Look Back: City struggles to face small pox

Historical newspaper excerpts from the Wood County Historical Society

Photo Provided Charles H. Shattuck (1837- 1911) was Mayor of Parkersburg in 1871-72 and 1875-76. Initially drawn to Parkersburg by the oil boom, Shattuck became a great contributor to the growth and development of Parkersburg.

To the citizens of Parkersburg

Because of the prevalence of the Small Pox in the surrounding cities, and the fact that we are in daily communication with such cities, the Board of Health have recommended to city council that some measures be taken to have the citizens thoroughly vaccinated as a protection from the disease.

Now therefore: In pursuance of a resolution passed by city council, I would recommend and direct that all persons who have not been vaccinated within the last seven years to immediately call upon their family physicians or some physician of the city, and be vaccinated in pursuance of said suggestion. The cost in all cases where not otherwise paid, will be paid by the city. As yet, but a single case has made its appearance among us, and all efforts are being made by the authorities to prevent the spread of it and it is hoped and expected that the citizens will assist in the same by using the caution above recommended.

The Parkersburg Daily Times

Dec. 28, 1871


At a special meeting of the Board of Health called at the Chamber of the City Council on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 1871, to take into consideration what means will best tend to limit the number of cases and protect the citizens at large against the contagion of small-pox. It was urgently recommended that immediate steps be taken to remove from the city to such suitable locality that may be found attainable and appropriate within a safe and convenient distance of the city, any and all persons who may become subjects of small-pox contagion, as offering the only safe and reliable means of securing the above object.

We would also recommend that the City Council provide suitable medical attendance and nursing and comforts for any and all persons so removed from the city for the cause above stated.

We would further recommend that the physicians of the city be requested to report to the city Council all cases of small-pox or other contagious or malignant disorders coming under their observation.

Signed, C.H. Shattuck, Mayor, et al

Dec. 29, 1871


School board notice

At a meeting of the Board of Education, held on the 3rd day of January, 1872, it was:

Resolved: That, in order to give the parents full time to attend to the vaccination of their children, as recommended by His Honor, the Mayor of this city, the public schools will be opened on the 8th day of January, and that only such pupils shall be admitted, who have been vaccinated heretofore, and that the Secretary of this Board be instructed to notify the respective teachers to that effect, and cause this order to be published in the papers of the city.

Jan. 2, 1872


They say — our city dads very abruptly adjourned last week from the Council chambers to other quarters as soon as a stranger, supposed to be affected with small pox, made his appearance. The words small pox were hardly uttered, when every one of them, Mayor and Councilmen, as if electrified, arose and went out — out into the open air, and then into a friendly store room. They say — but is it so?

Jan. 2, 1872


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical Society. Would you like to help preserve our past for future generations? The society offers informative monthly meetings and an interesting, 20-page quarterly newsletter. Dues are just $20/year. Send to: WCHPS, P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.