The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966 Page: 288
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
for many of them the Mississippi Basin proved to be a valley of
Lands, indeed, were rich and plentiful and the Indians but
a temporary menace, yet nature unfortunately had withheld the
one vital attribute which would permit the fullest enjoyment of
their labors--a healthy environment. The Great Valley of the
Mississippi did not yield to its intruders ungrudgingly; it struck
back at them with a plethora of deadly infections which "seemed
to stalk about seeking whom they [might] destroy."' These dis-
eases were seldom discerning, striking whoever was available
whenever conditions were amenable. Worse, they appeared with
predictable regularity, yet there was little or no defense against
them despite the availability of hundreds of patent medicines and
the presence of scores of quack doctors in nearly every frontier
In addition to a feverish acclimation to each new location,
newcomers to the valley soon learned that everyone had to endure
an annual sickly season-usually the months of July through Oc-
tober-during which diseases raged almost unchecked and at
near epidemic stages." The scourges of the valley and the terrors
of those sickly months were bilious fever and ague, the former
dysenteric, the latter malarial in nature. Referred to as autumnal
fevers, these maladies appeared during the late summer and at-
tacked a staggering proportion of valley residents until the chilly
winds of November sterilized the atmosphere. And if the accom-
panying body pains, bloody purgations, intense sweatings, and
"racking chills and fevers" did not claim the victims, they fre-
quently fell prey to far more deadly afflictions such as jaundice
or dropsy. But certainly the most feared, and unfortunately the
'William Blaney, "An Excursion Through the U.S. and Canada 1822-23," in
Harlow Lindley (ed.), Indiana as Seen by Early Travelers (Indianapolis, 1916),
285. Illinoians in the early 18oo's regarded disease as a much greater menace than
the Indians. Isaac D. Rawlings (ed.), The Rise and Fall of Disease in Illinois (2
vols.; Springfield, 1927), I, 29.
aJames Harvey Young, "American Medical Quackery in the Age of the Common
Man," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XLVII, 579-593. See also Madge E.
Pickard and R. Carlyle Buley, The Midwest Pioneer; His Ills, Cures, and Doctors
(New York, 1946).
8Alex Mackay, The Western World: Travels in the U.S. in 2846-47 (London,
1849), 302; Amos Stoddard, Sketches, Historical-Descriptive, of Louisiana (Phila-
delphia, 1812), 17o.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966, periodical, 1966; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/m1/348/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.