Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pioneer Diseases

This is the second in a series of articles about historical Hamilton County compiled by John Tholking. So many of our ancestors died of diseases that pose no threat in the 21st Century. Have you ever tried to decipher the "cause of death" on an ancestor's death certificate?  Perhaps this will help.

1791 Smallpox
Smallpox did not exist among the native peoples of the Americas until the Europeans came.  When exposed to smallpox, nearly everyone caught the disease, and nearly half of those who caught it died.  Native Americans died in heaps, the settlers wrote, leaving villages nothing but piles of bones.  In 1738 half of the Cherokee nation succumbed to smallpox.
Smallpox was the first epidemic in Cincinnati in 1791, just a few years after the first settlers of 1788.  “Dr. William Burnet Jr. came to Cincinnati in 1790 with a few books and medicines and moved into a cabin on Front Street.  He barely had begun practice when in 1791 the smallpox broke out and he fled to New Jersey.  He never came back.”  In later years there were several other outbreaks.  Those who did not die were often left with severe disfiguring scars. 
In other parts of the world the practice of inoculating with pus from infected individuals had existed but 1 in 50 died from this procedure.  In 1796, Edward Jenner, an English country doctor, noted milkmaids who caught cow-pox from cow’s udders became immune to smallpox.  Inoculation with this cowpox became known as vaccination after the Latin word ‘vaccinus’, meaning “of a cow”.
Dr. John Hole, the first doctor to settle in Cincinnati, was later credited with introducing cow-pox vaccination to the area when this knowledge became available.  Smallpox survived only in the human body, once every available human was protected by vaccination, smallpox perished. 


"John Corbley Jr. was the victim of the 'Cold Plague' of 1814 which carried off more people at the same time, in proportion to the population, than any other sickness that had prevailed in the West."  ( The Life and Times of Reverend John Corbley, Murphy, Leola  2nd ed. )

1817-21  BLACK TONGUE 

“Joseph Mathews served in the War of 1812, but died around 1820 when a plague known as "black tongue" swept over the Ohio Valley and took away every family member of every generation except two of the parents and nine children.”  In some epidemics, black tongue was a common term for diphtheria.

1832 – CHOLERA     Also  1834, 1849, 1850, 1852, 1866, 1873.
“The blue cholera, as it was called, overcame people so quickly that they could leave the house for work in the morning pink-cheeked and healthy and be dead by evening.  Victims were suddenly struck with horrible cramps, violent vomiting, and diarrhea: their face, hands, and feet shriveled and turned blue-black.”
Although unknown outside India before 1817, cholera has made its way via ships and steamships, to just about every part of the globe.  In 1832 it arrived in America by an emigrant ship at Quebec and quickly spread to New York and the Midwest.  It arrived in Cincinnati about the 20th of September, and for thirteen months spread its terror everywhere.  Within the first month 423 persons had died of this bacterial infection spread by poor sanitation, close contact and contaminated water . 
“The city, during the prevalence of this dreadful epidemic, presented a mournful aspect.  Thousands of citizens were absent in the country; very many were closely confined by personal affliction or the demands of sick friends;  hundreds were numbered among the dead;  the transient population had entirely disappeared.  All business interests were at a standstill;  the city seemed lifeless and property found no sale at even low prices.”  In 1849 the cholera again returned  - worse than ever.  That year 8,500 perished, one in every fourteen citizens. 

Tuberculosis existed among Native Americans but did not flourish among fairly healthy people living in scattered small groups.  But after Native Americans were moved to crowded reservations, it ran rampant.  The same pattern appeared as Cincinnati grew into a flourishing city.  The disease was primarily spread by respiratory infection, especially in crowded living conditions.  Farmers were not without concerns, however, because milk cattle often became infected and could pass the disease through their milk to humans. 
For the most part, people who were sick with tuberculosis of the lungs felt a little sick for years, without being completely bedridden.  For this reason, the disease was known as “consumption” or by the name the Greeks gave it, “phthisis”.
Dying went on for years.  The thin, flushed, and feverish look usually with a hacking cough and blood-tinged handkerchief.  Tuberculosis is stealthy: after it enters a body, the germ will wait as long as it takes, ten days or fifty years, for the moment the host is weak enough to attack.  As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, one quarter of all Europeans died young of tuberculosis. 

Early Cincinnati physician, Dr. Daniel Drake, in his Systematic Treatise on the Principal Diseases of the Interior Valley of North America describes both of these mosquito borne diseases as being found in the Ohio and Mississippi valley basins.  Before the settlers, there were many areas of swamps that were later drained for fields.  Early physicians did not know the causes of these illnesses but recognized them by their fever patterns and complications.  Fevers were classified as intermittent, relapsing, recurrent, autumnal, inflammatory and malignant.

Many senior citizens still remember the common illnesses of their childhood that frequently caused serious illness or death.  Diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, polio, tonsillitis, pneumonia and many other illnesses were common causes of death that have been eliminated or treated effectively with immunizations or antibiotics, both of which were not developed until the 1940’s. 

Selected Reading:
Drake, Daniel MD,  Physician to the West, Selected Writings of Daniel Drake, 1970, University Press, Lexington, KY.
Drake, Daniel MD, A Systematic Treatise on the Principal Diseases of the Interior Valley of North America, 1850, Cincinnati.
Farrell, Jeanette,  Invisible Enemies, Stories of Infectious Disease, 1998, New York, Farrar, ISBN 0-374-33637-7
Goss, Charles F.,  Cincinnati – The Queen City, 1912,
Leonard, Lewis Alexander,  Greater Cincinnati and Its People, 1927, Lewis Publishing, Cincinnati.
Archaic Medical Terms for Genealogists – Multiple internet sites  eg. http://www.genproxy.co.uk/old_medical_terms.htm
    Compiled by John Tholking MD
Membership in First Families is open to descendants of pioneers who were residents of Hamilton County, OH before December 31, 1820.   Pioneers of Hamilton County, Northwest Territory, which included areas of current Ohio, Michigan and Indiana are also eligible..  (See Tracer  Vol. 21 #1 2000)  Applications or requests for forms may be sent to FFHC, Hamilton County Chapter OGS, PO Box 15865,  Cincinnati, OH 45215-0865.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

NGS2012 -- The Day After

Thanks to Jeff Herbert, Chapter President, for submitting this post.

Celebrating HCGS at the NGS Conference
As many of us are recovering from the exciting past four days at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference that our chapter recently hosted in Cincinnati, I just wanted to take a minute to tell everyone that stopped by our booth to look and chat a heartfelt “Thank You”.   There were over 2100 attendees at the conference last week, and at times it felt that over one half were waiting to get into the booth to see what is new and to share their experiences at the conference.   If we didn’t get a chance to talk to each of you individually, we’re sorry, but we will be hosting the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) conference next year right across the street at the Millennium Hotel, so you’ll have another chance to attend and help out at the statewide conference next spring.   Stay tuned for more details later in the year.

Jean Morrison and Barbara Gargiulo talk with a visitor.
Of those of you that did stop by our display, we heard from you that many of the lectures were completely full, and heard many impressive comments regarding the speakers and their material.   These comments and feedback are much appreciated and help to reinforce all the hard work that went on behind the scenes to make everything run smooth, and to allow everyone to maximize their time while there.  

We also added over 30 new members to the chapter -- welcome aboard,  and handed out many applications to researchers that are interested and eligible for our chapter’s lineage recognition program (First Families, Settlers & Builders, and Century Families).   Many of you also expressed interest in volunteering some time to help with ongoing and future projects.   Stay tuned, we’re working on our summer project list now. 
Thanks to everyone for your attendance, your support, and for volunteering to help out wherever it was needed during the many months of preparation.   

Jeff Herbert

Friday, May 11, 2012

The View from a Visitor's Point of View

If you are like me, you are a proud Cincinnatian.  It was important to me that those coming to NGS got a taste of Cincinnati that left them with a good feeling about our city and a desire to return some day.  It was with great pleasure that I was able to read this post from another "Official Blogger" describing her experiences at NGS.  Take a minute to read what Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana had to say on her blog:  The Last Leaf on This Branch.

Thanks, Laura.

Can It Really Be Day 4?

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to blog.  I looked so forward to being an "Official Blogger" for NGS.  Who could have guessed that we're coming up on the final day and I've barely opened my computer!  It speaks to how busy I've been and the connections I've made to others at the conference.

It's been a great few days!  I've learned a few new tips and tricks!  I attended a session on Ancestry DNA and got a much better understanding of what it can and cannot do in its infant stage.  I have leads on how to research some Pennsylvania ancestors and how to better make use of Probate records.  But best of all, I've had the opportunity to strengthen old relationships and form new ones.  What a great conference it has been.  I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Kathy Reed

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are You Having Trouble Finding German Church Records?

A little-known resource in Cincinnati could hold the answers to your dilemma. Known as the Nippert German Methodist Collection, it covers churches, hospitals, colleges, and other affiliate organizations active until World War I. At that time most were absorbed into the Methodist Episcopal Church. The material collected came from all over the country, not just the Cincinnati area. The German Methodist Church was founded in Cincinnati.

It was a long time in my genealogy journeys before I found the hole in the proverbial stone wall. A case of serendipity led me to the source. The Cincinnati History Library and Archives at the Cincinnati Museum Center houses the collection. Most of the information is in German, but it is generally pretty easy to glean the information. If you are up against that stone wall it may be worth your effort to pay the Library a visit (1301 Western Avenue). The material is well indexed.

Contributed by Ellyn Kern, a member of the Hamilton County Chapter attending the NGS Conference this week. Ellyn wrote about her experiences with the Nippert Collection in the NGS Newsmagazine, May/June 2000.

Day 1 at the Conference

We're off and running at NGS2012!  Last night I had the opportunity to attend a special session sponsored by FamilySearch.org.  They gave us a heads-up on the indexing of the 1940 Census.  There has been incredible progress made.  At this point, they are hoping that it will be completed by late July.  They are still looking for indexers.

I'm at the Hospitality Desk just inside the entrance of the Convention Center and will be her again between 12:00 and 2:00.  Stop by and say "hello."

Kathy Reed

Monday, May 7, 2012

#NGS 2012

We interrupt our normally scheduled programming (on the HCGS blog) to invite you to come along with us to the National Genealogical Society Conference being held in Cincinnati -- our fair city!  The conference bags are stuffed, the volunteers recruited and trained, and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate.

We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to Cincinnati. Check here periodically for updates.  We encourage you to leave comments and share your experiences. While you're here, look for the Hamilton County Genealogical Society booth in the Exhibit Hall.

Kathy Reed

First Families of Hamilton County - Early Hamilton County Boundaries

Welcome to the first in a series of articles about historical Hamilton County compiled by John Tholking. Don't think you have ancestors from Hamilton County? Read on. You may be surprised!

Genealogists researching their early southwest Ohio ancestors are often unaware of the many boundary changes that Hamilton County underwent before Ohio became a state in 1803.  At one time in 1792, Hamilton County, Northwest Territory, covered most of the western third of the current state of Ohio and part of Michigan to the Canadian border. From 1798 to 1803 several southeastern Indiana counties were also part of Hamilton County.  Descendants of settlers in these areas at those early times are eligible for membership in First Families of Hamilton County.

In the 1660’s, early French explorers discovered the Ohio River.  The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the French and Indian War and gave control of this area to the British.  The Shawnee and the Miami were the Indian tribes in the western Ohio lands at the time.  Near the end of the Revolutionary War, George Rogers Clark led 1,000 mounted riflemen up the Great Miami valley to destroy British outposts, giving the Americans control of what was to become the Northwest Territory.  After the Revolutionary War, many colonial states claimed lands in this area because some of the colonial charters from the British kings specified title to the lands from ’sea to sea’.


In July, 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance establishing the Northwest Territory, and later that year Congress sold John Cleves Symmes over 250,000 acres between the Miami Rivers.  In November 1788, Major Benjamin Stites led the first group of permanent settlers down the Ohio to establish Columbia at the mouth of the Little Miami River near the site of the present day Lunken Airport.

Hamilton County

On July 9, 1788, General Arthur St. Clair, the President of Congress, arrived at Marietta to become the governor of the new Northwest Territory which extended west to the Mississippi and north to the Great Lakes.  He established the first county in the territory, Washington County, which covered the eastern half of the area which later became Ohio.
On Jan 2, 1790, Governor St. Clair moved his headquarters west to Fort Washington at Losantiville.  He immediately established and organized Hamilton County as the second county, declared the new village to be its county seat, and renamed the town “Cincinnati”.  Hamilton County was named by Judge Symmes in honor of his friend, Alexander Hamilton, then the first Secretary of the Treasury, 1789-1795.
Initially, from 1790 to 1792, Hamilton County covered the area between the Miami Rivers.  “Beginning with the mouth of the Little Miami; thence down the (Ohio) river to the mouth of the Big Miami, and up said stream to the standing stone forks; thence in a straight line due east to the Little Miami, then down that stream to the place of the beginning.”  
In 1792 Hamilton County’s boundaries were extended east to the Scioto River and north to the Great Lakes. Hamilton County changed its borders ten times over the first eighteen years.

The state of Virginia reserved over 4 million acres of land between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers to reward her soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War.  Bounties ranged from 100 acres to 15,000 acres depending on rank and length of service.  They could be sold or passed on to the heirs of a soldier or officer killed in the war.  General George Washington had warrants totaling 3051 acres in Clermont and eastern Hamilton counties.  The first patents for the Virginia lands were not issued until February, 1796.

Hamilton County 1798
In 1798, Hamilton County added part of the Indiana Territory’s Knox County.  This area of land is sometimes referred to as the ‘wedge’ or ‘gore’, an old term for a triangle of land.  The boundary ran north from the mouth of the Kentucky River to Fort Recovery.  An Indian treaty ceded this triangular land in 1795 and opened the area to settlement, but it was not until six years later after the land had been surveyed and a land office opened at Cincinnati, that it could be purchased.  In the meantime, many settlers moved in and “squatted’ on the land hoping to purchase their site when the area was opened for sale.  Early Indiana entries refer to this area as the Cincinnati District.  When the state of Ohio was formed in 1803, the line reverted to one drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami River. 
According to the Hamilton County Recorders Office, most records for these areas that are no longer part of the current Hamilton County were long ago returned to the local newly formed counties.

       1790, Jan 2             Hamilton County organized.
       1792, Feb 11          Boundary Extended east to Scioto River and north to the Great Lakes.
       1796, Aug 15          Diminished by formation of Wayne County, Northwest Territory.
       1797, Jul 10            Diminished by formation of Adams County.
       1798, Jun 22           Part of Knox County, Northwest Territory added.
       1798, Aug 20          Diminished by formation of Ross County.
       1798, Sep 1            Part attached to Adams County.
       1800, Dec 6            Diminished by formation of Clermont County.
       1802, Apr 30           Diminished by Enabling Act of Ohio.
       1803, May 1            Diminished by formation of Warren, Butler, Montgomery
                                             and Greene Counties.
       1808, Jan 20          Part attached to Butler County.


Downs, Randolph C.,  Evolution of Ohio County Boundaries,          
                                  Ohio Archeological and Historical Publ. #36  1927, Reprinted 1970.
Knepper, John W. Ohio and Its People, Kent State Univ. Press, 1989.
Long, John H. Ed., Ohio – Atlas of Historical County Boundaries,  Simon &  Schuster, 1998.
Ohio Auditor of State, Ohio Lands – A Short History, State of Ohio, 1991.
Pittinger, David, Hamilton County Recorder’s Office.
Waters, Margaret R., Indiana Land Entries – Vol. 1, Indianapolis, 1948.
Works Progress Administration, Inventory of County Archives of Ohio,  Historical Records 
                                 Survey, Columbus, OH.
                                                                                                                   Compiled by John Tholking

Membership in First Families is open to descendants of pioneers who were residents of Hamilton County before December 31, 1820.  Applications or requests for forms may be sent to FFHC, Hamilton County Chapter OGS, PO Box 15865,  Cincinnati, OH 45215-0865.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

NGS Conference "Official Blogger"

We are proud to announce that our Hamilton County Genealogical Society blog is among a limited number of blogs selected to "get the word out" during the Conference.  We will have the opportunity to add items of interest to conference attendees as they happen in real time. A link to our blog and those of other "Official Bloggers" will be provided by NGS to conference participants.  The posts will not necessarily follow a normal post format.  Some may be much shorter and lend themselves to being viewed on smart phones, ipods and other small devices.

In addition to the formal, scheduled events for the conference, I encourage you to consider stopping by the Christian Moerlein Lager House on The Banks on Thursday evening anytime after 7:00 PM.  This event is UNOFFICIAL and we have no idea how many people may show up.  The Lager House has a Beer Garden and know we are coming.  They said they would try to group some tables together.  Thursday evening is also the night where conference participants may visit the Freedom Center.  These venues are very close together and I'm hoping people will choose to do both.  I'm hoping that some of our out-of-town Chapter members can take advantage of this opportunity to connect with the locals.

Questions?  Feel free to email me at khreed@cinci.rr.com.  Put NGS in the subject line. If you know you will be attending, I encourage you to click on "comments" below and leave a response.

Kathy Reed