NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Monday October 26th 2020

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What’s Old is New Again Quarantine and Vaccination

By SUE HUNTER WEIR 

In January 1900, health authorities were at odds over whether a young girl was suffering from chickenpox or smallpox. Four doctors determined that she had smallpox which would have required her to be quarantined, but Dr. Norton, Health Commissioner, insisted that she had chickenpox and accused Dr. Henry Bracken, Secretary of the State Board of Health, one of those who disagreed with him, of “creating an injurious panic without warrant just to belittle me.” Bracken argued in favor of aggressive steps to contain the spread of the disease, arguing that containing the outbreak was critical for the economy: “An epidemic of this kind stagnates business.” Editors of the Minneapolis Tribune chastised both men in an editorial on January 25, 1900: “It would seem as if two men occupying the important positions which they do would cooperate in matters looking to the spread of disease and the preservation of the health of the community.” 

All of this— the disagreements between health professionals, and arguments for and against quarantining patients to stop the spread of the disease— was the same then as it is now. The one thing that is different—and it’s a huge difference—is that there was a vaccine that was 95% effective for more than 100 years although many, perhaps most, people had not been vaccinated. 

In 1904, the city’s health inspectors had enormous power to enforce quarantine laws and to vaccinate people. In January, the city reported only one case of smallpox compared with twenty or thirty per day the previous year. That quickly changed. In February, four students at Augsburg Seminary (now Augsburg College) were infected with smallpox, and health inspectors vaccinated every instructor and student on campus including two “anti-vaccinationists” who showed up with guns. It’s not clear how authorities persuaded the two to be vaccinated, but they did. Ole Jacobson, who was “suffering from smallpox complicated with other maladies, which tend to unsettle his mental faculties,” made three unsuccessful attempts to escape from the Quarantine Hospital before staff tied him to his bed.Homes of those who suffered from smallpox had a yellow card on the door that identified theirs as a quarantine house and anyone who lived there could be arrested if they were seen out and about. 

The early good news from 1904 came to a tragic end in April 1904, when Joseph H. Lockwood died from what doctors originally thought was apoplexy. His funeral was held on Easter Sunday and was attended by members of his immediate and extended family. Within a month, six of them had died. By the time that the disease had run its course, the only members of Joseph Lockwood’s family to survive were his wife, Melinda, and one daughter, Helen. Melinda Lockwood had nursed her adult children through what must have been a devastating and heartbreaking ordeal. The Lockwood family was not the only family to lose loved ones to smallpox but they were the most hard hit so much so that the pandemic was named the ‘Lockwood Contagion.” 

The six family members of the Lockwood family who died from smallpox are buried in Section 4 of the Cemetery which is the loop at the end of the Cemetery’s only road. Eleven other family members who died earlier,and from other causes, are buried in various locations throughout the Cemetery. Joseph H. Lockwood was the third great-uncle of Lu Jacobson, one of Friends of the Cemetery’s most active volunteers and supporters. In 2011, Lu had a marker placed on the six graves in Section 4 and has been adding two or three individual markers for other family members every year: 2017-Ira and Leland Lockwood; 2018; Maud Mabel Lockwood; 2019 Charlotte (Lottie) and Phebe Irene Lockwood and in 2020 Harry C. and Lawrence Lockwood. There are four others that she plans to have marked in the next two years. 

The six family members of the Lockwood family who died from smallpox are buried in Section 4 of the Cemetery which is the loop at the end of the cemetery’s only road. Eleven other family members who died earlier, and from other causes, are buried in various locations throughout the Cemetery. Joseph H. Lockwood was the third great-uncle of Lu Jacobson, one of Friends of the Cemetery’s most active volunteers and supporters. In 2011, Lu had a marker placed on the six graves in Section 4 and has been adding two or three individual markers for other family members every year: 2017-Ira and Leland Lockwood; 2018; Maud Mabel Lockwood; 2019 Charlotte (Lottie) and Phebe Irene Lockwood and in 2020 Harry C. and Lawrence Lockwood. There are four others that she plans to have marked in the next two years. 

Photo by Tim McCall
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