United States Epidemics


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 dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area. Some of the major epidemics in the United States are listed below:

DateAffected AreaType of Epidemic
1657BostonMeasles
1687BostonMeasles
1690New YorkYellow Fever
1713BostonMeasles
1721 - 1722BostonSmallpox
1729BostonMeasles
1732 - 1733WorldwideInfluenza
1738South CarolinaSmallpox
1739 - 1740BostonMeasles
1747CT, NY, PA, SCMeasles
1759North America [areas inhabited by white people]Measles
1761North America and West IndiesInfluenza
1772North AmericaMeasles
1775North America [especially hard in Northeast]epidemic-Unknown
1775 - 1776Worldwide [one of the worst epidemics]Influenza
1783Dover, DE ["extremely fatal"]Bilious Disorder
1784New Bern, NC (Craven Co)Yellow Fever
1788Philadelphia and New YorkMeasles
1793Vermont[a "putrid" fever] and -- Influenza
1793Virginia [killed 500 in 5 counties in 4 weeks]Influenza
1793Philadelphia [one of the worst epidemics]Yellow Fever
1793Harrisburg, PA [many unexplained deaths]Unknown
1793Middletown, PA [many mysterious deaths]Unknown
1794Philadelphia, PAYellow Fever
1796 - 1797Philadelphia, PAYellow Fever
1798Philadelphia, PA [one of the worst]Yellow Fever
1798New Bern, NC (Craven Co)Yellow Fever
1803New YorkYellow Fever
1820 - 1823Nationwide [starts-Schuylkill River and spreads]"Fever"
1831 - 1832Nationwide [brought by English emigrants]Asiatic Cholera
1832New York City and other major citiesCholera
1833Columbus, OHCholera
1834New York CityCholera
1837PhiladelphiaTyphus
1841Nationwide [especially severe in the south]Yellow Fever
1847New OrleansYellow Fever
1847 - 1848WorldwideInfluenza
1848 - 1849North AmericaCholera
1850NationwideYellow Fever
1850 - 1851North AmericaInfluenza
1852Nationwide [New Orleans-8,000 die in summer]Yellow Fever
1855Nationwide [many parts]Yellow Fever
1857 - 1859Worldwide [one of the worst epidemics]Influenza
1860 - 1861PennsylvaniaSmallpox
1865 - 1873Philadelphia, New York, Boston, New OrleansSmallpox
1865 - 1873Baltimore, Memphis, Washington DCCholera - A series of recurring epidemics of: Typhus, Typhoid, Scarlet Fever, Yellow Fever
1873 - 1875North America and EuropeInfluenza
1876Deadwood, SDSmallpox
1878New Orleans [last great epidemic]Yellow Fever
1833Columbus, OHCholera
1834New York CityCholera
1849New YorkCholera
1851Coles Co., Illinois, The Great Plains, and MissouriCholera
1885Plymouth, PATyphoid
1886Jacksonville, FLYellow Fever
1917 - 1919Worldwide [1918 high point year]Influenza (Spanish Flu)

NOTE: 1917-1919 Epidemic – More people were hospitalized in World War One from this epidemic than wounds. U.S. Army training camps became death camps, with 80% death rate in some camps!

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