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Epidemic Timeframes

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 their death during an epidemic or a move away from the affected area. Some of the major epidemics in the  United States are listed below.


Date Epidemic
1657    Boston Measles.
1687 Boston Measles.
1690 New York Yellow Fever.
1713 Boston Measles.
1729 Boston Measles.
1732-33 Worldwide Influenza.
1738 SC Smallpox.
1739-40 Boston Measles.
1747 CT, NY, PA, SC Measles.
1759 North. America (areas inhabited by white people) Measles.
1761 North America & West Indies Influenza.
1772 North America  Measles.
1775 North America (especially hard in NE) epidemic Unknown.
1775-76 Worldwide (one of the worst epidemics) Influenza.
1783 Dover, DE ("extremely fatal") Bilious Disorder.
1788 Philadelphia & New York  Measles.
1793 Vermont (a "putrid" fever) & Influenza.
1793 VA (killed 500 in 5 counties in 4 weeks) Influenza.
1793 Philadelphia (one of the worst epidemics) Yellow Fever.
1793 Harrisburg, PA (many unexplained deaths) Unknown.
1793 Middletown, PA (many mysterious deaths) Unknown.
1794 Philadelphia, PA Yellow Fever.
1796-97 Philadelphia, PA Yellow Fever.
1798 Philadelphia, PA (one of the worst) Yellow Fever.
1803 New York Yellow Fever.
1820-23 Nationwide (starts Schuylkill River  & spreads) "Fever".
1831-32 Nationwide (brought by English emigrants) Asiatic Cholera 1832 NY City & other major cities Cholera.
1837 Philadelphia Typhus.
1841 Nationwide (especially severe in the south) Yellow Fever.
1847 New Orleans Yellow Fever.
1847-48 Worldwide Influenza.
1848-49 North America Cholera.
1850 Nationwide Yellow Fever.
1850-51 North America Influenza.
1852 Nationwide (New Orleans-8,000 die in summer) Yellow Fever.
1855 Nationwide (many parts) Yellow Fever.
1857-59 Worldwide (one of the greatest  epidemics) Influenza.
1860-61 PA Smallpox.
1865-73 Philadelphia, NY, Boston, New Orleans; Smallpox: Baltimore, Memphis, Washington DC; Cholera: A series of  recurring epidemics of: Typhus, Typhoid, Scarlet Fever, Yellow Fever.
1873-75 North America & Europe Influenza.
1878 New Orleans (last great  epidemic) Yellow Fever.
1885 Plymouth, PA Typhoid.
1886 Jacksonville, FL Yellow Fever.
1918 (high point year)  Influenza Worldwide. More people were hospitalized in WWI from this epidemic than were wounded. US Army training camps became death camps, with 80% death rate in some camps.

Finally, these specific instances of cholera were mentioned.

Date Epidemic
1833 Columbus, Ohio
1834  New York City
1849  New York
1851 Coles Co, Illinois, The Great Plains, & Missouri

 

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