The last major epidemic in Colleton County came in the late 1900s.
In October 1918, the schools were closed and public gatherings banned during the Spanish influenza epidemic. The flu returned again in 1919 and 1920. Then in 1939, quarantines were issued after an outbreak of polio in Charleston.
October 9, 1918
The Press and Standard
Sheriff ordered to protect public
Acting on orders received from the State Board of Health Monday, Lucas C. Padgett, sheriff of Colleton County, has given instructions that all churches, schools, theatres and other places where people gather be closed during the Spanish influenza epidemic.
The telegram to Sheriff Padgett follows: Columbia, S.C., 2:30 p.m., October 7: Under authority of paragraph 1614, South Carolina Code, you are directed to close all schools and other institutions of learning, churches, picture shows and all other places of public gathering in your county. See that there is no crowding in stores and public conveyances. James A. Hayes, Secretary and State Health Officer.
The sheriff has said that instructions were issued by him that the spirit as well as the letter of the State Board of Health’s order be obeyed completely and that action be taken in the event that disobedience is found. However, the sheriff is confident that the people, appreciating the urgent necessity for the drastic order, will cheerfully comply.
Of course, it is not known just how long the board of health’s mandate will be in force. A great number of cases of Spanish influenza are being reported and, while many victims have only mild cases, others have been very ill. In Walterboro, physicians are required to inform the board of health of such cases and they will be quarantined.
The school at Walterboro was closed before this order came on account of the prevalence of diphtheria over the town.
Two other stories in the same edition:
Hendersonville fair called off
Owing to the sweeping character of the recent order of the State Board of Health, the district fair to have been held on Friday of this week has been postponed. This was quite a disappointment to the promoters of this fair, and everything pointed to a large crowd and a most successful fair on Friday. The committees and the people of the entire community were much interested and were going to have a fair second to none.
Dr. Smith Turner, the chairman of the fair committee, was in Walterboro Tuesday and stated that the fair had only been called off temporarily and that as soon as it was possible to do so, the fair would be held. He also said that those who contemplated going to the state fair might remain at home and see a better fair at Hendersonville.
Local board of health is reorganized
Dr. J.C. vonLehe has assumed the chairmanship of the Walterboro board of health and hereafter, all cases of infectious disease will be reported to him. It is the purpose of the local board of health to see to it that strict quarantine of infectious disease be had and they desire all cases or suspected cases be reported immediately to them.
Just at present, there are quite a number of cases of diphtheria and Spanish influenza in town, but prompt action on the part of the board of health and isolation of the cases, it is thought, will prevent a spread of the disease.
The members of the board of health are Dr. J.C. vonLehe, chairman; E.D. Lemacks, secretary; W.L. Easterlin and N.J. Morrall.
January 15, 1919
Much influenza still in the county
The return of another epidemic of Spanish influenza seems to be much worse that the first. The prevalence of the disease is much more widespread than in the first attack. In a number of communities in the county, the disease is raging just now. This is true according to reports received at Stokes, Drawdy’s, Tabor, Mt. Carmel and several other places in the county.
The worst of the epidemic seems to have passed at Hendersonville, Walterboro, Cottageville, Lodge, Smoaks and in much of the county; and it is thought the epidemic has reached the stage where rapid improvement is expected.
Only one or two new cases have been reported in Walterboro for several days, and most of those who were confined to their homes are getting out again. A.B. Chandler, who has had pneumonia, is now convalescing. Campbell Koger has gotten well enough to open the store of Koger Hardware Company again. Sherwood Price is again at his furniture store. P.J. Lucas and J.C. Tunno of Wichman-Brown Company are expected to be out again today. W.A. Padgett got uptown Monday for the first time since his attack of pneumonia. P.M. Buckner of Jacksonboro is so far improved as to be about the house. E.T.H. Shaffer is still at the EsDorn Infirmary, and E.D. Lemacks is confined to his home. Three of the teachers in the school, Miss Sally McCown, Miss Bolling Rice and Miss Annie vonLehe, are still confined to their homes. The school at Tabor is closed on account of the epidemic.
January 22, 1919
Quarantine has been ordered
Orders have been received from the State and City Boards of Health ordering a strict quarantine, effective immediately.
The following telegram was received yesterday by Sheriff Padgett:
Columbia, S.C., Jan. 21 — Sheriff L.C. Padgett: You are authorized to impose general quarantine on Colleton County which will prevent all public gatherings. This does not apply to towns with organizes health boards. Jas. A. Hayne, State Health Officer.
The Board of Health has issued the following order for Walterboro:
1. To close up all schools, public gatherings, churches and places of congregating.
2. There must be no congregating together in stores.
3. Storekeepers must insist that customers leave stores as soon as business is transacted, and ask customers to avoid crowding in at one time.
4. Stores should be sprayed with antiseptic solution at least every other morning.
5. Managers of stores will be held responsible for any loafing or crowding together within his store.
6. There must be no grouping together on streets or forming a crowd in public places.
February 25, 1920
“Flu” situation not improving
Reports from over the county seem to indicate that there are quite a number of serious cases of illness on account of the epidemic of influenza. Schools in various parts of the county have been closed, and several deaths are reported.
It seems that the Hudson’s Mill section is about the hardest hit of any place. It is reported that only one or two families have escaped. The school is closed. Mrs. A.Q. Padgett is very ill of pneumonia. J.E. Morris is also ill of pneumonia, but reports this morning indicate he is improving.
At Islandton, two deaths are reported. Lee Sineath died there last Thursday, and George Godley died last night. Both these are prominent citizens of that section of the county.
At Jacksonboro, there have been many cases. G.T. Doyle, a prominent farmer, died Sunday night, and there have been a number of deaths among the negro population there. Mr. Doyle was buried at Round Tuesday, the funeral being conducted by Rev. J.P. Graham. He is survived by one son, three brothers and two sisters.
In Walterboro there are not many cases. Among those reported to be ill area A.F. Henderson, chasier of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, Mr. and Mrs. A.A. Patterson Jr. and a few other mild cases.
School is still going on.
May 11, 1939
Polio scare in Charleston
Due to the presence of infantile paralysis (Poliomyelitis) in Charleston and the publicity being given it, people in Walterboro have become alarmed and have been asking what, if any, precautions could be taken to keep the disease out of Colleton County and to prevent an epidemic if cases should develop.
The State Board of Health has issued instructions that every child under 16 years of age coming from Charleston County be confined to the premises where he is living, along with all other children of that household under 16 years of age, for two weeks following his arrival. Unless this is done, the entire household will have to be placarded and placed in strict quarantine.
All families are requested to register their visitors with the County Health Department immediately after their arrival. All children of the household where there are visitors from Charleston must not attend public school, regardless of their age.