The Quarantine of 1930 in Richland Parish
As one might expect, there was more than a fair share of opponents, including the editor of the Richland Beacon-News. Here’s an editorial that ran, questioning the wisdom and need for quarantine.
Editorial – “The Quarantine of 1930”
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana
26 Jul 1930, Sat • Page 4
Just where are we and why on this quarantine? Under stress of impassioned excitement and to appease those whose judgment was concerned, the health board passed a rigid quarantine that no member believed was warranted by the conditions. Then the board met and removed a number of the more stringent regulations, and yet we do not understand all we know about it.
With not a case of infantile paralysis in the town of Rayville and only eleven cases in the parish since the outbreak of the present epidemic (if you would call it such), there are many who can not understand why we should bottle up our town, cripple its business and financially embarrass our people with whom the hard times is already dealing rather harshly.
Let us get back to earth and employ common sense and reason. We have had time, we hope, for everyone to get back to normal since the flare-up the first of the week. Unless we do adopt sanity and common sense as our guide we shall kill our town as dead as the traditional “heck’s pup.”
Delhi gladly relieved us of the Folk School, which seemed to provoke the breach among our people. It has been going on all the week over there, and everybody is happy. Let us now return to our former selves and begin anew to rebuild all that has been torn down in our town, and unless this work is sincerely begun in earnest right now, everyone will be the sufferer.
There may still be unnecessary and useless punitive features of the quarantine. Let us keep amending this measure until the least possible harm may come therefrom with the greatest possible protection to the children at the same time. This is necessary to advertise our town and its people in the right light to the remainder of the world.
THE RICHLAND BEACON-NEWS, RAYVILLE, LOUISIANA
26 JUL 1930, SAT • PAGE 4
Mr. George Franklin, Sr. responds to Beacon editorial and criticisms of the 1930 Quarantine in Rayville
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana
02 Aug 1930, Sat • Page 1
To Mr. H. A. Mangham, Editor, The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, La.
Dear Sir: Your editorial of July 26th, headed “The Quarantine,” was read with much interest and the writer would like to try and enlighten you on this subject. According to your editorial, you did not understand what this quarantine was all about, except that you thought “stress of impassioned excitement” was the cause of the Town Board of Health placing this quarantine on Rayville.
The writer, a member of this Board, felt the need for quick action to prevent the possible spread of a dreaded disease to our Town, and while you are a member of the Parish Board of Health did not see the necessity of preventing large gatherings. You were aware that a crowd of approximately two to three thousand people was expected in Rayville daily from Monday until Friday, which the citizens of Rayville, as a whole, did not want on account of the infantile paralysis in adjacent parishes, all of whom were invited to Rayville during these five days.
The doctors in this parish, adjoin ing parishes and in fact the whole State advised against crowds and especially children, and that small children should be kept at home, regardless of any quarantine. There were thirty-five cases of this dreaded disease in Franklin Parish when this quarantine was placed, and since that time, I notice that two new cases have developed, making thirty-seven cases, and every man, woman, and child from Franklin Parish was invited to Rayville.
This does not take into consideration those invited from other communities where this disease is found. You stress the point’ that not a case of active paralysis was in Rayville when this quarantine was placed. This, I agree with you, but having a son five years of age whose welfare I did not want to jeopardize or the welfare of other citizens’ children for the small benefit the merchants of Rayville may have received.
A petition of the representative citizens of Rayville was presented to the City Council bearing 151 signatures who felt the need of this quarantine, and after due consideration, the same was ordered by the Town Board of Health and made an ordinance by the Mayor and City Council. On Monday, July 21st, you made a statement to me that the doctors of Richland Parish had misinformed you in regard to this infantile paralysis and as soon as this “fire” was over, you were going to resign from the Parish Board.
This, no doubt, you will do within a short time. As a member of the Town Board of Health, I did what I thought best for the welfare of the community and feel sure that all other members did what they thought best under prevailing conditions, thinking it unwise and unsafe to allow any large gatherings. It can be – readily seen why you were not interested to any great extent, as your children are above the age of danger and had no cause to get excited. The writer, personally, will be glad to give you any other information you may desire in regard to this quarantine, especially if you are not yet convinced that Infantile Paralysis is a dangerous disease. I am registering this letter to you and will appreciate you publishing same in your next issue, advising cost of publication.
Yours truly, GEORGE B. FRANKLIN.