Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?

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Claire, never one to mind her own business when there’s sickness afoot – especially when that sickness is smallpox and she’s the only person in the entire world who can’t catch it – makes a dangerous enemy of the Comte. After she diagnoses one of the Comte’s ships as being infected with the fatal disease, and refuses to keep the news quiet (to do so would cause smallpox to spread throughout the city), the ship and its cargo are burned to the ground, thus costing the Comte a significant amount of money in losses. Outlander-Wall Street JournalOutlander-

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the passage of time by drawing pictures of memorable events on calendars called winter counts. This picture, titled “Small Pox Winter,” is for 1837–1838 …

 

The 1837 smallpox epidemic spanned 1836 through 1840, but reached its height after the spring of 1837 when an American Fur Company steamboat, the S.S. St. Peter, carried infected people and supplies into the Missouri Valley. More than 15,000 Native Americans died along the Missouri River alone, with some tribes becoming nearly extinct.

Early settlers were not spared from infectious diseases. In 1832, an estimated 20,000 lives were lost in Upper and Lower Canada from a cholera epidemic. In an attempt to contain the disease, the Lower Canada Board of Health created a quarantine station for new arrivals on Grosse Île in the St. Lawrence River. Quarantine measures were enforced by the military to prevent the spread of the disease through Upper and Lower Canada.

Perth Courier–1899 Michael Cavanaugh of Smith’s Falls told the Smith’s Falls News a few days ago of a case of smallpox at Oliver’s Ferry in 1837.  In that year an Irish woman with two daughters aged 12 and 13 were put off at the ferry from a steam boat.

 Margaret, one of the daughters, had smallpox and the mother, on landing , went to the hotel there kept by Mrs. Campbell, a widow, and told her of her troubles and that here daughter was in the barn. The hotel lady gave the Irish woman a tick and told her to go to the barn and fill it with straw and that she could have the warehouse to herself.

There was no doctor in the neighborhood but the good landlady supplied the family with food and for five weeks the store house was their only shelter.  By that time the sick girl was taken to the hotel and soon recovered and no one seemed to be afraid of her.  No other cases developed and soon after the Irish woman and her two daughters moved to Farmersville,  which is now Athens.

 

Related reading-

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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