Tag Archives: Dr. Charles H. Wolfe

Smallpox Epidemic, Part XXXVII

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-02-24 (Smallpox epidemic)QUARANTINE IS FARCICAL.
Smallpox Situation Steadily Growing
Worse – Change of Sentiment

Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
CLAY CITY, Ind., Feb. 23. – The so-called quarantine for smallpox at this place seems to be a miserable failure in every respect, except in the way of killing business and saddling on the town an enormous debt. Person broken out with the disease get out on the street and mingle with the crowd, and the only action taken so far to prevent a repetition of the act has been to send them home on a promise to be good.

A pesthouse was rigged up several weeks ago, but no person has been required to occupy it yet, thought the quarantine has been violated repeatedly. Many person have been released from quarantine while covered with sores, and permitted to go on the streets and into places of business while in this condition. Persons who do not care to come in contact with the disease have frequently been compelled to go out of their way or retreat from such cases.

It is reported that butter is being brought to market from farmhouses where there are smallpox patients.

All the practicing physicians, except Dr. Wolfe, now agree that the disease is smallpox. There seems to be a much greater per cent of bad cases now than formerly. Public opinion has undergone quite a change since Dr. Hurty first pronounced the disease smallpox. Then he was denounced as an alarmist and a crank. Now almost everybody says he is right and that an “effective” quarantine would be the proper thing. About a dozen houses have been carded within the last week, and unless more stringent measures are resorted to it will be a long time till the disease is stamped out.

“Quarantine Is Farcical,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 24 February 1900, p. 2, col. 5; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).

Smallpox Epidemic, Part XX

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-02-03 (Smallpox epidemic)REPORT FROM CLAY CITY
“Special Deputy” Discouraged
Over Smallpox Situation.

Dr. Wolfe Making Stump Speeches –
Dr. A. W. Brayton’s Visit to
Terre Haute

Secretary Hurty, of the State Board of Health, yesterday received a rather discouraging report from his special deputy, who he sent to Clay City to investigate the smallpox situation there. As a result of the report from the deputy, Secretary Hurty says he will go to Brazil, Clay county, to-day.

The report says that while the disease is probably under control at Clay City, Dr. Wolfe, who diagnosed the disease as chicken pox in the first place, is making stump-speeches on the street, declaring that the malady is still an infection of chicken pox. The report says that Dr. Wolfe is joined in giving these “lectures” by William E. Smith. There has been one death at Clay City. This was little Effie Smith, who died on the fifth day after falling ill. Dr. Hurty’s deputy says that in Lewis township, Clay county, there is a great deal of the disease and seeming nothing is being done to prevent its spread. In commenting on the situation the special deputy says: “I fear there will be many fatalities here yet.”

Dr. A. W. Brayton says he was not called to Terre Haute to diagnose smallpox as was sated in an evening paper. He had no seen a case of smallpox since he was at Clay City, on Jan. 19. His object was to arrange with the City Health Board of Terre Haute in regard to some matters of quarantine.

Dr. Brayton says there had been but three or four cases in Terre Haute and that the Health Board, Drs. Willian, Rice and Gerstmeyer, are perfectly familiar with smallpox and chicken pox, and have recognized every case on sight. The first case is recovering in the detention house. A Normal student, well broken out, has been quarantined in his mother’s house and is doing well. Dr. Willian has one suspicious case under quarantine. Allison Peck, who left the city while fully broken out Wednesday night, went at once to his home in Canton, Ill., two hundred miles from Terre Haute. His case was at once recognized and he was promptly quarantined by the Canton Health Board, and this board conferred with Dr. Willian by telephone.

Dr. Brayton says there is little to fear from smallpox in Terre Haute as the people are vaccinating, and the Health Board is active, kind and considerate, and has the esteem and confidence of the people. There is little danger from smallpox, the doctor says, in college towns, as the influence of all the higher schools, both professors and the student body, is in favor of vaccination. He does not expect a wide spread of the disease in the State as the physicians through reading, study of cases, and continued agitation, are quickly recognizing even the mild smallpox, and the people are aiding them more and more, and abiding by their decisions. Dr. Brayton says there has been very general approval of the decision of the Supreme Court, giving boards the right to vaccinate in times of epidemic.

The school authorities of Terre Haute are considering the subject. Probably nine-tenths of the students in the higher schools and colleges are now vaccinated. The boarding house room where Allison Peck lived for four days has been purified and the house will go on as before, as Peck did not mix with the boarders.

Effie Smith, a Thirteen-Year-Old Clay
City Girl, the Victim.

CLAY CITY, Ind., Feb. 2. – Effie Smith, the thirteen-year-old daughter of Frank Smith, is death’s first victim of smallpox at this place. The premonitory symptoms began last Sunday. The eruption appeared and the fever subsided Tuesday, but the secondary fever made its appearance Thursday, and speedily developed unusual virulence. The victim died shortly after 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon. Severe hemorrhages were a feature of the later course of the disease. Dr. Fred and Dr. Vandivier, who attended the case, have reported other recent instances of hemorrhages in connection with smallpox, but no deaths have occurred.

“Report From Clay City,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 3 February 1900, p. 8, col. 6; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).

Smallpox Epidemic, Part IV

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-01-19 (Smallpox epidemic)CLAIM IT IS CHICKEN-POX

Residents Of Clay City Indig-
nant Over Dr. Hurty’s Report.

Details of Some of the Cases-All of
the Persons Attacked Recovering,
and None Causing Alarm.

To the Editor of the Indianapolis Journal:

In your issue of Jan. 16, space is given to a sensational article headed, “In an Epidemic Form,” in which many conditions are reported that are without foundation, and, in fact, there are but few statements that have even the shadow of the reality about them. First, it is stated that the disease appeared only a few days ago in a small mining town of six or seven hundred inhabitants. Now, I do not believe in suppressing any real facts regarding this epidemic, and the people of Clay City are not only willing, but anxious that the true facts be made public. What we do object to is such sensational, false and seemingly malicious articles, as the Journal published Jan. 16. Therefore, we wish the commonwealth of Indiana to be apprised of the real facts and ask the Journal to give a public a place to this article as was given the damaging falsehood in the issue of Jan. 16.

The facts are as follows, and every statement can be supported with unimpeachable affidavits: Clay City is a thriving little city of from two thousand to twenty-five hundred inhabitants, and the disease which exists here has been in epidemic form since October. Herbert Wiltse, a boy some ten or twelve years old and a son of W. C. Wiltse, an attorney, attended a street fair in Washington, Daviess county, and was attacked with an eruptive disease soon after his return. Dr. C. H. Wolfe was called, and, after a careful examination, pronounced the case chicken-pox in a light form. This is the first recorded case. Some are reported weeks before where no doctor was called. The disease spread rapidly, both among young and old, some having considerable fever and chill, while others experienced no inconvenience whatever.

Pardon me for referring to my own family, but in it I can show the working of the disease. On Dec. 12, 1899, my daughter, Ruth, aged twelve years, was attacked with headache, chilly sensations and some aching of the body. On Dec. 16 she was completely broken out, and as soon as the eruption appeared the fever abated and never returned, and she felt no more inconvenience, except from the itching sensation.

On Dec. 29, Emma Hayman, a domestic in my family, was taken very much in the same manner, and the history of one case very closely fits the other. On Jan. 1, 1900, our babe, then nine days old, broke out thickly with the disease, but if she was ever sick or had any fever from it we failed to detect it, and as far as we could judge she experienced no inconvenience until the scaling off, when she was fretful until we would anoint her body, showing plainly that itching was the only trouble. When the babe was only eight days old my wife was attacked with chill and fever of extremely short duration, then the eruption. Of these four cases, three had had chicken-pox and my wife had been successfully vaccinated. This is the history of 99 per cent of the cases. Vaccination does not affect it and the fact that one has had the chicken-pox cuts no figure.

In the Journal of the 16th it was said “the local Board of Health became alarmed and telegraphed Dr. Hurty.” I personally interviewed the board, and Dr. Modesitt, who is the secretary, stated positively that the board had not sent for the state secretary at all.

The local physicians have not been, and are not now, in the least alarmed. It was also stated that “many of the cases have assumed the confluent form, which proves beyond doubt the identity of the disease.” In fact, there has not been a solitary case of the confluent form, and we defy Dr. Hurty to show to any intelligent physician who has had any experience whatever, a confluent case. We admit that some of the cases have been very thickly broken out, but the pustules have not in a single instance united their contents, or, in other words, there has been no confluence of the eruptions. There has not been a case where the least concern has been felt as to the prognosis.

It was also stated that “when the citizens became aware that it had been diagnosed smallpox they became frantic and began packing their effects preparatory to leaving the town, but they were too late, as the quarantine was too strict.” This is erroneous in each and every particular. I think I am safe in saying that 90 percent of the inhabitants ridicule the idea of smallpox and hoot at Dr. Hurty as an “alarmist and fake.”  If there has been a solitary case of fright it has failed to come to light. Some indeed declare they will not stay at home. Others believe the infected houses should be quarantined, but in no case has any fear been displayed. The statement of a quarantine is also untrue, as none exists and none has been ordered. On the day of the issue in question a public election was held in Clay City for the purpose of voting on the appropriation to the C., B. & T. H. Railroad. If a strict quarantine existed think you a public election could be indulged in?

You state that all mails are disinfected. That is also false, as postmaster C. C. Fesler had heard nothing of it until the evening of Jan. 17, when I asked him regarding it. Dr. Hurty did not even advise the quarantining the members of families where the contagion exists, but said to Dr. H. C. Wolfe to let them go about their work unless they themselves were attacked.

Dr. J. N. Hurty came here, visited a few cases and pronounced it not smallpox, but modified smallpox. Dr. Wolfe asked what he meant by modified smallpox, and what do you think his answer was? It was this, “I don’t know.” Dr. Wolfe said, “Our people have not been vaccinated to any extent, and therefore vaccination has not modified the disease, and that is the only modifier I know of for smallpox.” All the worthy official Dr. Hurty would say was it was modified smallpox, and when the local physician asked regarding the accepted medical authorities he said, “Unfortunately that is their mistake, and they will have to take that out of their books.” In his estimation Dr. J. N. Hurty is the only authority. Now, when Hurty comes out to teach the local boards, why does he not give a reason? Why does he not treat the local physicians with some respect? At the depot he stated that Dr. Wolfe and Dr. M. A. Freed had never seen smallpox, when it is a patent fact that four of Dr. Wolfe’s cases, treated some years ago, were discussed with him by Dr. Wolfe. He also said Dr. Modesitt and Dr. Freed admitted their mistaken diagnosis and were now convinced that it was smallpox. Neither made any such admission and Dr. Freed said to me last night in an interview “I think yet, just as at first, that it is chicken-pox.”  Have the people of Clay county any right to doubt Dr. J. N. Hurty as authority? The people of Clay county have no confidence of his diagnosis of disease, but we are willing and anxious that each infected house be strictly quarantined and no member be allowed to leave the premises until a “bill of health” is granted by the Board of Health.

We also do not want our local physicians to follow the example set by Dr. J. N. Hurty. He visited cases of the disease, and, with only washing his hands in some disinfectant, went to the school building, then filled with children, also to the Free Methodist Church, also in session, in the same clothing and not disinfected, also to the hotel and thence to other towns. We want our physicians to use every precaution. We also wish to say to the Journal, do not publish such articles as the one in the issue 16th inst. Unless you can substantiate them. You have done our little city an injustice which you cannot wipe out. Dr. J. N. Hurty, if he used the statements accredited to him, has well nigh criminally falsified regarding the epidemic.

Dr. Wolfe said to me, “Say in your article it is not smallpox, but chicken-pox. Dr. Hurty can, because of his office, make me do as he says, but until he produces some authority and some argument he cannot make me believe the disease is other than chicken-pox, and I have treated smallpox and I have had varillold fever.” Dr. Freed stated “I think now, as at first, it is only chicken-pox.” Both physicians favor isolation of families where the contagion exists.
Clay City, Ind., Jan. 18.

[Everything that has been published in the Journal concerning the smallpox scare at Clay City was based upon information furnished by the State Board of Health. – The Editor.]


Nine New Cases of Smallpox Have
Been Reported.

The State Board of Health received word yesterday of nine new cases of smallpox in Vanderburg county, which were said by the local health officer to have appeared since the first of the month. The board also received word that there were many new cases in Clay county, one or two cases of which are said to be very serious.

The fact that the disease has broken out again proves conclusively that the quarantine regularions are not closely observed. Dr. Hurty said that the disease was now prevalent in fourteen counties of the State, which includes the counties of Greene, Washington, Jackson, Clay, Noble, Vigo, Vanderburg, Delaware, Madison, Sullivan, Owen, Posey, Floyd and Clark.

Dr. Hurty received word yesterday from Washington county that the quarantine had been raised in that county, as the disease had been thoroughly stamped out by a rigid inforcement of the quarantine laws. The State Board of Health is doing every thing possible to master the epidemic and Dr. Hurty said yesterday if the infected districts would help themselves by observing the quarantine regulations it would not be long before the disease would be under control.

“Claim It Is Chicken-Pox,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 19 January 1900, p. 8, col. 4-5; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).