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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Meeting with other Missionaries

Editor's Note:

Marsh was at Rock Island, Illinois, with his Stockbridge companions, gathering information from local authorities about the best way to proceed. The principal Sauk and Fox villages were further down the Missisippi, near the mouths of the Iowa and Des Moines Rivers on the west bank.

Kingsbury and Byington: In the summer and autumn of 1834, two other missionaries working for the same organization that sponsored Marsh were touring Indian nations in the west. Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury was a missionary born in New Hampshire in 1786; he served among the Choctaw and the Cherokee from 1817 until his death in 1870. Cyrus Byington was another missionary, born in Mass. in 1793; he spent most of his career among the Choctaw in Mississippi, until his death in 1868.

Cholera: a bacterial infection of the small intestine producing the sudden onset of massive diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. In the days before antibiotics to kill such bacteria, the disease quickly spread in epidemic proportions, especially in frontier conditions of poor sanitation, crowding, and war. Large numbers of deaths resulted from the rapid dehydration as major cholera epidemics swept Wisconsin from 1832 to 1834 and again from 1849 through 1854. For more information, see our page on disease and epidemics in Wisconsin history.

Thurs 3d [July 1834]

Passed the day with Dr. W[illiamson] in hearing his report from the Sioux and a conversation upon Missionary subjects. In the eve., Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury and Rev. Mr. Byington arrived on board the Steam Boat. The evening before a man had died of the cholera, a very wicked man, too. He had buried his wife at the mouth of the Ohio R. and he is taken and left five children alone in the world.

Found these Brethren apparently possessing the spirit of their station. Zealous and yet judicious, and well calculated as it appears to me for missionaries to the Indians.

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