July 3, 2014

Jellico Smallpox Quarantine Leads to Violence, 1898



[February 22, 1898] -

The small-pox situation in the mountain towns is growing intense, although but few new cases are reported and those at Middlesboro and Jellico.  All the towns in Knox, Whitley and Laurel have quarantined each other and the world generally and will permit no person without a doctor's certificate to enter them either by private or public conveyance.  The trains are watched for people getting off and at London Conductor J. W. Rose, who stopped at the fair grounds and let some passengers off, had a writ issued against him, but as he was headed this way it was not served.  No steps have been taken by our authorities with reference to vaccination.  They are probably waiting for the horse to be stolen before locking the stable door. [1]


[February 24, 1898] -

Mrs. Ben W. Robinson, of Halsey, Ky., was here for a few hours Tuesday, between trains, coming from Hopkinsville to bring Master Marvin Evans home.  The left Halsey with the smallpox scare raging around Jellico, through which place they had to come, and where they found difficulty in getting through.  Miss Elizabeth Hopper is still at Halsey, but will not remain if the disease continues to spread.  A letter from Mr. Robinson dated February 21, says the situation is getting serious with numerous cases at Jellico, Proctor mines and other points.  When his letter was written vaccination had not been made compulsory but nearly everybody at Halsey and taken that precaution. [2] 


[February 25, 1898] -

Smallpox is still in Middlesboro, Jellico and other points.  All stations in Whitley county are quarantined.  One death at Middlesboro and a few new cases.  It is reported that telegraph operator, Brownlie, was brought from Middlesboro to East Bernstadt and was taken home and doors locked.  It is supposed he has the disease. [3]


[March 1, 1898] -

The physicians and Board of Health now have the small pox well under control in the Jellico territory. There are in all, at various places, about twenty-two cases.  No deaths have occurred. [4]


[March 8, 1898] -

Jellico's Small-Pox Epidemic.

Knoxville, Tenn., March 8.-- the small-pox situation in the Jellico mining region is becoming more serious daily.  Compulsory vaccination has been ordered and armed guards placed around the infected territory, who refuse to allow anyone to leave. [5]


[March 11, 1898] -


JELLICO, March 9. -- In the INTERIOR JOURNAL of the 8th, it is reported that there has been three deaths from small pox here.  It seems that the outside world, even within a few miles of us, can not report a truthful statement about the small-pox scare here and surrounding country.  The truth is we have only had six very light cases on the Tennessee side and few more on the Kentucky side, and at no time have there been any deaths from it or even a severe case.  Each side has pest-houses out of town and the patients are removed to them, and all suspects are properly guarded.  There is no danger of any more contagion as the people generally have been successfully vaccinated and all legal steps have been taken to stamp out the disease.  The business of our town has been greatly injured by false reports, and we have to depend on the press of the country to give u a truthful report and place us in proper light before the world.  The reports are circulated and the press publishes them and they are read all over the country, when the facts are that at no time has there been a case too sick to miss a meal. H. G. COOK.

That this letter comes perforated and fumigated is evidence that others, besides the newspapers, think that danger lurks in the twin cities, which they do not wish to spread abroad.--Ed.  [6]


[March 11, 1898] -

Smallpox at Coal Point.

BARBOURVILLE, Ky., March 9.--Dr. [?]stry, of Coal Point, six miles from this place, came to town Tuesday morning to consult the health board of Knox county in regard to a case of smallpox which has developed there.  The person who has the smallpox came from Jellico, Tenn., about two weeks ago.  Dr. Catron, of the board, went to take charge of the case. [7]


[March 14, 1898] -

Fifty shots were exchanged at East Jellico mines Saturday between guards and miners, who were trying to escape from the small-pox quarantine.  There is only one case there, but much excitement prevails.  Five new cases were found at Middlesborough Saturday. [8]


[March 14, 1898] -


Fighting Epidemic With Electricity at Long Range--Wires Kept Hot and Federal Aid Invoked.

MIDDLESBOROUGH, KY., March 9-- (Special telegram to Courier-Journal)--This has been a day of considerable excitement at Middlesboro.  When the small-pox epidemic broke out the expense of maintaining guards, caring for and feeding the patients was met by the municipal government, and while the regulations were not rigidly enforced there was little complaint from the populace.  On the first of March, Dr. Samuel Blair, of Pineville, a member of the County Health Board, and an appointee and "referee" of the State Board, assumed control of the epidemic, believing that he would be backed up by the county officials.  Several thousand dollars' expense had been incurred when it was stated that a number of Magistrates had intimated that the county would not honor Dr. Blair's warrants.

The State Board being notified of the situation, Dr. Arthur McCormack sends a telegram to the County Judge:

Judge J. F. Neal, Pineville, Ky.: Following telegram just received from State Board of Health: Unless city or county authorities can arrange, will be forced to relieve you all and local board from duty, stop all trains and adjoining counties to protect themselves.  Can get paper carried without interest if Fiscal Court will honor it.  If not, will act as above outlined.

In the event that this Fiscal Court repudiates the debt the citizens may advance the money, and if necessary the United States authorities will be asked to take charge of the epidemic.

March 8.-- Dr. J. N. McCormack at Bowling Green to-day ordered a quarantine proclamation to be issued.  The proclamation is rigid, and no person will be permitted to enter or leave the city until the order is revoked.  The proclamation is a great surprise, as the situation is much better than for several weeks, but Dr. McCormack asserts that it was necessary on account of persons who have left with health certificates having broken out after their departure. A reward is being offered for each small-pox discovery, and notwithstanding the quarantine proclamation the situation continues to improve.

Pineville, Ky., March 10.-- The Secretary of the Board of Health wired County Judge J. T. Neal to-day that if he did not call the County Court together and make appropriations sufficient to pay men now on duty as quarantine guards, the State Board would leave Middlesborough and order a quarantine against Bell County.  Judge Neal has already said he was against the County Court making any appropriation.

March 11.-- Judge Neal to-day reconsiders his recent decision, and agrees to appropriate from the County Treasury $1,000 for supplies, but will not contribute one cent for guards' "salaries" or medical fees.  At a citizens meeting today it was agreed  to advance to the City Treasurer $1,100, and an active canvass will be made for more.  One new smallpox case was discovered today, but Dr. McCormack thinks the amount subscribed will be sufficient to "stamp out the epidemic."  An appeal to the Federal government has been made for aid, doubtless by persons who are sceptical as to the effectiveness of the municipal, county and State "stampers."  There are but forty-nine cases now in the pest houses, and the outlook is good for a general delivery very soon.

March 12.-- The State Board agents and referees have apparently switched off and the citizen are now cooperating with United States Surgeon Wertenbaker in stamping out the disease.  Dr. McCormack while hospitably extending the freedom of the pest-stricken district, thinks that the National Surgeon's visit was "uncalled for;" apparently ignorant of the fact that the visitor is there in direct response to a "call."  In this the Secretary seemed to stand alone.  The situation, however, is visibly brighter.  Five new cases have been discovered and seven convalescents have been turned loose.  No deaths in the hospitals and no diminution in the number of the guards o in the quantity of the supplies.

March 12.--A Barboursville special of this date to the Courier-Journal says that four new guards were added to the list of the East Jellico to-day on account of trouble between miners and guards on the previous night.  There is only one case of small-pox at the mines to date, but that seems to have been enough to inspire a sense of uneasiness among the miners, and they at once made a rush to jump the quarantine.  Fifty shots were exchanged between the guards and the escaping miners.  The latter seem to be thoroughly ignorant of the principles of sanitary science, and are proceeding upon the crude theory that small-pox at close quarters is a dead shot, which evidently the "guards" are not.  However this may be, the exodus last night, though somewhat precipitate, was unanimous, and practically endorses the principles of "isolation" in all cases--for the well not less than the sick, nor do they seem to have improved materially upon this doctrine in the meddling and muddling at Middlesboro. [9]


[March 15, 1898] -

Fifty shots were exchanged at East Jellico mines between guards and miners, who were trying to escape from the small-pox quarantine.  There is only one case there, but much excitement prevails. [10]


[March 22, 1898] -


By the authority vested in me as Health Officer of Montgomery County, Ky., and acting with orders from State and County Boards of Health, in order to prevent the outbreak and spread of Small-pox, which is now raging in Middlesboro, Pineville, Jellico, Richmond, and other points in Eastern Kentucky, and which is spreading with alarming rapidity in the direction of this county, it is now hereby ordered that all persons in this county be vaccinated immediately.  The laws of Kentucky provide that all persons who fail or refuse to comply with the requirements of the Board of Health, shall be subject to a fine of from $10 to $100 for such neglect.  Each citizen is therefore directed to at once comply with the foregoing order.

W. R. Thompson,
Health Officer Montgomery Co.
Mt. Sterling, Ky., March 19, '98.  [11]


[1] Excerpt from "Local Happenings." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 22, 1898. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1898-02-22/ed-1/seq-3/

[2] Excerpt from "Local News." The Bee, Earlington, KY. February 24, 1898. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87060004/1898-02-24/ed-1/seq-3/

[3] Excerpt "Local and Otherwise." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. February 25, 1898. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1898-02-25/ed-1/seq-3/

[4] Excerpt from "Kentucky News." Morning Herald, Lexington, KY. March 1, 1898. Page 2. Genealogybank.com

[5] "Jellico's Small-pox Epidemic." Repository, Canton, OH. March 8, 1898. Page 7. Genealogybank.com

[6] "Small-Pox Scare at Jellico." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 11, 1898. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1898-03-11/ed-1/seq-1/

[7] "Smallpox at Coal Point." The Central Record, Lancaster, KY. March 11, 1898. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069201/1898-03-11/ed-1/seq-4/

[8] Paducah Daily Sun, Paducah, KY. March 14, 1898. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052118/1898-03-14/ed-1/seq-3/

[9] "Meddling and Muddling." The Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. March 14, 1898. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87060190/1898-03-14/ed-1/seq-2/

[10] Excerpt from "News in the Vicinage." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 15, 1898. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1898-03-15/ed-1/seq-1/

[11] "Notice of Vaccination!" The Mt. Sterling Advocate, Mt. Sterling, KY. March 22, 1898. Page 6. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069675/1898-03-22/ed-1/seq-6/


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