This is going to be at least a three part column about malaria. It’s fascinating to think that less than 100 years ago this disease was still a major scourge in Chowan County. I’ve wanted to write about this topic for a long time since the coronavirus popped up but was a bit concerned about writing about a somewhat depressing topic.

According to NCPedia (yes – you students should be using this resource for North Carolina research!) malaria came to North Carolina in the 1500s from some of the first European explorers who were bitten by our friendly Anopheles mosquitoes and then transmitted to the native population. And as we well know, we live in a very damp environment surrounded by sitting water which certainly increases the harvest of mosquitos. Some of the most prominent Revolutionary Edentonians suffered from the “Ague” during their lives. Declaration signer Joseph Hewes suffered from “intermittent fever and ague” throughout his life which were certainly symptoms of malaria.

The German traveler Dr. Johan Schoepf wrote in his book Travels in the Confederation, 1783-1784, of “…the sickliness of the inhabitants, especially prevalent in the low, overflowed, and swampy parts of this country, and giving the people a pale, decayed, and prematurely old look. This is the case not only about Edenton, but along the entire low-lying coast, which this fall, from Virginia to South Carolina, was visited with numerous fevers…” Schoepf goes on to write that “…there is a belief that there is no way of avoiding frequent sickness, consequently they take little trouble to be rid of their plagues, regarding it as matter of fact that no physician can cure their ‘fever and ague.’” Dr. Schoepf visited a local physician in Edenton and noticed his Peruvian bark which contained quinine and was used as a remedy for malaria that far back.

There is just so much more to write about this mostly forgotten part of our local history. Tune in next week for the Miasmas War!


Picture Books

  • Motor Mouse Delivers – Cynthia Rylant & Arthur Howard
  • Mr. Nogginbody and the Childish Child – David Shannon

Juvenile Fiction

  • Astronuts: Mission Tow: The Water Planet – Jon Scieszka & Steven Weinberg
  • Before the Ever After – Jaqueline Woodson
  • Mr. Lemoncello & the Titanium Ticket – Chris Grabenstein
  • Owl Diaries: Evan in the Spotlight – Rebecca Elliott
  • Press Start! Super Rabbit Boy’s Time Jump – Thomas Flntham

Young Adult

  • The Lost Book of the White – Cassandra Clare

Adult Fiction

  • All the Devils Are Here – Louise Penny
  • Chaos – Iris Johansen
  • If I Were You – Lynn Austin
  • The Jackal – J.R. Ward
  • No Offense – Meg Cabot
  • The Way of Love – Tracie Peterson
  • Large Print
  • The English Daughter – Cindy Woodsmall
  • Half Moon Bay – Jonathan Kellerman
  • Yes, I So – Janet Dailey

Jennifer Finlay is the Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library librarian.