A Smallpox “Suspect” On His Way
To Cincinnati To Get Married.
He Created Consternation at the
Police Station and Was Prompt-
ly Ordered Out.
Commanding officers of the police force, with one exception, are anticipating much amusement this winter from smallpox scares, and the fun began last night. It resulted in a serious discussion whether or not there should be a large sign over the walk in front of the City Dispensary for the guidance of persons afflicted with smallpox, who invariably inquire in the police department for the dispensary. John Lane, colored, entered the office of the police desk sergeant about roll call time. All the sergeants were present, including Sergeant Lowe, who, on one occasion last winter, jumped from a window to get away from a smallpox “suspect.” Lane’s face was disfigured, and he no more than got inside of the room when someone said “smallpox.” Captain Dawson was holding a consultation behind closed doors, but Sergeant Lowe disturbed the conference to get away. Lane did not have a chance to make explanations, but was required at once to leave the room. He had before been in the dispensary and by the doctors there sent to the police department.
Lane said he had been working for a dental company in Chicago and on Monday last, while taking a bottle of sulphuric acid from a shelf, let it fall, turning the contents of the bottle on his face, badly burning it. He was unable to work and was given a pass, he claims, to Cincinnati. At Champaign, Ill., he lost the pass and was put off the train. His face was broken out and all to whom he applied for assistance turned him away, thinking he had smallpox. Finally the city authorities gave him a pass to get rid of him. The transportation furnished did not take him much beyond the county line and there again he was put off. He again applied for transportation and had no difficulty in securing it, and got a little farther on his way. He finally landed in Crawfordsville, where it was thought he had smallpox, and he was furnished with a ticket to Indianapolis. Physicians in Crawfordsville telegraphed the Board of Health here, and Dr. Ferguson was sent to the City Dispensary, where Lane had been instructed to go, to investigate. He found no trace of smallpox, and gave the man a letter to that effect. Lane had no money and as his only means of securing transportation had been spoiled, he knew not how he was going to get to Cincinnati. He was also much worried over the reception he would receive on his arrival there, saying he was going there to get married, but was afraid his affianced would go back on him because of the disfigurement.
Dr. Ferguson, while talking with Sergeant Lowe, told a story of the tendency to discredit a physician’s diagnosis of a case as smallpox, saying that when he was in a small town about a week ago he found every house in the village contained victims of the disease. He was standing in the hotel talking to a local doctor, who contended the afflicted did not have smallpox. Finally, after a number of men said they believed the diagnosis of their local physician, one of them asked Dr. Ferguson if he had examined the patients. He said he had and then the question came, “Have you been with them to-day?” “Yes,” said the doctor. “Well, did you change your clothes or disinfect them afterward?”
“No,” said Dr. Ferguson, “I forgot all about that. I believe I’ll have to do that now – “ but before he had finished the room was clear. His hearers evidently wished to take no chances.
No Cases at Salem.
Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
SALEM, Ind., Jan. 28 – There are no cases of smallpox in Salem nor nearer than several miles. The disease is confined to Gibson township, where it originated, with three new cases across the line in Monroe township, but no deaths. The report that Dr. Mayfield, health officer, has been threatened by Salem citizens is denied by him. The doctors of Salem are having all they can do to vaccinate all who come voluntarily. There are a few cases of violation of the quarantine, but all such offenders may have to answer for these violations as their names are taken and prosecutions will follow.
“John Lane’s Troubles,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 29 January 1900, p. 8, col. 6; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).