Baby name story: Quarantine

quarantine bennett schmidt, gravestone,

Frederick W. Schmidt and his wife and their seven children lived in Galveston, Texas, in the 1800s.

They must have been a pretty well-known bunch, as a large section of their land — called “Schmidt’s Garden” — was a popular gathering spot:

Schmidt’s Garden was one of the most popular places on Galveston Island for outdoor recreation between 1873 and 1887. Dances, athletic events, and beer-drinking contests also were held at the Garden, which boasted an octagon shaped dance hall, a saloon and a refreshment stand.

Among the Schmidts’ children was boy named Quarantine.

Sources disagree on exactly which year Quarantine Schmidt was born, but his grave marker says “1853.” According to Schmidt family legend, Quarantine was born during a yellow fever epidemic, and that’s exactly what happened in 1853. That year in Galveston, “approximately 60 percent of the 5,000 residents became sick and 523 persons died.”

Where does the word “quarantine” come from?

The practice of quarantine—the separation of the diseased from the healthy—has been around a long time. … It wasn’t until the Black Death of the 14th century, however, that Venice established the first formal system of quarantine, requiring ships to lay at anchor for 40 days before landing. (“Quarantine” comes from the Latin for forty.)

I’m not sure if Quarantine ever needed to be quarantined, but he didn’t succumb to any of the later yellow fever epidemics in Galveston. He lived until 1931 — well into his 70s.


Image from Find a Grave: Quarantine Bennett Schmidt by Floyd Lanny Martin

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