Air and water bad for your health?

In the 19th century, before modern medicine, you could easily die from what you inhaled or drank. This was particularly true if you were a baby. That is because they did not yet understand the nature of infectious disease or have the means to prevent it.

I was always puzzled when I read that the average lifespan for Americans in the 1800s was about 45. After all, all of Susan B. Anthony’s siblings and most of her friends lived well beyond what we consider middle age. Finally, I asked my friend Terry Lehr for help. She is a former nurse and author of an upcoming book on the flu epidemic of 1918. Terry explained that it was extremely common for children to die before they were five years old, and this brought down the average age considerably. (Click here for an overview of 19th century medicine that focuses on the highly-contagious puerperal fever.)

Infectious Diseases Varied By Season

Cold weather brought respiratory diseases spread through the air, especially pneumonia, influenza, and diphtheria, which was called “the strangling disease” because sufferers frequently developed a membrane in their throats that cut off their airways.

Warm weather, while easier on the lungs, was harder on the digestive tract. Illnesses–especially cholera, but also typhoid fever and dysentery–could reach epidemic proportions, killing thousands of Americans during  bad seasons and causing others to evacuate affected towns. Rivers, streams, and ground water, polluted with feces, carried the illness across the continent. Closer to home, babies were particularly susceptible to germs in spoiled milk because it was a disproportionate percentage of their entire diet.

What does this have to do with this website on the Anthony kin? Because as I’ve been visiting Anthony grave sites and reading letters and diaries, I keep coming across sad remembrances of family members who succumbed to such diseases. At least one of those deaths will darken the pages of the sequel of The Truth About Daniel.

Photo of the Anthony burial plot in Rochester by Jeanne Gehret.

Susan B. Anthony’s brother mentioned often

Why did I write a book about Susan B. Anthony’s brother, readers often want to know.

Well, I’m glad you asked. My interest in Daniel Read (D.R.) Anthony began about 20 years ago with scattered hints in Susan’s biography, letters, and diaries. Continue reading

Life in the Finger Lakes review

We are pleased and honored that The Truth About Daniel was recently featured in Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine. The review praised the novel’s good pace, handling of critical historical events, and “careful attention…to mores and manners of the time.” See the complete review here, titled “Endurance, Determination, and Resolve.”

http://susanbanthonyfamily.com/books/

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Endurance, Determination and Resolve

S.B. Anthony family books on Kindle for 99 cents today

Books about Susan B. Anthony and her brother Daniel R. Anthony

Today there’s a Kindle ebook offer of these two books for 99 cents each. If you’ve followed this blog, now’s the time to get them so you can enjoy the stories in their entirety.

Tomorrow they go up to $1.99, and after that, they’re regularly priced at $2.99. Please tweet, like, and share at the top of this post. Thank you!

 

 

All for Suffrage, part 2

Susan B. Anthony’s five siblings, like her parents, were all for suffrage. They supported the right of every American Continue reading

All for Suffrage, Part 1

Susan B. Anthony’s family members were all for suffrage, each in his or her own way. Some supported voting rights by actually casting ballots, while others supported campaigns for African-Americans and women to vote. She had Continue reading

Agitators Prevailed

The story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass packed a full house tonight, the opening of “The Agitators.” Rochester’s famous reformers really showed their mettle at this fine play at GEVA Theater. Actors Madeleine Lambert and Cedric Mays delivered the pair’s famous arguments with conviction and humor against a massive timeline that resembled the double arches of the Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Bridge in Rochester.

“Agitation is the spark of all change”

This is one of my favorite quotes from the play, and served as the theme to portray the lifelong friendship between these reformers. Especially moving were the scenes where the pair toured Frederick’s burned-out home; where they fought over the enfranchisement of black men before women; and where he begged Susan not to hold a women’s rights convention in a southern state where black women were not welcome.

Personally, I enjoyed the proslavery mob scene and the final vignette about Ida Wells, which both figured prominently in my book Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All.

Want to read more about these two revolutionaries? Get your own copy of this easy read that portrays Susan’s entire life. Great for students, too!

Three Susan B. Anthony Events

Jeanne Gehret as Susan B. Anthony

Three Susan B. Anthony events feature Jeanne Gehret, author of two books about the Anthony family. These programs honor the centennial of woman suffrage in NY state. Signups are essential at the libraries:

  • Tuesday, 7 pm., Perinton Historical Society, “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” discusses how Susan’s entire family supported her reform work
  • Thursday, 7 pm, Brighton Memorial Library, “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” 585-783-5300
  • http://www.brightonlibrary.org/
  • Saturday, 1 pm, Irondequoit Public Library, “Failure is Impossible” (re-enactment of Susan B. Anthony) 585-336-6060

Click here for a fuller description of those programs. Hope to see you there! ‎

Books by Jeanne Gehret:

                       

This week in History: John Brown at Harpers Ferry

John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry shook the Anthony family’s roots when on this day in 1859 he broke into a federal arsenal in Virginia and was captured.

Lucy and Daniel Anthony had raised Continue reading