This map (which I found from an online exhibit from the National Library of Medicine), is of Nashville in 1873 that shows a Cholera outbreak. Why do I post this? Because today I had a history lesson on Cholera in Nashville.
Today, a group of coworkers and I went to Traveller’s Rest, a plantation/museum here in town that was the home of Judge John Overton, a prominent figure in Nashville history. His home was also a base of operations during the last campaigns around the Battle of Nashville. I won’t go into the history of the battle, but I learned quite a bit about that today as well.
The reason for our visit was to see the Disease & Medicine exhibit they are currently hosting. Our library helped provide some of the information for the exhibit, so we received a few free passes. The group of us that went won them as a result of a drawing.
It was quite interesting. Apparently, cholera outbreaks in Nashville were very common throughout the entire 19th century and at one point, Nashville was the most dangerous city to live in because of these outbreaks. More dangerous than Calcutta, more dangerous than NYC. The outbreaks were so bad b/c of the very rapid growth of Nashville during this time which resulted in thousands of people living in very close quarters, disposal of wastes into alleyways, and germs being absorbed into the ground and eventually tainting the city’s water supply – the Cumberland River. Because medicine did not really understand bacteria at the time, it would just continue. The cure for cholera is rehydration but of course they were rehydrating with tainted water. Not good.
Overall, I’m glad I went. While I was there, they had a book in the gift shop that I almost purchased, but decided to hold off. It was a book that had many images representative of the history of blacks in Nashville. My interests in Nashville history are growing and I even found a connection with someone whom I’m helping in her genealogy research of ancestors from Nashville.