Tag Archives: Dr. James A. Modesitt

Smallpox Epidemic, Part LV

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-03-20 (Smallpox epidemic)People Averse to Disinfection

The State Board of Health was notified by Dr. Modesitt, health officer at Clay City, yesterday that he had met with forcible opposition in his effort to disinfect homes in Clay City and asked for instructions. Dr. Hurty sent instructions to Dr. Modesitt to arrest all the offenders and then to disinfect the homes.

A new case of smallpox was reported from West Lebanon, Warren county.

“People Averse to Disinfection,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 20 March 1900, p. 8, col. 1; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).

Smallpox Epidemic, Part XXVII

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-02-10, p. 5 (Smallpox epidemic)NOT SO MANY CASES
Rigor of Quarantine Checks Smallpox
at Clay City.

Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
CLAY CITY, Ind., Feb. 9. – There has been a perceptible decrease in the number of smallpox cards within the last week, due to the great stringency of the quarantine. Owing to the mildness of the disease a few persons fail to give Health Officer Modesitt the support due him. At one place where quarantine exists the persons quarantined drink from a dipper chained to a pump on the sidewalk, and many other persons drink from the same dipper. A few who have not had the disease deliberately go into quarantined places for milk and butter. The Griffith family was quarantined on account of a boy fourteen years old. The quarantine was lifted at the end of fourteen days, and a few days later it was accidentally discovered that the boy’s father and mother were sick, and again the house was carded. To-day the boy was running about the streets in the south part of town. He was reported to the health officer, who will take steps that will prevent a repetition of the act and perhaps deter others from doing the same thing.

A young man named Drummond was on the streets Tuesday broken out with the disease and several persons chased him away. On the following day the house was carded. It is reported that the quarantine will be made more rigid from this time on. The disease has been in about 150 families, and it is estimated that it will average three cases to a family.

Soldiers’ Home Quarantined.

Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
DANVILLE, Ill., Feb. 9. – On account of a well-developed case of varioloid in the Danville National Soldiers’ Home that institution was put under rigorous quarantine at 6 o’clock this evening.

“Not So Many Cases,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 10 February 1900, p. 5, col. 5; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).

Smallpox Epidemic, Part XXVI

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-02-09 (Smallpox epidemic)BETTER CONDITIONS
Prevail at Clay City Now in Regard
to Smallpox

The State Board of Health received a letter from Dr. Modesitt, health officer of Clay City, in which he states that the local Board of Health is gradually conquering the epidemic, and he thinks it will only be a short time until the disease will be thoroughly eradicated from the town. As evidence of the good work that has been done by a close observance of the quarantine laws, Dr. Modesitt states that, on Jan. 25, there were sixty-five houses which were quarantined in Clay City, and one hundred patients, whereas, on Feb. 8, there were but forty houses quarantined, with seventy-one cases.

Four Cases at Albany

Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
PORTLAND, Ind., Feb. 8. – At a conference of the City Council, School Board and county and city health officers, held in the Council room to-day, measures were taken to have a rigid quarantine in effect against the town of Albany, where four cases of smallpox are said to exist. The School Board was also directed to have all pupils vaccinated. Two persons – Mrs. Guy Gilbert and Miss Clara Smith – have come in from Albany, both being placed in quarantine until all danger of contagion is past. Officers have been posted to watch the trains and roads.

“Better Conditions,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 8 February 1900, p. 8, col. 4; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).

Smallpox Epidemic, Part IX

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-01-24 (Smallpox epidemic)STATE BOARD INDORSED.
Resolutions Adopted by the Marion
County Medical Society.

The Marion County Medical Society held its regular monthly meeting last night and there was some discussion of the smallpox situation in the State. Dr. Cline offered the following resolution, which was adopted, to be presented to Dr. J. N. Hurty and the members of the State Board of Health:

“Resolved, That the Marion County Medical Society extends to Dr. J. N. Hurty and the State Board of Health its hearty approval of their efforts to prevent the spread of the prevailing epidemic of smallpox throughout the State.”

Dr. Loren Hyde read an interesting paper on “Anesthetics: Chloroform or Ether. Which is Preferable?” This subject opened a lively discussion and it seemed to be the voice of the surgeons present that in certain cases chloroform was the proper anesthetic while in other cases either should be used.

New Cases in Clay County.

Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
BRAZIL, Ind., Jan. 23 – Five cases of smallpox are reported from Ashboro and vicinity to-day, and some new cases have developed in Clay City, notwithstanding the quarantine. The secretary of the City Board of Health, Dr. Glasgo, has given orders for everyone to be vaccinated at once to prevent the spread of the disease to this city. Seven hundred tubes of virus have been purchased by physicians here.

Dr. Modesitt Is Doing His Duty.

To the Editor of the Indianapolis Journal:
The imputation of some newspaper correspondents that the health officer here, Dr. Modesitt, is disregarding the quarantine order, needs to be refuted. I think I reflect the opinion of 99 per cent, of the citizens when I say the charge is untrue. The doctor has five assistants of sterling character, and, together, they are doing their best to prevent the spread of the disease (co-called smallpox.) Every house where it exists, or where it is supposed to exist, is promptly quarantined, and every suspected case kept in. Every person known to come from infected neighborhood is closely scrutinized and questioned, and if suspected is given order to go in and stay in till further orders. Dr. Modesitt is to[o] well known in this county for any of the citizens to believe he would neglect so important a trust. No safer man could be found for the position.
Clay City, Ind., Jan 23.

“State Board Indorsed,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 24 January 1900, p. 8, col. 4; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 6 December 2014).

Smallpox Epidemic, Part VII

Indianapolis Journal - 1900-01-22 (Smallpox epidemic)VERY FEW NEW CASES
The Smallpox Situation In Dif-
ferent Parts Of The State

Dr. Hurty Says the Disease Is Yet in a
Mild Form-Cases in the City
-At Clay City.

Dr. J. N. Hurty, of the State Board of Health, in speaking of the smallpox conditions last night said that a number of new cases had been reported to him from Putnam, Clay and Miami counties and that in his opinion the conditions were becoming serious. “You might as well say,” said he, “it is going to be everywhere. Might as well locate it everywhere in the State, for that is what it is coming to.” He said all precautions necessary were being taken to prevent the spread of the disease, but the people, and especially those living in Clay county, think on account of the present mild form of the disease there is but little danger and that they are at liberty to carry the disease wherever they see fit to go, with no regard for the quarantine. A large majority of the cases reported have been traced to Clay City. One case at Peru and another from Putnam county reported yesterday were in families members of which had recently come from Clay City.

“The death rate,” said Dr. Hurty, “will be greatly increased this year. Possibly not from deaths by smallpox, which is now of a mild form, but from the after effects, just the same as with the grip.  You know people used, seven or eight years ago, to laugh at the grip and the papers were full of cartons on the subject. But during the last few years they have learned that the grip in no joke. In fact, it has been shown to be more fatal than a number of other diseases more dreaded. It will be the same with smallpox. I think, though, the people will understand this after awhile and we will get it stopped.”

Dr. Hurty said he had been advised yesterday that a doctor in Vanderburg county had been fined there a day or two ago for not reporting a case of smallpox to the Board of Health.

In Indianapolis there have been no new cases reported. A. C. Burnham and wife, of 330 North Beville avenue, were removed yesterday from their home to the contagious pavilion at the City Hospital, where they will be cared for better than at home. The house was closed and will be disinfected to-day. It will then be disinfected two or three times and the quarantine raised, thus relieving the city of the expense of keeping up the quarantine. Burnham and his wife have the disease in a very mild form and as it was found soon after breaking out it is thought few exposures resulted and there will be no new cases develop from this source.

City Sanitarian Clark said the matter of building a pesthouse would be presented to the city authorities this morning, with rough plans of the building, which will, as now considered, accommodate thirty to fifty patients and it is thought the necessary permission to use the grounds will be given. The contagion pavilion at the hospital, which is not connected in any way with other wards at the hospital, will accommodate at least twenty patients.

Drs. Hurty, Clark, Ridpath and Ferguson, who were called upon to investigate a case in the home of a man named Leffingwell, on Linwood avenue, near Michigan street, reported yesterday that the afflicted child had chickenpox instead of smallpox.

Smallpox at Clay City.
Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
CLAY CITY, Ind., Jan. 21. – Health Officer Dr. Modesitt has had considerable difficulty in trying to keep smallpox suspects off the street, but with the aid of deputies he is getting them pretty well under control. The doctor is working day and night to secure the enforcement of the order and the people, with a few exceptions, are aiding him in the attempt to confine the disease to places where it now exists.

A few new cases are being reported, but mostly in localities where it already existed. The older cases are all reported better and but few are confined to their beds. No deaths have occurred. All outgoing mails are being disinfected. Every precaution is being taken to prevent the persons who have the disease and those from houses where it exists from going to the postoffice.

Five cases just east of here, in Owen county, were reported to Dr. Modesitt this morning and he reported them to the Spencer Health Board. A few cases have been reported here from Centerville, Jasonville and from the country west of here four miles. As far as heard from they are all mild cases.

Refuse to Get Excited.
Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
TERRE HAUTE, Ind., Jan 21. – Terre Haute physicians and public at large refuse to be excited over the reports made by the Indianapolis doctors of the spread of smallpox in this part of the State. The physicians say there have been cases of chickenpox here and that one case, now isolated, may be smallpox, but they believe that it is not true, as asserted, that all of the cases at Clay City could have been smallpox. It is possible that the appearance of smallpox and chickenpox is a coincidence. Reports have been received from many places near here of chickenpox, and in some instances it has been so prevalent that schools were closed for lack of attendance.

Smallpox in De Kalb County.
Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
BUTLER, Ind., Jan 21. – A great many cases of smallpox have developed twelve miles south of this city. Members of the Tracy, Bishop and Furnace families are down with the disease. Hicksville, O., physicians have had charge of the cases and failed to report them to the Indiana authorities. Much excitement is manifest.

“A Few New Cases,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 22 January 1900, p. 8, col. 4; 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).