Major Weather or Other Disasters

Your ancestors could well have been directly or even indirectly affected by some of the noted weather or other disasters to strike any region of the United States. With those having ancestors in America during the 1800s, here are a few of such disasters.

The cholera epidemic of 1832 killed thousands of people in Europe and North America and created mass panic across two continents. Astoundingly, when the epidemic struck New York City, it prompted as many as 100,000 people, nearly half the city’s population, to flee to the countryside. The arrival of the disease prompted widespread anti-immigrant feeling, as it seemed to flourish in poor neighborhoods populated by new arrivals to America. The movement of the disease across continents and countries was tracked closely, yet how it was transmitted was barely understood. People were understandably terrified by horrific symptoms which seemed to afflict victims instantly.

Someone who woke up healthy could suddenly become violently ill, have their skin turn a ghastly bluish tint, become severely dehydrated, and die within hours. It would not be until the late 19th century that scientists knew for certain that cholera was caused by a bacillus carried in water and that proper sanitation could prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

By the end of the summer in 1833, the epidemic seemed to be over. But more than 3,000 New Yorkers had died. That is just that city, it did cause deaths in many other towns and cities in America and Europe.

A very cold summer in 1816 became the year without a summer for millions of people in parts of North America and Europe, leading to failed crops and near-famine conditions. It especially affect people living in the northeast and around the Great Lakes of the United States.

While they didn’t know the chill’s cause at the time, scientists and historians now know that the biggest volcanic eruption in human history, on the other side of the world —Mount Tambora in Indonesia was in April 1815 — spewed millions of tons of dust, ash and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, temporarily changing the world’s climate and dropping global temperatures by as much as 3 degrees.

In addition to food shortages due to crops destroyed and livestock dying, the natural climate change caused disease outbreaks, widespread migration of people looking for a better home and religious revivals as people tried to make sense of it all. So you might have found that your some of your ancestors moved to a new location, especially further west during this time period. This could have been their reason.

If there has been found at anytime, a migration, movement of a branch of the family tree or even just one individual, there is a reason. That could be weather or other type of disaster. Very important to learn why an ancestor or family choose to move.

Photos: Fear of cholera epidemic of 1832 and people moving to new locations with the cold weather of 1816.

Related Blogs:

Occupations of the 19th century

Ancestors Affected by Disasters

New York Records

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