McCrary Fever

Source: The Kansas City Star, January 7, 1945.

One of the most interesting rural graveyards in this section of the state is the McCrary graveyard in Daviess County, a few miles north of Hamilton, not only because of the number of pioneers who lie there but also because of its well kept condition. Now over 110 years old, it is still being used for ocassional burials.

The burial ground belonged to the pioneer James McCrary family which came into the country from North Carolina in 1833, before there was any Daviess County. It was then a part of Ray County. McCrary brought with him his wife and ten children, one child having been born on the long trip here. The father died in 1835. His death started the McCrary graveyard, but today no one knows exactly where either he or his wife lie. The graves were marked with field stones, and many other early graves were marked in the same way.

Many of the death dates in the cemetery show the date of 1858, which has a significance. That year was the first appearance of typhoid fever in this section, which struck down many victims. It raged especially in the McCrary locality, and so it became known as the McCrary Fever as the settlers had never heard of the name "typhoid."

The legend says that the fever was halted when the people began taking doctors' medicine instead of brewing herbs. But the getting of the doctors' medicine involved a tale of heroism by a twelve year old boy. He rode forty miles to get the precious medicine only to find on his return that the creek was up and he could not ford it. He called to the "yon-siders" who came to the shore. Then he peeled off his shirt, wrapped a stone with the bottle of medicine to give it weight, and hurled the bundle over the creek for them to take to his home where his family were near death. It saved further deaths, but the term "McCrary Fever" persisted for many decades in the community.

The McCrary family still dominates the neighborhood, all descended from these ten children who came from North Carolina 112 years ago.