1909 : Smallpox Quarantine at Lake Michigan Resort

August 10, 2018 all-day

Since the turn of the 20th Century, Chicagoans have traveled by train, steamer or car to Berrien County, Michigan to enjoy the fresh, healthy country air, cool breezes off Lake Michigan and the camaraderie of family and friends. They have long claimed the western shore of Lake Michigan, as well as the inland lakes, rivers and countryside, as their summer home. For Jewish vacationers from about 1900 to 1950, the choice of where to stay was limited, as many areas blatantly discriminated against people of color and certain religions. Still, the need to escape the oppressive summer heat, dirt, dangers and diseases of the city lured Jewish residents to Berrien County.

Although Chicago residents sought to escape epidemics by coming to Michigan, not all succeeded. A Herald News-Palladium article of August 10, 1909 reported that more than 100 resort guests were quarantined under armed guard at the Lord’s Resort – an Orinoco Township resort which catered to Jewish guests – after township authorities discovered a child suffering from smallpox. The headlines screamed, “State Troops May Come if Necessary to Establish Rigid Small Pox Quarantine.” More than 100 vacationers were vaccinated.

Source : Elaine Thomopoulos, Ph.D., “Home for the Summer : Coming to Michigan for the Fresh, Healthy, Country Air”, Michigan Jewish History, Vol. 45, Fall 2005, page 6.

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