There is daily news concerning the supposed origin and the spread of the Corona virus. Long ago, smallpox epidemics in Robertson County caused concern. These occurred in 1901 and 1903.
According to Henry Taylor, onetime president of the Robertson County Historical Society, a person who was infected with smallpox was logically quarantined. The person was sent to a “camp” isolated from the rest of the community.
According to Taylor, one of these camps was located where Third Avenue West is now. At the time it was isolated, not yet in the populated part of Springfield.
Other camps were located in the communities of Owens Chapel, Sandy Springs, Sadlersville, and Youngville.
In each “pest house,” as the camps were called, there were also nurses and armed guards. Doctors visited there regularly. These doctors included the County Health Officer – F.M. Woodard, as well as Doctors Bradley, Dye, and McCampbell.
Another doctor named was Dr. J.H. Matthews, who lived on Spring Creek, near Kinney’s Station.
The nurses were paid one dollar per day. The guards received more - $1.50 per day.
Dr. McCampbell was paid $137 for one month and three days for treating smallpox patients.
Receipts dating from that time provide a good picture of specific items needed for the camps.
Menees & Patton provided vaccine, mercury tablets, and sulphur candles. A.D. Hooper Tin Shop furnished a scalding tub.
One bill was for one gallon of whiskey for “medicinal purposes.” The whiskey was bought for the camp at Sadlersville from Pitt Bros. The cost was $2.50.
Henry & Bell supplied cots, pillows, mattresses, and one coffin at a cost of $5.
Dulin, Glenn & Co. also sold items for the cots. The quilts cost $1.75 each.
The bedding – sheets, blankets, mattresses, and so on – were burned after use. So were the patient’s clothes. O.G. Sprouse and N. Rosenblum sold clothing to the camps.
George D. Langford and J.B. Sugg were among the suppliers of food.
One bill was for feeding four horses for four weeks at $2 per week. A cow was fed at 75 cents.
Ammunition and kitchen equipment, such as a coffee mill, were among many other items needed. Receipts name specifically many businesses of the day that are only history now.
Note: Dates in a recent article about Josiah W. Fort were incorrect. Fort lived until 1887, and his journals cover 1859 until the year of his death. Thanks to a careful reader for noting the error.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.