Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

July 26, 2017

19 September 1952, Polio Epidemic Hits Warrensburg 3 Deaths and 25 Contracted - Gen. Eisenhower Cancels Speech

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952 Campaign Train
General Eisenhower Cancels Speech at Warrensburg, MO Due to Polio Epidemic. An outbreak at Warrensburg, Missouri, caused the cancellation of a whistle-stop speech that General Eisenhower, Republican Presidential nominee, planned to make early on Saturday.

Sept 17, 1952 Kansas City Star 


Buente Children of Warrensburg Weaker in Hospital Here. James L. Buente, 6-month-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Jay H. Buente, Warrensburg, Mo., was in a dangerous condition today at the General hospital where he was taken Monday with polio. A brother, Robert M. Buente, 4 years old, was failing to hold his previous condition of fair. Robert who also has polio, was taken to the hospital Monday. There was no room for the baby's in Warrensburg hospitals. Jamie Buente, 18 months old. a sister, died of polio Sunday at the hospital.

Polio Warrensburg, MO 1952
"The family of Jay H. Buente, a druggist, has been hit particularly hard hit. All three children have been hospitalized. One of them, Jamie Buente, 18 months, died Sunday.   

The Kansas City Star

Warrensburg, Mo., Sept. 16. (1952)— Mayor Harry R. Garrison today proclaimed a state of emergency in this polio-ridden city and flatly prohibited all public gatherings. At the same time, word was received from Lieut. Gov. James T. Blair, Jr., that he was acting, in the absence of Gov. Forrest Smith from the state, to send Missouri board of health officials here to investigate the situation. 

An Epidemic There Now. 

Three polio deaths and twelve cases of the disease within the city, plus a similar number of cases elsewhere in Johnson County, have caused officials to regard it as in epidemic proportions. The mayor, in making the proclamation, gave cognizance to the widespread view among the medical profession here that a defective sewage disposal system is related to the outcropping of polio. All public schools and parks in Warrensburg, Centerview and Leeton previously had been ordered closed, and action today was under way to halt classes for the 1,400 students of Central Missouri State college here. In line with the mayor’s announcement that all possible measures are being taken to cope with the situation, city workers last night began to spray the city with a strong solution of DDT. The process will be continued until the entire city has been treated. 

Proclamation to Every Door. 

The Daily Star Journal, an afternoon newspaper, got out a special edition this morning at the request of city officials to carry the mayor’s proclamation to every home. Copies of the edition were being placed at every door, regardless of whether the occupant was a subscriber. A noticeable result of the danger was a marked drop-off in activity in the business section of town. To observers it appeared that owners and employees of the business houses were virtually alone in the establishments and sales had taken a drastic plunge. Worried adults, in addition to keeping their children at home, apparently were refraining from circulating about as much as possible. One of the by-products of the cancellation of meetings is the clamp on two big political gatherings that had been in the immediate picture. One, a scheduled whistle-stop appearance of General Eisenhower Saturday morning was called off, as was the Democratic rally at which Phil Donnelly, gubernatorial candidate, and Stuart Symington, who is running for senator, were to have addressed a week from tomorrow. Included in the mayor’s text were these remarks: “I hereby proclaim and declare that an emergency exists in the city of Warrensburg and deem it necessary to prohibit all public gatherings of any kind for the, time being. It is also deemed necessary to have all schools close and that no large crowds be allowed to congregate any place within the city limits. There is contributory evidence that our inadequate and obsolete sewage disposal system is a contributing factor to the epidemic, and the city administration is already taking steps to secure an adequate and positive remedy.” Doctors in this frightened city have been blaming a major part of the outbreak on the sewers, and said they have connected every case In the city and and at least two In the county with the Warrensburg sewer problem. A long history behind the present status shows years of battling for new sewers. Despite active support from almost all organizations, city officials and newspapers, a bond issue for the needed installation was voted down in 1946 and again in 1948. " Ironically, the price for a new system has skyrocketed from an estimated $300,000 in 1946 and $470,000 in 1948, to $800,000— which is the amount considered necessary for a new bond issue coming up.

1952...Warrensburg, Mo., Sept. 14.— Polio which has claimed the lives of three of the city's twelve patients, today caused the closing of both the public schools and the laboratory schools of Central Missouri State college. The action was taken by school board and college authorities after two of the four cases admitted to hospitals Thursday and Friday died over the week end. At a special session of the city council it was agreed to have the city sprayed to kill flies, and disinfect possible breeding places of the disease virus. Citizens will be urged to clean up their properties. Billy Parmley, 5, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Parmley who was taken to General hospital in Kansas City Thursday, died of polio early last night, this morning 16-month-old Jamie Buente, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jay Buente, died of the disease at the General hospital. The first death from polio here was Vernon McGraw, 12, son of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard McGraw, last weekend. The total polio victims in Johnson County is now 21. The closing of Warrensburg schools comes on the heels of similar action taken by Leeton in southeastern Johnson County, where there have been six patients. Officials from both schools, Harry R. Garrison, mayor, and state and county health author ties will meet tomorrow morning to determine if further action should be taken. 1952 KC Star

It has been mentioned that Dr. T. Reed Maxson of Warrensburg was one of the true local heroes in stopping the polio epidemic. He urged testing on Jim Buente who showed no signs of polio. The test proved positive and Jim was hospitalized with his brother Bob Buente and received treatment. Both boys survived with no residual effects. For many years after Dr. Maxson gave 100's of children polio immunizations in Warrensburg.T. Reed Maxson, MD
1913 – 2000
Education: University of Kansas – B.S.
University of Kansas School of Medicine – M.D.
Private Practice: General Practice in Warrensburg, Missouri
Team Physician: University if Central Missouri
Phi Sigma Epsilon
Purple Heart
Silver Star

Capt. R. Reed Maxson, also received the Silver Star and was at the Battle of Bulge after surviving D-Day Normandy Beach landings as a Corpsman.
Warrensburg: Game Cancelled by Polio

Sept. 19, 1953

The Iola Register

Warrensburg: Game Canceled by Polio WARRENSBURG, Mo. ) — Because of the polio epidemic: here. Central Missouri State College has cancelled its football game with College of Emporia at Emporia, Kas., Friday night. George W. Diemer, president of Central Missouri State, said the game was called off on recommendation of college administrative officers. The players however, will continue practicing in a moderate form for a game next week with St. Benedict's College of Atchison, Kas., at Kansas City. So far 25 polio cases with three deaths have been reported in Warrensburg and Johnson County, but none within the college student body.

1953 Moberly Monitor-Index Thursday, May 28, 1953

Big Sewer Bond Issue Approved In Warrensburg - $1,300,000 Proposal Carries in Spite of Strong Opposition 

WARRENSBURG - A 1,300,000 sewer bond issue was approved 1,095 to 669, by voters here yes. The passage of the bond issue by a four-sevenths majority is assured although 42 absentee votes are yet to be counted. Fifty-six votes were rejected in the election. Sewage at Warrensburg now runs into small creeks, without treatment, because the city has no disposal plants. Of the $1,300,000 voted, $500,000 is earmarked for the erection of two treatment plants. Following Polio Epidemic A new drive for sewage facilities: The mayor said the action was began last summer when health authorities said Warrensburg's in-adequate sewage system could have contributed to the polio epidemic which took the lives of three and struck down 20 others.

Polio Survivor - Author- Margaret Dieguez (born Margaret Ann DeBacker) was raised in Warrensburg, Missouri. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. Mary College, Leavenworth Kansas and forty-five graduate hours in Education from California State University, Northridge. She has a son Robert Francis and daughter Renee Marie and seven grandchildren. She taught at Our Lady of Lourdes in Tujunga, CA and Quartz Hill High in Quartz Hill, CA. After eight years as a Tupperware manager she worked at College of the Canyons, Valencia, CA as manager of the Career Center. She is now retired and lives in Lancaster, California. The year was 1952.and in one moment that summer my life was changed forever. A dreaded virus was running rampant throughout the United States. Technically called infantile paralysis, this virus was more commonly known as polio. There had been sixty thousand documented cases and three thousand deaths that year, the last big epidemic before Dr. Jonas Salk discovered his vaccine. At fifteen years old I was diagnosed with this disease that the entire United States feared.

My story is one of finding a way to overcome everyday problems posing monumental obstacles. After forty days in an iron lung; in an isolation ward for five months and eight months of rehabilitation, and being unable to use my arms and legs normally I had many challenges. Learning to walk again I married and had children but soon I was alone raising a six year old son and two year old daughter. It is my belief that my life has been what it was supposed to be. I believe I have lived life to the fullest and for that I am forever grateful for all the amazing people who helped me along the way and the amazing God who made it all possible.

Margaret DeBacker  "Margy Dieguez" from Warrensburg, Missouri originally wrote a book about her life with polio, contracted in the summer of 1952.
Margy can be reached via Facebook today.

Margaret Ann DeBacker, Warrensburg, MO 
Afflicted with Polio at Age 15

Margaret Ann DeBacker, Warrensburg, MO, Polio Victim with Pope Pius XII, Actress Helen Hayes,  Actor James MacArthur (Hawaii 50) and Margaret's father at Vatican City.
Margaret Ann DeBacker (Greeted by Pope

Margaret Ann DeBacker "Margy Dieguez" , Born in Warrensburg, Missouri 

This was taken in the hospital in Kansas City Missouri. I received a review on my book, "Amazing Courage"and this was what the reviews said- "I went to high school with this lady and she was one of the sweetest people that I have ever known. What a brave, courageous lady she is. I am one of the clowns in the picture with her in the hospital." I would love to know who the "clown" is in the picture that wrote this review.


NEW YORK/ Sept. l8 (A.A.P.).-The worst poliomyelitis epidemic in Chicago's history is claiming about 20 victims a day.

There is a record number of cases in other mid-western States, including Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

In some centres the authorities have closed State schools and banned children less than l8 years from churches, picture theatres, and other public gatherings.

Iowa State has had 2,026 cases, including 266 during the past week. Of the total,111 have died. In 1950 the number of cases was 399 and 90 persons died.

In Sioux City there have been 39 deaths.

The Chicago health authorities said yesterday that there is no indication that the epidemic has reached "its peak."

Other cities with many victims are Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.

Major polio epidemics were unknown before the 20th century, the disease has caused paralysis and death for much of human history. Over millenia, polio survived quietly as an endemic pathogen until the 1880s when major epidemics began to occur in Europe; soon after, widespread epidemics appeared in the United States. By 1910, frequent epidemics became regular events throughout the developed world, primarily in cities during the summer months. At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio would paralyze or kill over half a million people worldwide every year.

Dr. Jonas Salk

Biography: Jonas Salk
Developer of Polio Vaccine
Born October 28, 1914
Died June 23, 1994

Given that his vaccine was developed in 1955, between his vaccine and the later Sabin vaccine (which began use in 1962), the global incidence of polio has dropped from 300,000+ per year to under 2,000 per year, with hope that a final eradication may occur sometime in the next decade or two. Thus, is could possibly be said that Jonas Salk's vaccine has saved more than a 100 million people. 


About 50 years before this epidemic, the Influenza was hitting Warrensburg..

1918 K. Gail Carmack, Warrensburg, 
MO dies of Influenza

No comments: