Fire, Pestilence, and Death: St. Louis, 1849
Though St. Louis has faced many trials and tribulations since its founding in 1764, no point in its history is remembered more for tragedy than 1849. The city was little more than a frontier town at the time, and the strain of a rapidly growing population and poor infrastructure set the stage for two deadly outbreaks: a massive cholera epidemic and the Great Fire of 1849.
In a discussion of his new book Fire, Pestilence, and Death: St. Louis, 1849, historian Christopher Alan Gordon examines the two calamities and the resiliency of the city and its residents in overcoming them. He recounts the stories of St. Louisans who lived through the tumultuous year, drawing from newspapers, letters, diaries, and city records.
Gordon is the director of library and collections for the Missouri Historical Society.