1855 Norfolk Yellow Fever Epidemic




Timeline

Y/M/D Description Place
1855/00/00 The steamer Ben Franklin, en route to New York, departs St Thomas in the Virgin Islands where a yellow fever epidemic erupting. St Thomas,
1855/06/07 The steamer Ben Franklin puts into Hampton Roads in distress. Larvae of the yellow fever transmitting mosquito, the Aedes aegypti, is found in the hull and the ship is quarantined in Hampton Roads until June 19. Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park, Hampton
1855/06/19 Authorities permit the BEN FRANKLIN to sail to Page and Allen's shipyard, near Gosport Navy Yard, on the condition that her hold is not to be broken up. After tying up at the shipyard, the captain has the hatches opened and the bilges pumped out. Quarters A, B and C, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth
1855/07/05 Machinists, Mr Carter, who is working in the ship's hold comes down with the fever, and three days later he died. His death was followed by an outbreak of the fever in a crowded nearby tenement known as "Irish Row," from which it spread into Portsmouth. Downtown Portsmouth Historic District (Virginia), Portsmouth
1855/07/30 After "Irish Row" is closed by the health authorities, families are given shelter them in an rundown tenement on South Church Street known as "Barry's Row." The fever breaks out in Norfolk on July 30, after which it spread quickly throughout the city. Norfolk, Virginia
1855/08/00 Moved by accounts of the plight of Norfolk that appeared in the nation's press, volunteers from all over the country come to Norfolk to nurse the stricken, while substantial sums of money were collected to assist the fever-racked community.
1855/08/00 As people escape from the area, many cities, notably New York, Richmond and Petersburg, which had at first welcomed the refugees, begin to refuse new escapees. A boatload of refugees are repulsed at bayonet-point while attempting to land at Old Point.
1855/08/14 August 14 is set aside by the authorities as a day of humiliation and prayer.
1855/08/30 Before the end of August all business in Norfolk is halted. The only ship operating in the Norfolk harbor is the J E Coffee. The steamer meets boats from Baltimore and Richmond in Hampton Roads to pick up the mail and bring in coffins. Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park, Hampton
1855/09/00 Rev Mathew O'Keefe of St Patrick's Catholic Church and Dr George D Armstrong of the Norfolk Presbyterian minister assist the sick. Armstrong wrote an account of the fever, "A History of the Ravages of the Yellow Fever in Norfolk, Virginia, AD 1855"
1855/09/15 Rev James Chisholm is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery. Cedar Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth
1855/12/00 The plague ends with the coming of winter. Of those who survived, every man, woman and child, almost without exception had been stricken by the fever and about 2,000 had been buried. Over 500 civilians were treated at the Naval Hospital. Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Portsmouth
1856/00/00 The slave who is a hero of the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1855 is freed and becomes Verger (caretaker) at Trinity Episcopal Church (a plaque to him is in the tower). Trinity Episcopal Church, Portsmouth

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