Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Diaries & Letters of Tri-Counties
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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1888-89
Dr. Emery G. Drake of Antrim writes about the Diphtheria Epidemic
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Dr. Emery Gaston Drake was born in Granville, Bradford County, Pa. in 1852, the son of Andrew J. Drake of LeRoy , and Annis Viletta Bailey of Granville. He was educated at the State Normal School at Mansfield, Pa.before beginning the study of medicine about 1869. He was employed as a clerk in the drug and book store of Dr. C V Elliott in Mansfield, while studying medicine there. He began the practice of medicine at Blossburg in 1874. He married Ida Clarissa Decker, of Mansfield in 1874. They had three children, John Howard, Maude Ophelia, and Ambrose Milan. Dr. Drake  then served as resident physician in Fall Brook and Morris Run. He was chairman of the Tioga County Medical Society in 1878. In 1878 he moved to Antrim, Pa. to serve as resident physician there. He succeeded Dr. C W Brown in his practice in Elmira, NY in 1890. While there he was the surgeon for the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. He died in Brooklyn, New York in 1916.
1888-9 letter to Dr. Benjamin Lee, Secretary of the State Board of Health  of Pa. on Diptheria at Antrim, Tioga County.

Dear Sir,
         Enclosed find a small card and circular relating to diptheria. My object in forwarding this, is to ascertain if I have exceeded my authority and to let you know just what I am trying to do in this matter

          To explain, our place is a semi-bituminous coal district, inhabited as you know by many nationalities. The houses stand quite near each other, while many families occupy blocks in which are several families. For the last three or four years, we have experienced some time during the year, an outbreak of diptheria. Our first was followed by upwards of a hundred cases , and many deaths. This time I was unable to curtail in a satisfactory manner either the disposal of the dead, or the running in and out of the neighbors. Our second outbreak was followed by a smaller number of cases, and proportion of deaths, corresponingly less. At this time, through the officials of the company, who by the way, aid me in every way they can, I was afforded the satisfaction of curtailing to some extent, the abominable visiting, which in my opinion, had the effect to , in some degree, stay the progress of the disease.

E. G. Drake at right
           As the third outbreak came on, I had succeeded in securing from your board, the appointment, the title of which I give myself at the bottom of the card. I then issued cards somewhat similar to the enclosed. The result was a very few cases. At our last outbreak which occurred but a few weeks since, I issued the enclosed cards.
           In placing anything of the kind before our people, it must be decided, the turpentine, its matter of use, you may disagree with me in, but it comes from a good source, and at any rate , thoroughly aroused the people, for they quickly consumed the company's stock, and set themselves at work doing everything in their power to guard against the disease. And now I have only to call their attention in some such way to awaken a general interest in such matters. I would state too, that my plan during the third and last appearance of the disease among us, has been as follows:
           Immediately upon discovering the presence of diptheria, I quarentined the houses and all the inmates of the same. They cannot go outside the yard. For their groceries at the company's store, I take their memorandum and pass it to one of the clerks, who sees that the family is provided for. There is positively no one admitted to the house, but myself or the assistant. In case of death the body is immediately wrapped in a sheet, wet with a solution of chloride of mercury, placed in a casket , and as I have done in one or two instances, the latter is also wrapped in a sheet wet with the same solution and placed in the outside box; and disposed of within a brief space of time after the death, sometimes not waiting more than four or five hours. The house and its contents are then thoroughly fumigated with sulphur. The friends and nursebefore going outside take a bath and make a change of clothing through out. By this means there is no doubt, but that I have succeeded in cutting short the threatened epidemic, and now have arrived at a very satisfactory point, where public sentiment stands ready to endorse my efforts in that direction, and in my opinion the little circular has done a greater part of it.

                                                                                     Yours very truly,
                                                                                      E G Drake, MD

See Antrim Cemetery Listing 2007

Tri-Counties Page 16137

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Published On Tri-Counties Site On 06/27/2008 
By Joyce M. Tice
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Thanks to Tim Drake for sending this in.