Cholera is the disease of travelers. It first came to America, in 1832 and as her population grew, forever forging West, people only knew one way to travel. They thought it was important to travel close to the fresh water sources. There are positive and negatives regarding this practice. Nothing is more laborious than finding clean flowing water, which is our lifeblood of our posterity, and then try to capture it and bring it back to the camp. When a town is not civilized yet, there is no indoor plumbing, no hot showers, you have to bathe in the river. If you want privacy, you bathed and took care of personal hygiene or "business" up river. So what was occurring down river? Pioneers were trying to figure out how to get the most water in the shortest amount of trips from the source to the camp. Where did they go wrong?
Eventually, the Italian scientist, Filippo Pacini, would gain prominence for his discovery of Vibrio cholera, but not until 82 years after his death, when the international committee on nomenclature in 1965 adopted Vibrio cholerae Pacini 1854 as the correct name of the cholera-causing organism.
They camped right next to the river.
They carried the water a minimum distance. (ah, we are after all, lazy)
They used the water to cook with, sometimes seeing bacteria moving in the water.
Washing hands was not very practical in their minds. "It just took me 2 hours to get 4 four buckets back to camp, I'm not using it to wash my hands, it's for drinking!" As the summer droned on, the bacteria from feces entered the River and traveled slowly down to where the Pioneers were camping. It was said, "you could be fine at breakfast, be contaminated by 10 am and by 3 you are dead". If the cook didn't wash their hands or boil the water, unless they actually saw bacteria in the water. Travel next to slow moving, wide rivers like the Platte, and Ohio Rivers, the dangers were greater than usual during the summer as the rivers actually acted as a host to the bacteria.
There were misconceptions of how people got cholera.
This is the 20th century. We know a lot more now than we did as Pioneers. This is not a Mormon illness. This was something that all travelers were es-posed to. Cholera was also in the cities of Europe. With sewage in the streets from horses, and humans, that created a situation where people could become infected easily. As cities became a hub for major activity, more people became housed in England,
So here is a checklist to see if your family or extensions of family had issues of dealing with Cholera
1) My family came from a heavily populated port town in Europe (Brittain 1832 - http://history1800s.about.com/od/crimesanddisasters/a/Cholera-Epidemic-Of-1832.htm
2. Cholera broke out on these ships (see google)
3. My family landed in a heavily populated port town in America.
4.The family settled in Ohio in 1832-1846
5. The family lived in Germantown - Augulaize, OH in 1830-1850
Check the German Cholera Cemetery for a list of names
6. The family moved West with handcart companies
Check manifests of families on the journey.
Check journals in Ancestry.com
7. Google your family name and the word Cholera
8. Your family was in Illinois (Chicago) in 1885