1850 Cholera Epidemic Victims
One of the worst epidemics of Asiatic Cholera
anywhere occurred in Sacramento in 1850. At that time,
no one knew what caused cholera or how it was
transferred, but there was no mistaking what it was. A
victim would be well, then suddenly collapse with abrupt
onset of profuse watery diarrhea followed by death in a
few hours from dehydration and acidosis.
On October 8, a passenger on the "New World," a
ship docked in Sacramento, emerged and collapsed
on the wharf, sparking an epidemic that killed
800-1000 people in less than three weeks.
Thousands fled in panic, leaving the stricken
behind. Of the 40-80 physicians practicing here at
the time, 17 died, making this the highest
mortality on record for physicians caring for
victims of an epidemic.
few exceptions, victims were buried in mass graves.
There were several, the largest at the New Helvetia
cemetery. Because of mass flooding, these burials were
transferred to the City Cemetery where they are believed
to be under military graves.
A monument was erected in 1852. The monument's
placement, however, has little bearing on the
actual locations of cholera victims and, most
likely, is placed atop an area originally
sectioned off for the indigent. Of the 17
physicians who died of cholera while caring for
the victims of the 1850 epidemic, only one of the
17 is notably buried in this cemetery. Records
indicate that the other 16 physicians are buried
under the City Cemetery, but the location is