1825: Epidemic in Middletown

Middletown, August 1, 1825.

Mr. Brainard:–

Many incorrect reports having been in circulation concerning the health of this city and town, I will thank you to publish the following statement of facts, as far as they have come to my knowledge. The epidemic that has prevailed, has been the Spotted-Fever or Sinking-Typhus, many cases of which have been extremely malignant; the great majority however have readily yielded to a proper course of treatment, and there have been very few deaths, except among the cases which occurred during the extreme hot weather of last month, when the thermometer stood at upwards of 90 [degrees] several hours for a number of days. It is well known, that the extremes of heat and cold are equally prejudicial to the sick, who are labouring under any febrile disease. From the first of May to the first of August, Dr. Edward S. Cone and the subscriber have had the charge of upwards of a hundred and twenty decided cases of the epidemic, about a hundred of which were in the city. Of the whole number, ten have died, eight in the city, and two in the out-parishes. At present, the fever has very much subsided, not more than one death from it having occurred the past week.

I shall make no other apology for troubling you with this communication, than what is contained in the following extract. “It is however an incontrovertible principle, that the public always has a right to the most explicit and full information, respecting the state of health in any place; and fortunately the impracticability of concealment for a length of time, is as absolute, as the right of the public to the information.”  

Yours respectfully,

THOMAS MINER.

P.S. Nor more than four or five deaths in this town from fever, beside the ten cases above specified, have come to my knowledge, within the last three months.  T. M.

The Committee appointed on the 8th inst. by a number of citizens to inquire respecting the health of the city, beg leave to report–That we have attended to the duty assigned to us by addressing a Circular to the several practicing Physicians within the city, a copy of which, and the answers thereto accompany this report. We have also addressed a note to the respective clergymen within the city, requested an account of the number of deaths in their parishes respectively, since the 1st of May, and herewith present their answers so far as received. We have also obtained from the sexton, a certificate as to the number of interments in the city, from the 1st of Jan. 1819, to the end of July last.

The committee find that until within a few years past, the city of Middletown had the reputation of being one of the healthiest places in New England, so much so that it was the resort of strangers from many parts of our country, and although our search has been diligent, we cannot find any satisfactory reason, why that reputation should not have been fully sustained. The report of the sexton shows the annual average burials from 1819 to 1824 inclusive, to be 59, from a population of 3000 in the city, and not less than 600 without the city, who bury within the limits of the city, being about 1 in 60 of the whole population.

The committee believe that few if any places in New England, can exhibit a Bill of Mortality for six successive years, so small in proportion to the number of inhabitants.

John Hinsdale,

Wm. Vandeursen, } Committee.

Chs. Brewer.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, August 10, 1825.
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