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Jefferson County, Nebraska

If you know of an epidemic in Jefferson county, please email the details or clipping and I will post it here.

Source: "Pioneer Tales of the Oregon Trail and of Jefferson County" by Charles Dawson, Published by Crane & Co., Topeka, 1912 (Photographically reprinted September, 1967, pg. 295-296.

"Jefferson county was visited with a frightful epidemic of smallpox during the winter of 1878-79; during the months of January, February, and March, many people were swept away before the measures adopted could check and finally stamp out the disease. Vaccination was practiced for the first time, and the passing of the winter gave final relief from the plague.

The first case was that of a child which died of an unknown disease, and as there was a large attendance at the funeral, soon afterwards there was quite a number came down with the dread disease, which quickly spread to all parts of the county, and in a short time there was over a hundred well-developed cases.

To Doctor A. M. Kinnamon much credit is due for his correct diagnosis and treatment, whereby its virulence was finally abated and ,many lives saved.

Three cases of the deadly black smallpox developed, and the victims of this, the most terrible form of contagious diseases known to man, died after horrible sufferings, their names being M. D. Goca, Mrs. C. Harschner, and Frank Palmer.

In all there were 37 deaths in about two months, or nearly one every day, fifteen of these being in Fairbury."


The Fairbury Gazette, Sat., Nov. 11, 1899
Reliable Information on Diptheria--
Not a Case Within a Half Mile
of the Public Square.

WHEREAS, grossly exaggerated reports of the number of cases of diptheria in Fairbury having been circulated throughout the county, a meeting of representative citizens including the physicians of the city, city officials and members of the board of health was held Thursday afternoon Nov. 9, and it was unanimously resolved to place all the facts in our possesion before the people of Jefferson county.

1st There have been in all since the commencement of the disease eight weeks ago forty two cases, of these eleven have died, twenty three entirely recovered, leaving only eight cases of diphtheria in Fairbury at this time. Of these four are rapidly convalescing, they are located in different houses in different parts of the city, the nearest one being five blocks from the public square.

2nd Every house where there is a patient is closely quarantined and a guard employed by the city stationed at every house to prevent anyone going in or out.

3d There is not nor has there ever been an epidemic. There is postively no danger whatever incoming to Fairbury and every citizen of the county can feel perfectly safe with his wife and children in coming here.

4th The school board has ordered the schools closed to have them thoroughly fumigated, the churches and theatres closed to prevent large assemblages of people, every precaution has been taken and at no time during the prevalence of the disease has there been so few cases as now.

5th. We assure every citizen that the above is an absolutely true statement of facts as they are today.
November 9th, 1899.

C.H. Denney,

S.W. Dodge,
City Health Officer


The Fairbury Journal, Thursday, July 4, 1918
Epidemic Under Control

A sudden breaking out of numerous cases of scarlet fever in Fairbury caused the city council to take drastic action at its meeting Tuesday evening. All public gatherings were ordered closed for the time being, including churches, Sunday Schools, picture shows and so on.

The records of the police show that 30 hoiuses have been quarantined for scarlet fever and two released leaving 28 under quarantine Wednesday morning of this week. The epidemic seems to be well scattered over town, including all classes. While those who are sick are mostly children, one or two adults are ill.

So far as we have been able to learn there are only two or three serious cases. Most of the cases are very light and in fact, the lightness of the attack is responsible for scattering the disease, as quite a number of children evidently had scarlet fever and were allowed to run at large because they were not sick enought to excite alarm.

A children's party where one or two children attended who had scarlet fever that no one suspected seems to have helped to scatter it.

Many cases were supposed to have been German measles until later symptoms developed.

There are also two cases of small pox and two of diphteria under quarantine. The first case quarantined for scarlet fever was last Thursday. Where the attack is light the quarantine can be lifted in a week and the physicians believe the disease will be entirely stamped out of Fairbury in a week or ten days from the present time.

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