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  • Writer's pictureLinda A Cowdrick

Havana Tragedy, 1887

19th Century View of Havana

On June 30, 1887 it was reported in the newspapers that a husband and wife with their 8 children tragically died in their home from gas emitted from coal. The husband was told that burning tobacco over coal would prevent the family from contracting small pox, an epidemic from 1885 to 1887. The neighbors of this family informed the local police on the next day that there was no sign of life at the home and the police found that the entire family had suffocated from the gas emitted from the coals.

Reportedly, the neighborhood this family lived in had 338 cases of small pox the previous month, 55 of which were fatal. There were 170 additional cases the first week of June, 35 of which were fatal. Clearly the father and husband of this family was doing what he thought he could to save his family from this awful illness. An additional 112 deaths were reported in Havana during the following month of July.

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