The Cholera epidemic of 1832 in Rochester

by
Richard T. Halsey

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Among the diseases that killed the people in the 1800s, none was feared more than the cholera. In less than a day from it's outset, cholera affected a person by violent diarrhea, vomiting, muscular contraction and many cases death. In 1832, cholera was spread throughout the entire country as witnessed by the accounts of various cities in the local newspapers.

The first case in Rochester was that of Edward Pearsol (also called Isreal Pearsall). He came to Rochester by way of the Erie Canal on the 11th of July. He had had diarrhea severals days. On the morning of the 12th he went to a doctor to get some medicine, but was soon stricken with vomiting. He died at about ten o'clock that evening and fearing the spread of the disease he was laid to rest at 2:00 A.M.. The second case of cholera was an unnamed woman from the Isle of Man that also arrived via the canal. That the Erie Canal helped spread the disease can be seen by one account of a canal boat that buried one passenger in Perinton and one in Pittsford. Also, two of the deaths in Rochester were canal boat drivers.

Although only 121 persons died in Rochester, this was a true epidemic. The population of Rochester in 1832 was approximately 12,000, thus 1 in 100 died from the cholera in just six weeks. In today's numbers, 1% of the population of Rochester would be about 2500 deaths. The total number of documented cases was 388 but there probably more cases as some people only suffered minor diarrhea and survived. Also, fearing the stigma of the disease some people were probably listed as dying of some other cause.

The following list of deaths during the epidemic was in the Rochester newspaper after the epidemic had passed.

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Date Name Age
July 12 Edward PEARSOL of Michigan; came from NYC 30
July 15 female from Isle of Man; came from NYC 44
July 23 Charles F. SHELDON, formerly of Northampton, MA 24
July 23 Mrs. DRINNELL 25
July 25 female in Wilson's block; Swiss 30
July 26 Gilbert T. SMITH 40
July 26 FRADENBURGH boy, in the hospital (or FRIEDENBURG) 9
July 27 Jane SCOTT, wife of Thomas; Scot.; in hosp. 45
July 28 Mrs. Christiana BENTLEY, wife of Aaron 28
July 28 DONALDSON boy, Irish; in the hospital 5
July 28 STRAUGH (or STRAUP), German 21
July 29 Mrs. Lucy BUSH, wife of Eleazor 41
July 29 Alexander MAXWELL, child of widow Mary Ann 9
July 29 Thomas SCOTT, husband of Jane; Scot., in hosp. 43
July 30 Benjamin MORSE, canal driver from Kirkland, NY;
died in the hospital
20
July 30 Mr. Aaron BENTLEY 30
July 30 Bosley (or Beardsley) BAKER; colored 40
July 31 James SMITH; colored 5
July 31 Capt. Stephen FULLER 33
July 31 Richard WATTS (or WATT) 35
July 31 Elizabeth ACKLEY, English 6
Aug. 1 Robert MARK 32
Aug. 1 child on board a boat just arrived from the east -
Aug. 2 George McDONALS (or McDANIELS), a canal driver 19
Aug. 2 Esther CLARKE of Sweden, NY 35
Aug. 4 Ellen SHANE, Irish 42
Aug. 4 Mrs. Naomi S. TUCKER, wife of Luther 25
Aug. 4 Mrs. COX 35
Aug. 4 Mrs. (or Mr.) FRADENBURGH 33
Aug. 4 Myron FULLER, son of late Capt. Stephen 4
Aug. 4 Patrick MESSLER, Irish; in the hospital 41
Aug. 6 Samuel COX 30
Aug. 6 Sarah DEPUNG (or DUPUNG) 25
Aug. 6 Ansel HILL 33
Aug. 7 Sarah McCLAFFERTY, Irish 28
Aug. 7 Mrs. Melissa B. HASKELL, wife of Timothy C. 27
Aug. 7 Sarah Rebecca CURTISS, dau. of Truman 13
Aug. S Ann KNAPP 38
Aug. 8 Gilbert SMITH Jr., son of Gilbert T. 8
Aug. 9 Lucy MACK 12y 8m
Aug. 9 Charles Henry TUCKER, son of Luther 3y 8m
Aug. 9 Margaret WILLSON 6
Aug. 9 William Charles ALLING, son of S. Y. 2
Aug. 10 Mary Ann SHANE, Irish 2
Aug. 10 Eliza MINER 22
Aug. 11 Charles W. KITNEY (or KRITNEY), Swiss 4
Aug. 11 Betsey CROUCH, English 6
Aug. 12 Samuel HALL, colored 42
Aug. 12 Jane FRANC (or FRANK), Swiss 30
Aug. 12 Abigail BEAN (or BEERS) 30
Aug. 13 Ellen SHANE, Irish 14
Aug. 14 Comfort STARR 26
Aug. 14 Sally BURR, colored 32
Aug. 14 Polly CASE 2
Aug. 14 Sarah M. ROBERTS, dau. of H. 14
Aug. 14 Ephraim JACKSON, colored 30
Aug. 14 Mary FRANK, Swiss 28
Aug. 14 Ann BREWER, colored 35
Aug. 14 Silas PAGE; in the hospital 33
Aug. 15 Dennis DOYLE, Irish 53
Aug. 15 Sally McKERNS (or Sally W. KERNS), Irish 40
Aug. 15 Luther LUDDEN 60
Aug. 15 Joseph R. TRUMBULL, son of D. N. 27
Aug. 15 Cynthia LOWELL 49
Aug. 15 Adeline McINTYRE, colored 6
Aug. 15 Russell S. STREETER (printer) 20y 6m
Aug. 15 James H. HAYWOOD, son of William & Almira 2
Aug. 16 Patrick REAL (or RIALL), Irish 37
Aug. 16 James A. MARSH 36
Aug. 16 Col. Pierce DARROW 47
Aug. 16 Mrs. Caroline BUSH, wife of Henry 25
Aug. 16 Alaric M. HUBBELL 3
Aug. 17 Ann ADAMS 32
Aug. 17 Amos RYAN 13
Aug. 17 George C. BURKE (or BURK), Irish 10
Aug. 17 ----- RICE 7
Aug. 17 Lewis REED, colored 22
Aug. 17 ----- WEIR, Irish 10
Aug. 17 ----- BROWN, Irish 6
Aug. 18 Mrs. Nancy BEAN 25
Aug. 18 Miss Caroline HAWLEY 26
Aug. 18 Mary FRANK, Swiss 3
Aug. 18 Miss Ann BULL, sister of Mrs. Bush (Aug. 16) 20
Aug. 19 George SKINNER 20
Aug. 19 Ann McCHRISTIAN, Irish 23
Aug. 19 Major Albert C. BURR 27
Aug. 20 Miss Jane SMITH, dau. of Dr. J. W. 22
Aug. 21 George E. GREEN 28
Aug. 21 Mrs. Harriet LAWRENCE 43
Aug. 21 Leroy TINKER 6
Aug. 21 John -----, foreigner 42
Aug. 22 John H. SAGE, son of Oren 10
Aug. 22 Mary Ann BERRY 8
Aug. 22 Rebecca WHEATON, wife of Robert 40
Aug. 24 Mary TINKER 77
Aug. 24 Phebe Maria ROWLEY 12
Aug. 24 ----- UNDERWOOD 4
Aug. 24 Dr. H. R. WARREN, botonic physician 30
Aug. 24 Peter MELAH (or WELCH), Swiss 75
Aug. 25 Peter ITALIA, French 43
Aug. 25 Elizabeth BOSTWICK, wife of Daniel 38
Aug. 25 Michael MAHONEY, Irish 36
Aug. 25 Wm. WADE 40
Aug. 25 Mr. GILBERT 30
Aug. 25 Eunice MARSH 2
Aug. 26 Isaac UNDERWOOD 34
Aug. 26 Wm. HATCH 65
Aug. 27 Mary Ann RANNEY, mother of Oren SAGE 66
Aug. 27 Alpheus TUCKER 61
Aug. 28 Thomas HATHAWAY 27
Aug. 29 Henry PATTEN 2
Aug. 30 Mary Jane CLARK 2
Aug. 30 Hannah ELY, wife of Elisha 45
Aug. 30 Henry WARD, son of Charles M. 18m
Aug. 31 Christian ECTON, Swiss 48
Aug. 31 Mary C. BURR, wife of Gen. Timothy 52
Sept. 1 Thomas CHANDLER 24
Sept. 1 ----- FIELD 40
Sept. 1 John WHILEY 28
Sept. 3 Wm. DOBBIN, Irish 6
Sept. 3 Joseph STONE Jr. 2

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© Richard T. Halsey, 2000