Texans attempt to cope with the coronavirus, many folks who are not
into the study of our history probably don't know that Texas has known
many deadly plagues over the years.
In the old days our ancestors didn't have the luxury of antibiotics
and immunization shots. And even if they had been available, it would
have been far too late to save anybody by the time drugs got to the
According to The Handbook of Texas, as far back as the early
1800s Texas was experiencing deadly plagues and epidemics. When Texas
was under Mexican rule, it was combined with the state of Coahuila
in 1824 - although a procedure for dealing with smallpox had been
found, the sparse population and distance between Texas and Coahuila
made it difficult to deliver the vaccine to the people.
After Texas won its independence from Mexico there was no organized
system of reporting on epidemics. As a result, little is known about
the health of folks living in the Republic of Texas. However, we do
know that epidemics were frequent - most notably yellow fever, smallpox,
Reports indicate that between 1836 and 1867 yellow fever epidemics
occurred nearly every year. Sadly, a cholera outbreak that hit Indianola
in 1846 was so terrible that the dead lay unburied in the streets.
first efforts to quarantine occurred in Galveston
in 1850 after several yellow fever epidemics hit the island. In 1856
the state legislature passed a law that gave county courts the authority
to quarantine when they deemed it necessary.
It wasn't until 1873 that statutes mandating registration of all Texans
were enacted. Those mandates finally gave the state a way to compile
statistics of people who became ill from the epidemics. Chances are
these things would not have happened that soon if Texas had not become
part of the United States.
A law was finally passed in 1879 that provided for the first statewide
system of quarantine. This law greatly improved the antiquated efforts
of the one in 1856. With an increase in personnel and financial resources,
quarantine stations sprang up throughout the state - quarantines were
used more frequently by the end of the century.
According to The Handbook of Texas: "The modern public-health
campaign represents the culmination of a 200-year struggle to lengthen
the productive lives of Texans."
The people of Texas can have confidence that they now live in a time
when modern medicine is rapidly developing new vaccines and techniques
to deal with epidemics.
There's no doubt that the coronavirus we are dealing with today will
also be defeated by scientists, doctors, and other professionals in
the medical community.