St. Mary's Assumption Church - Funeral Records

Funerals - 1891 to 1898

Common Illnesses

Cholera Infantum

Tilden, J. H. (1909). The etiology of Cholera Infantum with the hygienic and dietetic treatment. Denver, CO: The Merchants Publishing Co.

Definition: Cholera infantum was regarded as an inflamatory disease of the alimentary canal (stomach & bowels), which was common during summer months. There were numerous other diseases which were often confused with cholera infantum including; summer diarrhea, summer complaint, and gastro-enteritis. Depending on which portion of the ailmentary canal was infected, different names could be applied.

Causes & Transmission: A doctor's knowledge of cholera 125 years ago was extremely limited compared to the knowledge available today. Old books attribute the causes of cholera infections amongst children to poor hygiene and health habits practiced by the mother. They attribute the infections to contaminated and overheated breast milk, overeating by the mother during pregnancy, and animal contamination. Today, we understand cholera's transmission through contaminated food and water. Infants, with weaker immune systems, are far more susceptible to cholera infection. It is likely that parental handling of infants and poor hygiene amongst adults with similar illnesses of the alimentary canal would have contributed to cholera outbreaks.

Symptoms: Dr. Tilden's book shows the basic observation of symptoms experienced by infants with cholera. A fever and temperature of 102 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The child becomes restless and experiences severe bowel discharges and vomiting. As the illness progresses, the vomiting becomes more severe. The child's stomach and bowels fill with gas and become sensitive to the touch; the pulse accellerates as well as the breathing.

Due to extreme diarrhea and vomiting, the child loses fluids rapidly and becomes extremely thirsty, which is often confused with hunger. A severe infection may cause the child to die within 24 hours, but should the child survive beyond that period of time, the illness typically evolves into gastro-enteritis. As the illness continues to progress, the child's restlessness will increase. Often, the child will experience convulsions from the loss of fluids and high fever, which is often followed by a comatose state. At that point, the child gradually sinks into death.

Consumption or Tuberculosis

New York Department of Health. (1910). What you should know about Tuberculosis. New York, NY: Frank H. Mann.

Definition: Pulmonary tuberculosis was a common and often fatal lung disease. It was understood as a disease caused by the growth of a germ called tubercle bacillus (today, multiple bacteria are understood). The term "consumption" comes from the rapid weight loss experienced by victims of the disease.

Causes: Tuberculosis is common amongst people with weakened immune systems caused by any number of factors. Since the weakened immune systems are common amongst malnourished people and present in overcrowded areas, tuberculosis is often regarded as a poverty disease. Amongst the Polish immigrants in places like Albion, extreme exhaustion would create a weakened immune system amongst the men working in the quarries, making them susceptible to the disease. Living at home, their children (who also had weakened immune systems from simply being young) would be extremely vulnerable as well. As an airborne disease, it was extremely dangerous.

Symptoms: Loss of weight, loss of appetite, loss of color (skin), fever, cough and spitting (with blood at times), chills, night sweats, difficulty breathing and chest pain were all potential symptoms of TB.