This week — much to some Westporters’ dismay — the New York Times shined a spotlight on our town’s role in, and reaction to, the coronavirus crisis.
On September 8, 1832, the Springfield Journal took note of a cholera epidemic here.
Of course, there was no “Westport” yet — it would be 3 years before we broke away from Fairfield, Norwalk and Wilton.
I have no idea why a newspaper in Illinois would take note of what was happening here. But here’s how they reported it.
Worth noting, nearly 190 years later:
- Then, as now, people who were able to left New York for the suburbs
- Quarantines worked
- Newspaper writing was a lot different then, but …
- Just like today, mistakes crept in. “Newark” in the last sentence should be “Norwalk.” The river referred to is the Saugatuck.
I have no idea how very alert “06880” reader Mary Gai found this. But it’s important proof that we are not the first generation to face a crisis like this.
In 1832, New York’s population was 250,000. The cholera epidemic killed 3,515. In today’s city of 8 million, the equivalent death toll would pass 100,000. For more on that long-forgotten epidemic, click here.
PS: The Norwalk Gazette is long gone. But the Springfield Journal — now the State Journal-Register — is still around. It calls itself “the oldest newspaper in Illinois.”
PPS: Did Abraham Lincoln read this story? Probably not. He moved to Springfield in 1837.