Plagues by state, city, date
This list of epidemics and plagues may help people confirm how ancestors died. And it can add to the history of a person's family, to know what happened in a certain state while a family was living there.
- CA, San Francisco, 1/1/1900, Plague
- 1890s The third plague pandemic began in China in the 1850s and spread slowly until it reached the
seaports in the 1880s, then spread more rapidly around the world, striking particularly hard in India,
Egypt and north Africa, and South America. The continental U.S. was largely spared, but Hawaii
suffered a severe outbreak in 1899, and San Francisco was affected in 1900-1904, and again in
1907-1909. The second outbreak there was exacerbated by unsanitary conditions following the
earthquake of 1906. Sporadic outbreaks continued worldwide for years, and officially this pandemic
was not considered over until 1959.
- CA, San Francisco, 4/18/1906, Earthquake
- San Francisco earthquake. Best guess is 1000+ killed.
- CT, , 1/1/1747, Measles
- Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania & South Carolina: Measles
- DE, Dover, 1/1/1793, Unknown
- Delaware (Dover): "extremely fatal" bilious disorder
- ENG, London, 1/1/1563, Bubonic plague in London
- 1560s Bubonic plague struck London again in 1563, and was probably its worst outbreak ever,
killing an estimated quarter to a third of the population. Subsequent outbreaks occurred in 1578,
1593, 1603, 1625, 1636, and 1665, each time killing thousands. In terms of proportion of the total
population destroyed, the 1563 and 1665 epidemics were the worst.
- EUR, Europe, 1/1/1340, Black plague
- 1340-1360 Black plague in Europe kills 1/3 of population.
- GA, Savannah, 1/1/1826, Dengue fever
- 1826-28 Dengue fever spread from Savannah, Georgia, to other cities along the southeastern coast,
and through the Caribbean.
- HI, Hawaii, 1/1/1853, Smallpox
- Smallpox was introduced to Hawaii by a ship arriving from San Francisco. At least 2500
people died, possibly as many as 5,000.
- IL, Coles Co., 1/1/1851, Cholera
- LA, New Orleans, 1/1/1847, Yellow fever
- LA, New Orleans, 1/1/1852, Yellow fever
- Nationwide: Yellow Fever (New Orleans: 8,000 die in summer)
- LA, New Orleans, 1/1/1878, Yellow Fever (last great epidemic of disease)
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1666, Small pox in Boston
- A smallpox outbreak struck Boston, but was relatively mild, and only about 40 people died.
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1677, Smallpox in Boston
- 1677-78 Another smallpox epidemic in Boston was much worse than the 1666 epidemic, and killed
several of the town leaders.
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1702, Smallpox
- Smallpox hit Boston again. This time about 300 died, but a simultaneous outbreak of
scarlet fever makes it hard to assess who died from what.
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1713, Measles
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1721, Small pox
- Smallpox struck Boston again, with about 6000 people affected in a total population of
11,000, of whom 844 died. This epidemic prompted the first use of inoculation against smallpox in
the New World.
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1729, Measles
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1739, Measles
- MA, Boston, 1/1/1763, Smallpox
- 1763-64 Smallpox hit Boston once again, with about 170 deaths. This epidemic was less serious than
previous ones, probably because of inoculation.
- MO, Missouri, 1/1/1837, Smallpox
- Smallpox started with a Sioux tribe in Missouri in June 1837, then spread to Blackfoot and
other tribes in Montana and Saskatchewan. The last previous outbreak among the Blackfoot had
been in 1781, so by 1837 most of the population was susceptible.
- MO, Missouri, 1/1/1851, Cholera
- NE, , 1/1/1802, Smallpox
- Smallpox killed about two thirds of the Omaha Indians in what is now northeast Nebraska.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1668, Yellow fever
- Probably the earliest recorded epidemic of yellow fever non-tropical America, striking New
York in late summer and early fall of 1668, and described as an "autumnal bilious fever in infectious
form". The contemporary descriptions leave some possibility open that it could have been some other
disease, but yellow fever seems the most likely.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1702, Yellow fever
- Yellow fever struck New York, killing more than 500 people over a three-month period, which
was probably about 10% of the population at the time.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1743, Yellow fever
- 1743-1745 Yellow fever struck New York again. A correlation with the dockyard areas was
noticed, but mosquitoes were still not recognized as the vector.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1788, Measles
- NY, New York, 1/1/1789, Influenza (flu)
- A widespread epidemic of influenza hit New England, New York and Nova Scotia in fall 1789.
Most deaths appear to have been from secondary pneumonia.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1803, Yellow fever
- NY, New York, 1/1/1834, Cholera
- NY, New York, 1/1/1849, Cholera
- NY, New York, 1/1/1863, Cholera
- 1863-66 The fourth cholera pandemic of the 19th century began in India in 1863, spread first to the
middle east, and then into the Mediterranean. It arrived in New York on a ship coming from France
in October 1865, and spread rapidly. Public health reform kept the death toll lower than in previous
epidemics, but there were tens of thousands of deaths nonetheless. Another wave swept through the
south and midwest in 1873, hitting particularly hard in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1868, Smallpox
- 1868-75 Smallpox outbreaks hit New York, Philadelphia and other cities, and it was discovered that
many children had not been vaccinated. The New York City Board of Health recommended that all
residents be vaccinated in 1870, but there was widespread public resistance, since the vaccine itself
was not without risk, and people perceived the campaign as creating a panic situation and allowing
doctors to profit from it.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1901, Smallpox
- 1901-03 Smallpox had its last major outbreak in the urban northeast U.S., beginning in New York
and spreading through other major cities.
- NY, New York, 1/1/1907, Polio
- 1907-1916 Polio turned into a major problem in the U.S., with about a thousand cases in New York
in 1907, and another outbreak in 1911. The disease was recognized as contagious, but there was no
understanding yet of exactly how it was spread. The first widespread outbreak, seriously affecting 26
states, occurred in 1916. About 7,000 deaths were recorded.
- OH, Columbus, 1/1/1833, Cholera
- PA, Harrisburg, 1/1/1793, Unexplained deaths from disease
- PA, mult., 1/1/1860, Smallpox
- PA, Philadelphia, 1/1/1788, Measles
- PA, Philadelphia, 1/1/1793, Yellow fever
- One of the worst.
- PA, Philadelphia, 1/1/1794, Yellow fever
- PA, Philadelphia, 1/1/1796, Yellow fever
- PA, Philadelphia, 1/1/1837, Typhus
- PA, Plymouth, 1/1/1885, Typhoid
- PA, Schuylkyl, 1/1/1820, Fever
- starts on Schuylkill River, PA & spreads
- SC, , 1/1/1738, Smallpox
- SC, Charleston, 1/1/1699, Yellow fever
- Charleston SC had an epidemic, the first there to be positively identified as yellow fever;
probably about 160-190 died.
- SC, Charleston, 1/1/1706, Yellow fever
- Charleston SC was struck with yellow fever again. About 5% of the population died.
- SC, Charleston, 1/1/1728, Yellow fever
- Charleston SC was hit by yellow fever twice in a four year period. The cause
(mosquitoes) was not understood, and treatment wasn't very effective.
- SC, Charleston, 1/1/1850, Dengue fever
- 1850-51 An extensive epidemic of dengue fever began in Charleston SC, then spread to Savannah,
Augusta, New Orleans, Mobile, Galveston, and other southern coastal cities.
- SWE, Sweden, 1/1/1887, Polio
- Paralytic polio was first described in an epidemic in Sweden.
- US, Great plains, 1/1/1851, Cholera
- US, many, 1/1/1732, Influenza worldwide
- US, many, 1/1/1772, Measles
- US, many, 1/1/1832, Cholera
- 1826-37 The second cholera pandemic of the 19th century, and the most devastating one, began in
Bengal and spread through India in 1826. It reached Afghanistan in 1827, and spread further into
central Asia and the middle east. By late 1830 it had reached Moscow, and from there spread
westward into Europe in 1831. It reached England on a ship from Hamburg in October 1831 and
spread throughout the British Isles. It reached New York in 1832, and spread from there throughout
most of the U.S.
- US, many, 1/1/1861, Multiple diseases
- 1861-65 The U.S. Civil War brought epidemics of dysentery, typhoid fever, hepatitis, malaria,
smallpox, measles, and venereal diseases. More than three times as many soldiers died of infectious
disease than died of battle wounds.
- US, many, 1/1/1865, Mult. Diseases
- Philadelphia, New York, Boston, New Orleans, Baltimore,
Washington D.C.: a series of recurring epidemics of Smallpox, Cholera,
Typhus, Typhoid, Scarlet Fever & Yellow Fever
- US, many, 1/1/1889, Influenza
- 1889-90 A worldwide epidemic of influenza, the most devastating to that time, began in central Asia
in the summer of 1889, spread north into Russia, east to China and west to Europe. By December it
had struck the major U.S. cities, and continued to spread through North America the following year.
Parts of Africa and the middle east were infected early in 1890; and India, southeast Asia, Australia
and New Zealand were reached between February and May. Completing the circle, eastern China
had the last major outbreak of this pandemic, in September and October of 1890.
- US, many, 1/1/1918, Spanish influenza
- 1918-1920 Massive Spanish influenza outbreak in Spain and US.
1917-1919 The most lethal influenza pandemic ever killed half a million people worldwide. Its spread
was facilitated by troop movements in the closing months of World War I. Mortality rates were
unusually high for flu, especially among young, otherwise healthy adults. Deaths occurred both from
the flu itself and from secondary pneumonia.
- US, many, 1/1/31, Polio
- Another outbreak of polio swept the U.S. during the summer of 1931, killing more than 4,000
people, about 12 percent of the reported cases.
- US, multiple, 1/1/1878, Yellow fever
- 1878-79 Yellow fever again swept through New Orleans, Memphis, and the Mississippi and Ohio
- US, New England, 1/1/1735, Diphtheria and scarlet fever
- 1735-40 Epidemics of diphtheria and scarlet fever spread through various parts of New England.
Both diseases were referred to as "throat distemper" and weren't distinguished. Hundreds of people
died, most of them children. (Scarlet fever is strep throat with a rash.)
- US, New England, 1/1/1792, Yellow fever
- 1792-99 Yellow fever ravaged cities all along the east coast, including Charleston, Philadelphia, New
Haven, New York, and Baltimore. The outbreak in Philadelphia in the summer of 1793 was the most
severe, and most memorable. The disease was probably introduced from ships carrying French
refugees who were fleeing turmoil in Santo Domingo, and then spread by mosquitoes that bred in
stagnant water that in years with more rain had been waterways and canals. Ten percent of the
population in that city died, about 5,000 people altogether. The new city of Washington DC was
under construction at the time, and Philadelphia was the interim capital. Most of the government
officials fled the city, including George Washington and the members of his cabinet. Various
treatments were tried, none of them very effective, and controversy raged over the best way to
prevent and treat the disease. Cold weather finally brought an end to the outbreak, in late October.
- US, New England, 1/1/1893, Polio
- 1893-94 The first large recorded outbreak of polio in the U.S. began in Boston, and spread into
New England, particularly Vermont. Of 132 cases documented in Vermont, there were 18 deaths
and 30 victims left with permanent paralysis.
- US, Pacific NW, 1/1/1829, Malaria kills indians
- 1829-33 In the Pacific northwest, malaria killed an estimated 150,000 native Americans. Other
diseases may have contributed to the death toll, but contemporary writing describes symptoms that
closely correspond to those of malaria. The disease was probably introduced in February 1829 by a
ship reaching Oregon after coming from Chile, carrying infected mosquitoes in water tanks onboard
ship. The Columbia River was flooded at the time, creating stagnant water in which the mosquitoes
- US, south, 1/1/1841, Yellow Fever (especially severe in South)
- VA, , 1/1/1793, Influenza
- Virginia: Influenza (kills 500 people in 5 counties in 4 weeks)
- VT, , 1/1/1793, Influenza and "putrid fever"
A good source for plague links was: http://www.CyndisList.com/medical.htm