perry, died in May 1875.
* 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 Scugog area.



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