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  • Sue Devick

Fullersburg's Early Settlers Dealt with Illness, Too

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

The early settlers of Fullersburg endured hardships such as food shortages, bitter cold, and illness. Cholera outbreaks were prevalent during this era; General Winfield Scott's troops were deeply impacted by this disease in 1832 in their preparation for the Black Hawk War in northern Illinois. According to the Pioneer Collections of Avid Dodge Blodgett, "The most deadly malarial fevers prevailed, caused by the plowing of the new prairie land, so that it was a fight for life until 1850."

The health struggles of the Torode family of "Frenchman's Woods" north of old Fullersburg are documented in letters written by Jean James Torode, who was a neighbor of Benjamin Fuller. His letters include both French and English words, as his family was from the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, where both languages were common. The excerpts below are unedited and appear due to the courtesy of the DuPage County Historical Museum.

On 1/18/1836, Jean wrote to his family, "...I will mention our helth which is not verry good at present but still a getting better," and " Dear Susane has been verry sick and do not yet much better... ." He continued on 1/21,1836 " present my helth is so poor that I am not able to atend to buisnefs... ." He mentioned another family living in the area that also was "down with the fever... ."

The effects of the flu are mentioned in Jean's letter dated 1/30/1836 in his admission, "I my self is weak the fluse has been hard with me by taking an abundance of medicine I have stoped it some times." He also stated that although he was discouraged, "I believe the Lord is on our side... ." On 6/15/1836, he wrote about his brother Charles, "When we were Comeing he was one day that he could Scarcely speak atall and it has remained one day a little ever since... ."

During times of illness, Jean often wrote about the beauty of his surroundings and his faith. On 5/18/1836, he wrote about his brother Nicholas, "Yesterday N. was not well in the morning but got some better so that he can with us to make the clame (he rode) he is some better today I believe that nothing alis him but a foul stomach. but the Lord only knows. to who me be Glory and honor would without end Amen." Likewise, the officers and directors of Fullersburg Historic Foundation are also admiring our ever-changing natural environment and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers during these difficult times.

Sue Devick, M.A.

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