Tennessee AHGP
 Maury County Epidemics and Disease

The first epidemic in the county was the black tongue in 1813. Gen. Roberts, county surveyor, had a son die of the disease in Nashville. He and another son brought the corpse home for interment. In a short time that son took the disease and died. The disease spread and was more fatal in proportion to its extent than the one in 1844.

The epidemic of 1844 occurred early in February, the first case being a young lady who had been visiting Nashville. A great many died of this disease, among them Col. Dew and Dr. Law. The disease manifested itself in different ways: sometimes in acute pains, and in others in nervous and muscular depression without pain. It was very fatal among Negroes. It prevailed both in town and country. It was what is now known as cerebra spinal meningitis.

An epidemic of scarlet fever of remarkable fatality prevailed in 1837. Cholera has never prevailed in Columbia, although it has visited various parts of the county several times with its wanton violence. Each time imported or sporadic cases occurred in turn, but it invariably died out of itself. In 1834 Col. Whittaker, a planter living seven miles southeast of Columbia, on his return from Nashville, was attacked by the disease at midnight and died the following day. Dr. Brown who intended him died, also seven of his Negroes, one of whom died in the office of Drs. Brown & Buchanan, whither he had gone for a physician. It was introduced at Mount Pleasant in the same way, from Nashville, and prevailed with its usual fatality, Dr. Thevenot being one of its victims.

At midnight on Saturday, August 14, 1835, it suddenly fell upon the little town of Williamsport, and by the morning of the 15th several were dead or dying and many writhing under its torturing cramps. Twelve citizens of the place died and as many from the country. In every case the individuals had been visiting or doing business in that portion of the town situated in a low, damp flat, nor were any attacked in the country who had not visited that spot of the village on the fatal Saturday.

In June 1849, Dr. Hays was summoned to the bedside of ex-President Polk. He went in the old Polk family carriage driven by Old Joe, the favorite coachman. On Joe's return he was suddenly seized with the cholera and died in a short time, but no other cases followed.

In July, 1850, Jim Brown, who kept a wagon-yard in the lower part of town, was suddenly seized with the cholera on his return from Nashville. He recovered after intense suffering, but two colored women caught the disease and died. Those were the last cases of cholera.

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886


© Tennessee American History and Genealogy Project
Created February 3, 2016 by Judy White