`Mountain Fever,' cholera common to settlers on trek

Illness was common on the trail from such maladies as "mountain fever," diarrhea, cholera and dysentery. According to Mel Bashore of the Church's Historical Department, "mountain fever" most likely was Colorado Tick Fever, characterized by fever, delirium, and pain in the joints and the back. Brigham Young had mountain fever as he entered the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847.

A parent's concern and prayers are apparent in the account of Hannah Dorcas Tapfield King. Her family began their trek May 20, 1853, from Iowa. Her Aug. 9 journal entry simply reads: "Tom Owen [13-year-old son] not very well to day." On the 14th she records: "Tom awoke us this morning about 2 oc-having got up in a delireum." In her Aug. 15 entry, she mentions mountain fever. Over the next few days, she washed him in vinegar and water and cared for him, but he grew worse. Her anguish is apparent as she writes: "I cannot think the Lord will take him from me - in this embryo stage of his temporal & spiritual Existence!"Once, the boy called out to his mother: "Oh! for the beautiful Valley - where my heart has long been . . . ." Little Tom Owen survived. (Journey to Zion, Voices from the Mormon Trail, Carol Cornwall Madsen, relating account of Hannah Dorcas Tapfield King, pp. 478-507.)

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