1849
Cholera Epidemic
Paterson, NJ

Annita Zalenski

In 1849, when the second wave of cholera swept through the United States and England, the cause of the illness was still unknown. Many thought that the disease was atmospheric in origin. Dr. John Snow, an English physician, was determined to find why cholera seemed to affect mainly the poor neighborhoods of London. By mapping the location of each death and the water source for each household he discovered that many of the victims obtained their water from one particular pump. Realizing that the water was related to the illness, Dr. Snow removed the pump handle and stopped the London epidemic. It took years before his theory was accepted.

A Board of Health had been formed in Paterson during the epidemic of 1832; however, it was not active in 1849, when cholera reappeared in the city. At the township committee meeting of May 21, 1849, it was "Resolved, That Doct Frederick S. Weller Town Physician, John Avison overseer of the poor, John K. Flood, Town Clerk, Henry Close, superintendant of streets, and Charles H. May, President of the Town Committee, be requested to act as a Committee in refference to the general health of the Town, and to draw up a report and address to the inhabitants of the Township on the subject and relative to the apprehended appearance of the Cholera among us."

Throughout the epidemic the local newspaper often published symptoms of the illness and encouraged residents to seek medical help at the first signs of the disease. The newspaper tried not to alarm the citizens, but kept them well informed about the progress of the epidemic. The following newspaper articles and death lists were extracted from Records of the Township of Paterson, New Jersey, 1831-1851: With the Laws Relating to the Township: Extracts from Contemporary Newspapers, and Notes, Compiled and Edited by William Nelson, 1895.

Paterson Intelligencer, June 6, 1849:

Cholera

We learn from the physicians of the Town, that a few cases of malignant cholera have occurred - but nothing to justify fear or create alarm. Only two fatal cases have occurred; one, Mr. Adams, was a person of temperate and good habits, but of feeble constitution and precarious health, and whose death would not be unexpected at any time. The other was a person of extremely intemperate habits, who would probably have fallen a victim to any disease with which he was attacked. The other cases have readily been managed and relieved by proper medical treatment.

By this time, every man, woman and child, who can read, hear, or understand, must know that the first state of the disease is characterized by a looseness of the bowels, generally unattended by pain. In this state the disease is most readily curable; but if allowed to run on unchecked, it soon becomes unmanageable, and death follows. In all the sudden cases we heard of, on inquiry, we find that the first state of the disease, characterized by looseness of the bowels, had been present for some days, but been neglected, as there was no pain. Let everyone know that life or death may depend upon stopping this looseness as soon as it appears.

At any of the regular drug stores may be found the proper remedies, the basis of all which is some form of opium. Let no family be without some laudanum or morphine ready at hand in the case of need. We again repeat that there is at present no cause for alarm - that the disease appears to be mild, and if not neglected in its early stages, its as easily relieved as most other epidemics. That the disease is in our community, and that the mysterious choleraic poison is diffusing itself in this locality, cannot be denied - the cases may probably increase, but this disease is more amenable to treatment that formerly - its nature and stages are better understood by the medical profession - and all authority proves that in its early stages it is curable - but let the first symptoms be checked. Life or death depends on this.

By the end of July cholera was rampant throughout the United States. President Zachary Taylor declared August 3, 1849, as nationwide day of "Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer." The following proclamation by New Jersey Governor Daniel Haines was published in the Paterson Intelligencer, August l, 1849.
PROCLAMATION

By the Governor of New Jersey.

WHEREAS the President of the United States, in consideration of the prevailing pestilence, has set apart FRIDAY, the third day of August next, and recommended that it be observed throughout the United States, as a day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer; and whereas I believe that the people of this State recognize the obligations of a Christian nation publicly to acknowledge their dependence upon Almighty God, and humbly to bow beneath the strokes of his afflictive providence, and fervently to supplicate his mercy; I do therefore hereby cordially respond to the sentiments expressed by the Chief Magistrate of the Union, and unite with him, in recommending to all the citizens of the State, the due and proper observance of the day named; and that abstaining from their worldly pursuits, they assemble themselves in their respective places of public worship, there with humble confession of sin and thankful acknowledgment of past mercies, unitedly and fervently to implore the Almighty Ruler of the Universe, to remove from us the scourge with which we are afflicted and speedily to restore to us the inestimable blessing of health.

Given under my hand at the city of Trenton, the twenty-sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and forty nine.

DANíL HAINES

One hundred and ten Patersonians died during the epidemic. On September 26, 1849, The Paterson Intelligencer published "a list of the names of all the persons who died of cholera in this town, from the 30th of May last up to the 10th inst."

1849 Cholera Death List

(The names have been arranged alphabetically. The "Number" column
refers to the order in which the entry was published by the newspaper. )


 
NUMBER
NAME
AGE
1
Adams, Thomas
41
18
Allen, Edward
52
64
Barrow, Alice
30
27
Bradley, Eliza
25
109
Brandt, Edward
24
6
Brown, Thomas
24
61
Cadmus, Henry T.
43
17
Campbell, Jacob
1
15
Campbell, Margaret
3
16
Campbell, Rebecca
30
14
Campbell, William
45
80
Canas, Patrick
6
79
Candell, John
32
30
Carnton, Michael
39
75
Carnton, Michael
28
7
Clark, William
13
10
Close, Catherine
18
11
Cronow, Barbara
33
103
Cutley, Jane
71
36
Delangle, Thomas
27
101
Doherty, Martha
50
108
Doremus, Ralph G.
40
98
Douglass, Archibald
2
52
Drake, Albert T.
37
49
Feltman, Jacobus
16
45
Female, name not furnished
30
82
Franklin, Mary
1
19
Garabrant, John
19
104
Garrabrant, Garret
Unknown
69
Gedney, Mary
49
73
Gillen, Catharine
52
29
Gillespie, John
50
77
Haden, Francis
3
96
Harrison, Betty
12
70
Harrison, John
58
94
Harrison, Samuel
4
78
Heney, Bernard
25
37
Hickett, Joseph
50
43
Jackson, Betsy
50
44
Jackson, Frank
51
89
Johnson, Wm. H.
42
40
Jones, John
31
26
Keane, Jane
6
4
Kelly, Bridget
25
72
Kelly, Edward
54
106
Kenneday, Mary
36
105
Kenneday, William
45
68
Kentworth, Sarah
37
66
Kentworthy, Sarah A.
Unknown
84
Kerns, William
2
46
Laird, John
41
91
Lamb, Mrs.
50
67
Lee, Thomas
41
76
Lodge, William
45
85
Mackling, Catherine
32
107
Mager, William
19
32
Maloy, Bridget
13
20
Marrian, Thomas
24
39
Marsh, Agnes
46
83
McCann, Bridget
30
21
McCardle, Susan
24
53
McCoy, James
6
35
McFey, John
34
25
McGinnis, Patrick
81
54
McGrotty, Nancy
33
51
McKivar, James
13
24
McManis, John
28
23
McManis, William
2
31
Mellory, Peter
31
5
Merrian, Thomas
Unknown
65
Metcalf, Martha
Unknown
57
M'Grechan, Margaret
59
42
Miller, Rachel
14
41
Millhaw, Ellen
49
93
Moss, James
48
74
Mulholland, Catharine
Infant
32
Norman, James
6
59
Orr, James
28
99
Palmer, Mary
12
100
Palmer, William
6
90
Patterson, Thomas
39
56
Plates, Henry
37
55
Porter, Thomas
39
102
Post, John
23
28
Rafferty, Hugh
66
3
Redmond, John
34
38
Richardson, Wm.
Infant
12
Ricker, Cath. Jane
19
22
Ripple, William
Infant
34
Riseley, Philip
27
63
Robertson, Sarah
2
87
Ryan, Patrick
39
95
Schuyler, Benj.
1-1/2
92
Scofield, Mary Ann
46
33
Semidt, Jacob S.
49
2
Shorrock, Ann
29
13
Sindle, Eliza Ann
25
81
Skelly, Thomas
23
9
Skinner, Mary
30
71
Smith, Felix
70
110
Stimson, Ephriam I.
45
62
Stott, Lucy
4
58
Stubert, Hester
13
97
Thompson, Thomas
3
8
Turner, William
48
60
Van Emburg, H'y.
31
50
Vosger, Martin
39
88
Vreeland, John
50
47
Wilden, Sophia
47
48
Wilhelm, John
29

Also published were the names of sixteen people who died in Manchester.
 
NUMBER
NAME
AGE
14
Baker, Harman
45
3
Bamper, Lodiwick
67
1
Bannar, Samuel
63
2
Berry, John
45
12
Conover, Samuel
29
5
Demarest, Garret H.
46
6
Demarest, Kesiah
78
11
Dykman, Richard
32
16
Eskie, Sarah
32
10
McCall, Sarah Jane
32
4
Messenger, John
45
9
Stagg, Cornelia
35
7
Van Voorhis, Abraham
55
8
Van Voorhis, Kesiah
39
13
Weymer, Catherine
42
15
Weymer, George
47