Editor Barr Defends Quarantine in 1900


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 2/13/1900.

All Honor to the Board of Health

This county is now in the greatest crisis of its history and it is well for the people that they have at the helm men who are fearless in the discharge of duty and fully aware of the danger of the situation.

Less than a month ago a case of smallpox was reported at or near, Alumn Bridge, in Lewis county, and although the people of that section, or a number of them, hooted at the idea, the contagion has so spread that there are now some twenty five or thirty cases in Gilmer county and we do not know how many in Ritchie county.  This county has lost one of its most respected citizens and the remaining members of his family at home now have the complaint.

Mr. Bennett contracted the disease at his office in Glenville, while in the ordinary discharge of the duties of his vocation, never at any time supposing that he had been exposed to it, until it was too late for the knowledge to be useful to him.

Traveling men right from the infected districts were going through this county and some seventy five timber men came down during a rise in the river, many of whom staid over night in Grantsville and the vicinity.  A drummer stopped at one of the hotels, after he had been with Mr. Bush, from whom Bennett got the disease, in his sick room on the third of his confinement.  Another gentleman by the name of Bush was on Yellow creek drafting timber for two or three days, and left their and went to Smithville and took down with the disease.  All these facts coming to the knowledge of the Board of health, composed of J.F. McDonald, G.W. Hays, Dr. J.P. Swentzel, Lemuel Huffman and McClellen Barr, made it their strict and imperative duty to do all and everything in their power to protect the lives of the citizens of this county.  They immediately placed a strict quarantine throughout the county, especially upon Brooksville, Grantsville, the Yellow creek and Steer creek sections and at every other place where they could learn that there was the least prospect for the spread of the contagion and with all the exposion herein enumerated they have confined the dread disease, so far, to a single residence in this county.  It is remarkable that they have been able to do so, because this disease for a thousand years, has been known to be the most contagative pestlilence that inflicts the human race as well as the most repulsive and one of the deadliest enemies known to man.

Some persons, without information or with untrue information, were combating the Board, under the belief that no smallpox existed, and even after the death of Mr. Bennett there were people who refused to believe that he was not up and about. There were people in this town who objected to being quarantined, and then business stopped and others out of town who thought they ought to be allowed to come into this exposed village, and, possibly, carry out with them the germs of the disease to their neighbors and their families.

We believe the worst is now past, but we are not by any means, out of danger, and this paper is glad that we have a Board determined to protect this county by all means within its power.  We doubt if in all the history of quarantine proceedings, a more successful barrier has been interposed between the people and this dread calamity than has been done by this Board, and at all times giving thanks to the God of Heaven for his protection, we should not forget the energetic actions of his servants who compose the Board of Health.