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Looking Back: Smallpox Epidemic Feared 

Looking Back

Click here to see the full front page of the April 18, 1936 Paso Robles Times and to read the notice from Allen F. Gilliham, MD, County Health Officer

Excerpt from the Paso Robles Times, Saturday April 18, 1936

Health Officer Urges Immediate Inoculation

A smallpox “scare” resulting from the sudden death of Fred Hickok Sunday, has been gaining momentum in Paso Robles since Wednesday. By Friday, the usual rumors were current on the street, and reports of anything from a single case to an epidemic were heard.

A check-up of all local physicians late Friday night revealed however that there is NO SMALLPOX IN PASO ROBLES at present.

On the other hand, every citizen of northern San Luis Obispo county has been warned of the danger of an epidemic of the fatal disease and, in order to prevent it, has been asked to be inoculated against it as soon as possible.

The resident county nurse, Miss Madeline Avilla, reports that prior to this morning, over 100 persons have received inoculations this week in Paso Robles. Nearly all local school children and a large number of adults have already received the treatment.

Editorial Note: Dr. Allen F. Gillihan, county health officer at the time issued a written statement about the situation. Click the image of the Paso Robles Times above to read the notice from Dr. Gilliham and the full front page.

Read previous Looking Back articles

This “Looking Back” view at Paso Robles history comes from one of the hundreds of local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. Several local newspapers, dating from the 1800s, have reported on local, national and world events, providing priceless historical views of our community that are not available from any other source. The Historical Society is seeking community support for the multi-phased Newspaper Preservation Project to help fund the transfer of these aged and fragile pages to microfilm and digital images. See the society website for more information about becoming a member or donating to any phase of this project.

The Paso Robles Daily News is pleased to support this important project. Watch this space for future “Looking Back” articles.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at