Today, it is rare that one hears about a case of hydrophobia, also known as rabies. This was not always the case. In the past, the word struck terror in a neighborhood because the only hope of survival was by applying a mad stone, which consisted of compacted vegetable and mucous matter found in the stomach of a deer.

The following article appeared in the Warren Republican.

“On the 6th, a mad dog appeared at the farm of Tom Barlett’s, 1 mile south of Carbondale, at about sunrise and succeeded in biting one of the dogs at Mr. B’s. He was driven away and was next heard of at the farm of John Sawyer where he bit a pig in the nose.

"From Sawyer’s he went to the schoolhouse where Frank Clark is teaching, but Mr. C. succeeded in clubbing it away.

"The morning following, Thursday, he turned up at Joel S. Briggs’ farm, in Jordan Township, where he attacked Briggs’ dogs, and finally getting into the hog lot bit several hogs. The same day he came back to Bartlett’s where he attacked two fine hounds belonging to Frank Bartlett, one of which it is thought was bitten.

"Mr. Bartlett succeeded in separating the dogs when he fired at the mad dog, striking him in the side and succeeded, it is supposed in killing him.

"On Thursday of last week the Sawyer pig became mad and in one of its fits bit the family dog, which is now kept chained to await developments. The pig died last Saturday.

"Last Saturday one of the bitten hogs at Briggs’ was taken with spasms which Mr. B. and Jno. O’Kane supposed were caused from choking. They attempted to relieve it but failing Mr. B. went to Barlett’s to get him to go and see it. Learning there the facts about the Sawyer pig, he concluded his hog was affected the same way, and returned home. The two men in their efforts to relieve the mad hog had got some of the froth from the hog’s mouth on their hands and noticing that their hands were sore in two or more places they became quite anxious and on Monday morning both went to Terre Haute to have the mad stone applied.

"All of the stock on Mr. Briggs’ place, supposed to have been bitten, has been penned up or fastened up to await results. The hound of Frank Barlett, bitten, has shown indications of hydrophobia and it is now fastened up and closely watched.

"The dog which was mad was a bull dog, black and white spotted, and a stranger in that part of the county. No one knows where it came from and no one knows how many dogs, horses, hogs, or cattle it has inoculated with its terrible virus. Everyone should be constantly upon the watch and their premises well guarded.”

The following week the paper reported: “A fat hog belonging to H.C. Swisher, on the J.P. Hunter farm in Liberty Township, weighing 250 pounds, since our report last week, has died from the effects of hydrophobia, and up to present eight hogs have died, belonging to Joel S Briggs, John Sawyer and H.C. Swisher.

"Mr. Briggs has 3 hogs and 1 cow still alive that are supposed to be mad. The dog which was shot has since been found dead, lying about 300 yards from Thos. Bartlett’s residence.

"No one can tell how far the disease will extend before checked, as no one knows how many animals have been bitten. Everyone should be upon the watch for rabid animals and ready at a moment’s warning to shoot all such down wherever found.”

Terri Wargo writes for the Warren County, Indiana, Historical Society.

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