Typed and Donated by ©Susan Cook

**Definitions for diseases can be found at the end of this listing**

©Illinois Trails History and Genealogy

1674:  A diarrheal attack which kept Father Marquette encamped all winter near the mouth of the Chicago River established the first recorded illness within the boundary lines of what is now Illinois.

1675:  A surgeon, probably Louis Moreau, visited Father Marquette at Chicago portage on January 16.

1682:  Surgeon Jean Michel accompanied LaSalle through Illinois territory on the journey to the mouth of the Mississippi.

1700:  (Oct. 15)  Tertian fever attacked Father Jacques Gravier and two of his exploring party while in the neighborhood of the Junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

LeSuer described the river of the Mines at Galena, which the Indians later called the Fever River.

1711:  Missionary station established at Fort Massac, where the priests administered to the medical wants of the savages.

1712:  (Nov. 9)  Father Gabriel Marest wrote from the mission of Kaskaskia (the first):  "the care we ourselves have taken of the sick and the remedies that we give them which effect the cure of most sick persons have ruined the credit and reputations of the charlatans."

1720:  Fort de Chartres established; Pierre Ignace de la Flone served as surgeon major at this fort.

1760:  Alex. Henry reports that illness among Indians is rare and that sickness among the settlers was unknown, although mosquitoes abounded along the river, evidently not yet infected with malaria.

1763:  Dr. Auguste Conde appointed surgeon at Fort de Chartres.

1766:  Morgan complains of prevailing sickness from first of June to October in American Bottoms.

1767:  George Croghan reports that all the garrison at Fort de Chartres are ill.

1768:  Highly fatal fever depletes the garrison at Fort de Chartres, sparing neither private nor officer, old nor young, male nor female.

1772:  The Trappist monks abandoned their first location in the American Bottoms because it was unhealthful.

1780:  A sever winter killed nearly all the game, with the result that the Indians nearly starved during the succeeding winters.

1782:  Dr. Israel Dodge settled in Kaskaskia. He was the first American physician to settle there.

1785:  A flood in the American Bottoms was followed by an epidemic among cattle, which spread to man.

1789:  Sever outbreaks of intermittent fever at Port Vincennes at Fort Knox.

1797:  Outbreaks of malignant fever proved fatal to one-half of a party of 154 Virginians who settled at Kaskaskia and New Design and to 126 who settled in Peoria.

1799:  (July 2)  A court of Quarter Sessions at Cahokia issued an order prohibiting anyone from crossing the river to the Spanish, because of smallpox.  First quarantine regulation in the State.

1803:  Bilious fever broke out among the troops at Fort Dearborn. Dr. William C. Smith arrives in Chicago, being the first regular physician to settle there.

1804:  Surgeon Forry, medical statistician of the army, makes a sanitary report upon the establishment of Fort Dearborn, declaring "This position is of our most salubrious stations."

1805:  (June)  A terrific tornado swept over the American Bottoms, making it a veritable lake.

1807:  Pandemic of influenza reached the Illinois country in October.

1808:  Dr. Daniel Drake says that scarlet fever began to appear in the Ohio Valley after this year.

1812:  An epidemic of smallpox led Dr. George Fisher, first speaker of the house of representatives of the Illinois Territory, to erect the first isolation hospital in what is now Illinois, which he called a house of refuge.

Bad health conditions starts depopulating movement in American Bottoms.

1815:  Madam Beulieu served as director general in moral and medical matters in Cahokia.  Zeuch refers to her as the first health officer in the State.

1817:  The Territorial General Assembly passed first Illinois Medical Practice Act.

1818:  State government established.  Illinois admitted to Union.

1819:  The stigma of unhealthfulness was fastened upon English Prairie.  the legislature passed a lottery law to promote drainage of American Bottoms and thereby improve health.

First medical practice and vital statistics laws passed by State legislature.

1820:  An epidemic occurred in the vicinity of Vincennes, which Dr. H. Smith believed was yellow fever.

The "cold plague" (probably influenza) struck White County.

1821:  Medical practice act of 1819 repealed.

A seven-year compilation of mortality and morbidity statistics for the garrison located on Fort Armstrong at Rock Island was published.

1822:  First vital statistics for the Chicago area recorded.

William Blaine in traveling through the southern part of the State, found that the people everywhere complained of illness.

1824:  Another pandemic of influenza occurred.

1825:  Another medical practice act passed by General Assembly.

1827:  Severe epidemic of dysentery prevailed in Galena and other parts of Jo Daviess County.

1829:  First record of morbidity statistics for the Chicago area published in reports of the United States Army.

1830:  Milk sickness extensively prevalent.  Dr. Joseph Gates active over an extensive area in treating patients.

First State report on the health of Chicago made by the Canal Commissioners who, in their report to the legislature this year say: "This town is situated on the Chicago River near it's mouth, and possesses many advantages. ***It is the only eligible site for a town on the lake, ***and from the long experiences of it's inhabitants is decidedly healthy."

1831:  First general law for the incorporation of towns passed.

1832:  Cholera outbreak following the Black Hawk War, credited with responsibility for the beginning of the most of the country graveyards in the State.  This plague continued in sporadic epidemics at various points.

1833:  Milk sickness again prevalent in American Bottoms.

1834:  Fear of cholera leads to the establishment of temporary board of health in Chicago, the appointment of vigilance committee and vigorous community clean-up efforts.

1835:  (Feb. 11)  Legislature authorized Chicago to make regulations to secure the general health of the inhabitants. Chicago thereupon created a board of health of seven members.

Dr. Daniel Drake made on of his famous sanitary observation tours and found autumnal, intermittent and remittent fever everywhere in Illinois, the settlers attributing it to the plowing of the prairies.

Widespread epidemic of ophthalmia in Illinois.  It lasted about two years.

Thirty families of Norwegians abandoned a settlement on Beaver Creek, Iroquois County, after losing 50 members to an attack of "fever of the lowlands."

1836:  J. M. Peck of Illinois, in his "Guide for Immigrants" published this year, devotes an article to the subject of "Advice to recent settlers for the preservation of health."  He points out "that it is impossible to prevent the influence of an atmosphere pregnant with the causes of disease."  Uniform exposure of the system to the weather, he says, is favorable to health, and states that "it is common for a frontier man who's health is on the decline and especially when indications of pulmonary affection appear, to engage in a hunting expedition to renovate his health."

Work on Illinois and Michigan Canal started (July 4) at Bridgeport, Dr. W. B. Egan delivering the address.

Fort Dearborn permanently evacuated. According to published returns for ten years the annual rate of intermittent fevers in the garrison was 23 per cent; of remittents, 4 per cent.

Yellow fever said to have prevailed in Peoria and vicinity.

1837:  "The summer of this year was rendered memorable in Indian history by the ravages of smallpox," wrote Dr. F. S. Williamson.

Charter granted to Rush Medical College.

First organized board of health under charter of March 4, 1837, created in Chicago.

On May 12 the city council of Chicago passed the first code of ordinances.

1839:  This was known as the sick year along the Mississippi River near Rock Island and Fulton Counties.  The fever and ague prevailed. A great deal of sickness also occurred in DeKalb County.

1840:  The Hydraulic Company began to distribute water in Chicago through bored logs laid underground.

Preliminary steps taken at Springfield to organize a State Medical Society.

1841:  Franklin Medical College established at St. Charles.

First attempt made to gather complete vital statistics in Chicago.

1843:  Outbreak of erysipelas reported at Bloomington.  Such outbreaks were common at this time.

Another pandemic of influenza occurred.

1844:  Cholera reported in Green, Will and Tazewell Counties and at Pekin.  Erysipelas made it's appearance in Edwards and neighboring counties.

1845:  Epidemic of meningitis occurred in southern Illinois.

Typhoid first reported as having invaded the State.

1846:  Fifteen hundred cases of fever and ague treated by two physicians in Stark County.

Typhoid fever first observed in McLean County.

Aesculapian Society of the Wabash Valley and Rock River Medical Society organized.

1847:  By act of legislature the city of Chicago was given power to make, maintain, and repair all sewers in the city, said sewers to be the property of the city.

Illinois State Medical Society met in Springfield and elected Dr. John Todd president, and David Prince, secretary.  This society was ultimately supplanted by a new State society in 1850.

1848:  Dr. J. Murphy says when he first settled in Peoria this year, "The entire area of central Illinois was an emporium of malaria."

According to Dr. N. S. Davis, typhoid first became epidemic this year and was highly fatal.

Peoria City Medical Society organized.

1849:  Chicago undergoes rigid community cleaning to ward off cholera, but the attempt proved futile, a fatal epidemic developing fast upon the heels of this precaution.

Wave of cholera sweeps State during this and the next three years.

1851:  Committee on Mortality and Hygiene of the Chicago Medical Society made a report on mortality rates in Chicago from 1846 to 1850.

1852: Epidemics of cholera, smallpox, erysipelatous ophthalimia, dysentery, typhoid, scarlet fever and malaria prevailed.

Read about the cholera epidemic in Coles County by clicking HERE

One man's bout with Cholera

Shanty hospital for cholera patients built on lake shore in Chicago, introducing the "pest house" period.

Board of health appointed and organized in LaSalle.

United States Marine Hospital opened in Chicago with Dr. W. B. Herrick in charge.

1853: A board of health was established in Peru.

Puerperal fever was rife and unusually fatal.

1854:  Board of health organized in Rockford.
Quarantine system for cholera and smallpox victims established by ordinance in Chicago. Chicago city council authorized establishment of a cholera hospital at 18th and Arnold streets.

Sporadic outbreaks of cholera and smallpox.

1855:  Board of health established at Belleville.

Legislature enacted a law providing for a board of sewerage commissioners in Chicago and board organized with E. S. Chesbrough as chief engineer.

First use of quarantine placard in Chicago.

1856:  Evidence of malaria decline observed by Dr. Fred Gerhard and others.

Nursing sore mouth prevelant, also reported two years later.

1857:  Great wave of diphtheria started in Chicago.  It lasted ten years.

Boards of health established in Cairo and Rock Island.

1858:  Tuberculosis killed nearly 4 out of each 1,000 people in Chicago, giving the city it's highest mortality rate from that disease.

1859:  Malaria death rate 67 per 100,000 population, highest in history of State.

All health officials and equipment abolished in Chicago account of financial depression.  Work turned over to superintendent of streets.

1861:  Aesculapian Society supported unsuccessful legislative lobby for a medical practice act.

Code of sanitary regulations passed by city of Rockford.

Official sanitary and health functions transferred to police department in Chicago.

1862:  Dr. N. S. Davis chided Chicago in these words: "I know of no city, except Chicago, with a population of 110,000 that has neither a health officer, a board of health, nor any other official sanitary organization."

1863:  The condition of the pest house was made a subject of inquiry by the Chicago Medical Society.  Frightful mortality among prisoners at Camp Douglas.

1864:  Severe epidemics of fatal erysipelas at various points.

1865:  An amendment to the charter gave the board of public works of Chicago power to execute a plan for cleansing the Chicago River.

Victor C. Vaughn reports that every man, woman and child in southern Illinois within his range, shook with ague every other day.

Board of health of Quincy organized, with Dr. E. G. Castle president.

1866:  New cholera wave strikes Illinois with deadly force, stimulating feverish interest in sanitary and public health organizations everywhere, especially in Chicago, where Herculean but futile efforts to ward off cholera were expended.

Losing 32.5 per 100 inhabitants, Chicago experiences the highest mortality rate in her history.

1867:  A board of health was established in East St. Louis.

Board of health re-established and started functioning in Chicago under new State law that made it appointive by superior court.

1868:  Exhaustive sanitary surveys of Chicago completed.

Report of first study of prostitution and venereal diseases in Chicago made public.

1869:  Sanitary supervision over milk supply first attempted in Chicago.

Board of health of Quincy reorganized.  Dr. Francis Drude appointed health officer, in which capacity he served for about 20 years.

Position of health officer abolished in Cairo and sanitary work assigned to day police.

1870:  Diarrheal disorders killed nearly 2 per 1,000 people in Illinois, giving the State it's highest rate from these diseases.

The measles death rate of 29 per 100,000 population also established the highest State record for that disease.

United States weather bureau observation station established in Chicago.

The winter peak in the annual death rates of Chicago began to appear in the following ten years. This was in part due to the disappearance of the summer peak.

Waterworks first established at Rock Island.

1871:  Ordinance adopted in Cairo requiring the reporting of births and deaths.

Summer characterized by a period of prolonged and severe drought. October 8-9, the great Chicago fire, followed by a month of very high mortality.

Records of health department lost in fire, including all records of births and deaths.

A sanitary history of Chicago, from 1833-1870, by Dr. John H. Rauch, published with the annual reports of the board of health.

1872:  Blanket legislative authority to organize and maintain boards of health given to municipalities under provision of Cities and Villages Act.

American Public Health Association organized in New York with Dr. John H. Rauch of Chicago as treasurer.

Board of health organized in Edwardsville.

According to Dr. C. B. Johnson of Champaign, the last great endemic wave of malaria in central Illinois occurred this year.

A public water supply system established in Quincy.

Cairo built a pest house.

1873:  Chicago Society of Physicians appointed a committee to investigate the history and nature of the disease then prevailing in the Bridgeport district, and Dr. I. N. Danforth made microscopic examination of lesions, which was the first use of the microscope in the study of disease in the United States.

Board of health organized in Mattoon.

Pandemic of influenza universal in America.

1874:  The village of Evanston provided for the appointment of a board of health.

A public water supply system was established in Rockford.

Law enacted by legislature prohibiting licensing of houses of ill-fame.

1875:  Waterworks system of Bloomington established.

First public waterworks completed in Evanston at a cost of $100,000.

1876:  A great wave of diphtheria destined to stretch out over two decades started in Illinois.

The Illinois State Medical Society appointed a committee to secure a law providing for the regulation of the practice of medicine and a State Board of Health.

A department replaces the board of health in Chicago.

A mortality of 19.9 per 100,000 population marks the progress of Chicago's worst scarlet fever epidemic, which carried over into 1877.

Dr. N. S. Davis made report on progress of medical education in the United States.  This was published by the National Bureau of Education and was an epoch-making factor in raising the standard of medical education in this country.

1877:  First State Board of Health in Illinois authorized and organized. First meeting July 12.

First permanent medical practice act passed by legislature.

Seventeen municipal water supply systems were in operation at this time.

Chicago passed an ordinance regulating sale of milk and providing for a milk inspector.

Reporting of contagious diseases by physicians first enforced by city of Chicago.

1878:  Meeting of National Board of Health held in Chicago, June 20-30, to consider grave smallpox situation.

An outbreak of yellow fever at Cairo alarmed the State and led to quarantine measures that practically paralyzed traffic from the south.

First attempt made by State Board of Health to collect vital statistics.

Sanitary authority in Peoria vested in board of health.

1879:  Dr. John H. Rauch made secretary of the State Board of Health, a position which he filled with great distinction for 12 years.

Illinois health officials participate in the organization of the Sanitary Council of the Mississippi Valley

State Board of Health launches plans for a gigantic sanitary survey of State.

State legislature enacted laws relating to public graveyards, municipal sewage disposal and the sale of adulterated or unsanitary milk.

Congress appropriated sum of $500,000 to National Board of Health for yellow fever control.

Ordinance passed by city council of Chicago providing for the inspection of all places of employment, and six inspectors appointed to enforce it.

1880:  The summer peak in the annual death rates began to subside noticeably.

Highest diphtheria death rate in the history of Chicago 29.07 per 10,000.

Investigations of stream pollution made at Chicago, Springfield, Peoria, Quincy, Rock Island and Rockford.

First year for which vital statistics were collected and published for the State.

Diphtheria death rate 122.9 per 100,000 population, highest on record for the State.

1881:  Board of health adopted rules and regulations pertaining to the transportation of the dead.

Causing 66 and 90 deaths per 100,000 respectively, typhoid fever and meningitis yielded their highest State mortality rates.

Severe epidemic of smallpox started among immigrants in Chicago.

Sanitation of tenements, workships and lodging houses brought under the control the department of health of Chicago by the enactment of a State law which required all plans of such buildings to be submitted to be submitted to the health commissioner for approval.

Another great epidemic of cerebrospinal fever occurred. This lasted until 1883.

Death rate from diarrheal diseases 181.5 per 100,000.  After this the incidence of these diseases began to decline.

1882:  Smallpox in 77 of the 102 counties during epidemic caused 3,978 deaths.  Smallpox death rate 81.8 per 100,000, highest in history of State. State Board of Health prosecuted most vigorous vaccination campaign in history of Illinois.

Boards of health organized in Springfield and Greenville.

Scarlet fever provokes first use of quarantine placards in Rockford.

1883:  State Board of Health begins publication of educational literature.

First course of lectures on Germ Theory of Disease in the city of Chicago given by Dr. H. Gradle at the Chicago Medical College.

1884:  Gigantic house-to-house sanitary survey of State completed during this year and 1885.

Public waterworks first installed at Joliet.

Apparent infant mortality for State was 246.4 per 1000 births reported, the highest on record. Incomplete birth returns doubtless was an unfavorable factor.

Smoke inspector appointed in Chicago under the jurisdiction of the department of health.

Highest annual mortality from measles in Chicago on record, 5.06 per 10,000.

1885:  First State pure food law enacted.

Three deaths reported among humans from glanders in Kane, Peoria and Boone Counties.

Chicago's present milk inspection service started when Professor J. H. Long found one-half of the samples he collected below grade.

First attention called to flies as carriers of disease by Dr. F. W. Reilly in an editorial in the Chicago Morning News.

Heaviest rainfall on record - 6.19 inches in 24 hours on August 2 and 3.

First intubation in diphtheria patients done by Dr. F. E. Waxham.

Boards of health organized in Carrollton and Lemont.

Public waterworks established in Cairo and East St. Louis.

1886:  A water plant was completed in Aurora at a cost of $137,000.

Dr. John H. Rauch, secretary of the State Board of Health, recommended the diversion of water from Lake Michigan as a solution of Chicago's growing sewage-disposal problem.

1887:  Board of health ceased the compilation and publishing of vital statistics for the State.

Drainage and Water Supply Commission appointed by mayor of Chicago in accordance with a resolution of the city council, with Rudolph Hering as chief engineer, made report recommending the construction of a new drainage channel.

1888:  First Illinois conference of State and local health officials held at Springfield.

Waterworks established in LaSalle.

1889:  A pandemic of influenza reached Illinois this year.

1890:  Since this year the winter peak has been a striking feature of the annual death rates.

A water filtration plant was installed at Rock Island.

Read about those who died in 1892 of La Grip

Read about the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918


AGUE - A fever, usually malarial, marked by regularly recurring chills.

BILIOUS FEVER - A fever caused by a disorder of the Liver.

CHOLERA - Any of several intestinal diseases, but mainly an acute, sever, infectious disease characterized by profuse diarrhea, intestinal pain and dehydration.

DIPHTHERIA - An acute infectious disease caused by a bacterium and characterized by weakness, high fever, and the formation in the air passages of a tough, membrane-like obstruction to breathing.

DYSENTERY - Any of various intestinal inflammations characterized by abdominal pain and intense diarrhea with bloody, mucous feces.

ERYSIPELAS - An acute infectious disease of the skin or mucous membranes caused by a streptococcus and characterized by local inflammation and fever.

GLANDERS - A contagious disease of horses, mules, etc. characterized by fever, swelling of glands beneath the lower jaw, inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes, etc.:  it can be transmitted to certain other animals and man.

INFLUENZA - An acute, contagious, infectious disease, caused by any of a specific group of viruses and characterized by inflammation of the respiratory tract,fever, and muscular pain.

INTERMITTENT FEVER - A fever characterized by periodic intervals when the body temperature returns to normal.

MALARIA - This was once thought to be from exposure to bad air in swamps. It is an infectious disease, generally intermittent and recurrent, caused by any of various protozoans that are parasitic in the red blood corpuscles and are transmitted to man by the bite of an infected mosquito, especially the anopheles. it is characterized by severe chills and fever.

MEASLES - An acute, infectious, communicable virus disease, characterized by small red spots on the skin, high fever, nasal discharge, etc., and occurring most frequently in childhood.

MENINGITIS - An inflammation of the meninges (lining of the brain and spinal column) and is the result of infection from bacteria or viruses. (aka cerebrospinal fever)

MILK SICKNESS - A rare disease, formerly common in the Western US, caused by consuming dairy products or flesh from cattle that have eaten any of various poisonous weeds.

OPHTHALMIA - A severe inflammation of the eyeball or conjunctiva.

PUERPERAL FEVER - Sepsis sometimes occurring during childbirth: A former term that is no longer used.

SCARLET FEVER - An acute contagious disease, especially of children, caused by hemolytic streptococci and characterized by sore throat, fever, and a scarlet rash.

SMALL POX - An acute, highly contagious virus disease characterized by prolonged fever, vomiting, and pustular eruptions that often leave pitted scars, or pockmarks, when healed.

TERTIAN FEVER - Occurring every other day, usually every third day, usually applied to fever or a disease causing it, especially any of certain forms of malaria.

TUBERCULOSIS - An infectious disease caused by the tubercle bacillus and characterized by the formation of tubercles in various tissues of the body; specifically, tuberculosis of the lungs; consumption.

TYPHOID - An acute infectious disease caused by a bacillus and acquired by ingesting food or water contaminated by excreta: it was formerly considered a form of typhus and is characterized by fever, intestinal disorders, etc.

YELLOW FEVER - An acute, infectious tropical disease caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of the yellow-fever mosquito, and characterized by fever, jaundice, vomiting, etc.

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