Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wistful Wednesday: Smallpox 1920

There was a small pox epidemic here in Minnesota in 1920.  Far Guy’s Grandma apparently had it.

From the Farm Diary:

December 28 1919 Sunday  Home thought Thresa had small pox kids and myself went to PR with Leo and got vacinated Esta came home with us

A Sunday…they must have went to the Doctors home.    Grandpa being a man of many words …didn’t say much more…he helped care for Grandma.  He took Esta back home on January 5th.  I think Esta was Esta Wilson a good friend of Grandmas.

THEN  17 days after Grandma had the small pox.

January 13 1920 Tuesday Finished wood in road cut brush  Marvin took small poxs

So apparently the vaccination didn’t work or the small pox was not as severe after the vaccination.  Again being wordy Grandpa doesn’t say much of anything else…he went about his daily chores.

******

Small pox was a winter-spring disease.  1/3 of the people who got it died.  It is passed through face to face contact. The incubation period was 7 to 17 days ( some references say 2 to 3 weeks) A high fever accompanies the rash which consists of lesions filled with fluid, after one or two weeks the lesions scab over and fall off leaving scars.   The rash is distinctive as the lesions are all in the same stage of development…no new ones form after the onset.  There were two forms of small pox Variola major and Variola minor.  Small Pox was only found in humans.

Marvin would have been almost six years old and Ronald would have been two years old.

Marvin 6yr  Ronald (2)

Grandma marked this photo 6 years Marvin  +  Ronald.  It was most likely taken in the summer of 1920.  Marvin is Far Guy’s Dad.

There is no mention of anyone else getting small pox.

I was vaccinated on my left arm and Far Guy was vaccinated on his right arm…we both have pox like scars from the vaccination as I am certain most of you do also.  I remember when I got my vaccination it got all red and then it formed a scab and I picked at it and made it bleed. I think they stopped giving small pox vaccinations in 1972, I have heard they have enough of the vaccine stockpiled for every person in the United States should it ever become a problem again.

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23 comments:

  1. Yes I do have a scar from the vaccination. But my mother had the dr give it to us on our leg, high up on the front of the upper thigh, so it didn't show. That surprises me as she was not one to worry about fashion and was not unconventional in other things. I hope that disease doesn't return as the mumps and measles have. Although I had had them all. Bet you did too?

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  2. Oh this is heartbreaking. I have the scar on my right arm. Hug B

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  3. I was vaccinated when I was a child also. Still have a faint scar.

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  4. You have such a treasure in knowing your family history.

    Still have my scar and remember being upset when my scab fell off. I think I thought it a badge of courage.

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  5. My folks had us get our vaccination on our hips. Dress code at that time was only dresses for the girls, so that meant the dress went up and the drawers down for the shot. Not that much fun with a bunch of classmates waiting in line.

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  6. I got a huge scar from my smallpox vaccination on my left upper arm. It never caused any problems but was unsightly I thought. I was born in 1929 so it was early days for vaccinations. I too had all the childhood diseases. I well remember having whooping cough - coughed a lot for a long time. I remember the mumps too. So good that now these diseases can be avoided.

    Shirley H.

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  7. Morning, what a adorable picture, you are so lucky to have the history along with pictures.Blessings Francine.

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  8. Still what a treasure to have that diary and photos too! Love the picture and interesting to read about the smallpox. I remember that vaccination and scar as well!

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  9. The photo is a wonderful piece of art.

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  10. Interesting reading from your hubby's grandparent's diary. Vaccines have eradicated many illnesses that were fatal not too many generations ago. I too have a smallpox scar on my arm!

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  11. Speaking of small pox scars.. my Mom, in England around the 1920's, received 4 small pox shots in a North-South-East-West pattern, in her upper arm, from a 'quack' doctor. He joined all shots together in a cross formation with a needle. She ended up with huge scars that were about an inch in diameter for each shot. But
    she never got small pox!
    barb, Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada

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  12. I, too, have a left arm scar--small price to pay. My daughter b. 1966 did get a small pox shot yet my son b. 1973 did not. When I read/hear about the measles -- I do wonder why anyone would not vaccinate. I love reading your Wednesday blog.....yes farm families worked hard and the men were of few words. Love reading your farm journal....you blog brings me many smiles.

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  13. I, too, have the scar.

    With the recent outbreaks of measles and mumps, I hope people take these "old" diseases more seriously.

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  14. I didn't have any shots when I was first born. My mom lost a child the next year so it didn't get done. I had all my shots in 1968 as the college would not let me in without them. The small pox shot was actually a round piece with prongs sticking out of it. Pushed hard into the skin breaking open five holes in my arm, scabs did follow. I don't think I have the scar anymore.

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  15. I don't know if I was or not. I love the photo, Ronald looks like he could've been a little mischief maker.

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  16. MAny people died from not only small pox,but also measles scarlet fever, chicken pox. At that time a high percentage of children did not live past their 5th birthday. We are fortunate today.

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  17. Whew, it's amazing (in a sad way) that only 95 years ago, smallpox apparently was still a relatively common disease. Thank goodness they got well. I can remember lectures from my mother about how I should not pick at the scab.

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  18. Yes, I still have my vaccination scar too. Vaccinations are in the news now, and those who decline them are causing the return of dangerous diseases.

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  19. I have my smallpox vaccination scar on my left arm. I don't remember having gotten it, though. I've forgotten a lot of stuff, I realize! :-)

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  20. Funny -- my mom made the doctor give us the vaccination on our thighs, so we'd look pretty in short sleeved dresses!

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  21. Funny -- my mom made the doctor give us the vaccination on our thighs, so we'd look pretty in short sleeved dresses!

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  22. I had the smallpox vaccination and I remember polio. I got the chicken pox and I also had mumps. I was complaining and my Mother(A nurse) wanted to see if I had the mumps so she had me bite into a pickle to make sure and evidently from my reaction she was convinced I did. Medical professionals are not always the most compassionate with their own families. They give it all to others.
    I also had terrible sore throats and appendicitis attacks and the doctors told her to have my tonsils out and my appendix but she believed those organs were there for a reason and she wanted me to keep them if at all possible and to this day I have them all still!

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  23. Mine's on my left arm. I never got a scab that I recall. It was all red and swollen for a time and then faded away, I thought--but my memory isn't what it used to be--LOL! ;)

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie