“Sufferers’ Land” Post #45 – Cholera Strikes Again –

The summer of 1849, Cholera struck a second devastating blow across the Firelands. Sandusky, being the largest town in the region, was again the hardest hit. Over a period of sixty-eight days, three-hundred-and-fifty-eight people died out of a population of two-thousand-three-hundred. Thirty-three people died on Monday, July 30, the worst day of the epidemic.

A letter dated Friday, August 3 described a deserted city. Most of the population had fled, leaving an insufficient number to care for the sick. [1]

In another letter dated July 19, a woman by the name of Priscilla Smith informed her sister that their father had died from the disease. Duty calls me to perform the painful task of informing you that our dear father is no more. He breathed his last at 12:00 o’clock tonight. We did not consider him dangerous until about three o’clock this afternoon when he grew very sick from being thrown into the last stages of the cholera. [2]

By this time, Norwalk had sufficient population density for the disease to take hold and spread. Soon the streets of the village were silent except for the rumble of wagons carrying the dead to their graves.

All summer and into the fall, the disease continued to terrorize the village. It finally ended with the first frost, and the survivors returned to their homes, wondering if it would reappear the following year.


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[1] The Firelands Pioneer, April 1930, pp. 726-727

[2] Letter from Priscilla Smith to her sister is from The Firelands Pioneer, April 1925, p. 327.

© 2009 by David W. Barton. All rights reserved

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