Lawrenceburg Swept Up In 1833 Cholera Outbreak

Terry Foody

Last night, the Anderson County Senior Center hosted a community program from the Kentucky Humanities Council titled “Infectious Disaster! The 1833 Lexington Cholera Epidemic.”  Terry Foody, author of the book, “The Pie Seller, The Drunk and The Lady: Heroes of the 1833 Cholera Epidemic in Lexington Kentucky” came to the center to lecture about this tragic epidemic that affected so many in the region.

Back in 1833, Lexington was stricken with one of the worst outbreaks of a disease that took 10% of the population. Cholera, a waterborne infectious disease, originated from people traveling to the area from Europe. Back during a time when pigs and cows ran in the streets and with no organized waste collections, local city centers were very vulnerable.  And when the privies overflowed during heavy ran, people became easy victims of this deadly disease that spread quickly and took so many lives through dehydration. This left many people fearing for their lives. Doctors were not sure how to treat it, and many of them along with many people left their homes and communities to protect themselves.

Unfortunately, Lawrenceburg did not escape this horrible tragedy. During the months of June and July of 1833, Lawrenceburg was struck with its own epidemic of cholera.  The city suffered a loss of 89 people including a number of entire families that perished. The local doctors and residents tried various methods but all ultimately failed. The only way left for people to save their lives was to leave the city.  Lawrenceburg became mostly deserted except for a few brave families who stayed behind. It is documented that all but one doctor left as well.  The epidemic eventually subsided and the residents returned.  But cholera wasn’t yet done.  Twenty two years later, it struck the city again, but this time it wasn’t as severe.  As history progressed and modern plumbing and sewer lines were installed, cholera quickly disappeared into the history books for our town.

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Posted in History & Heritage, Senior News.

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