In 1906, Henry Warren was on vacation with his family in Oyster Bay, NY. They had hired an Irish woman, by the name of Mary Mallon (1869 – 1938), as their cook. The family LOVED her ‘peaches on ice’ dish along with everything else she cooked. After a short period, Mary left to look for another job.
After a few weeks, 6 out 11 members of the Warren house contracted Typhoid fever. At the time, it was thought this disease only effected poor people in the slums – living in filthy conditions. In shock over how his wealthy household could have Typhoid, an investigator was called in.
It had recently been documented that healthy people could carry the disease, so the investigator immediately suspected the cook. He tracked her down to another household but just missed her. sort of. Mary was hiding in an outdoor closet. After many tests, they discovered that she did, indeed, carry the virus- with no symptoms.
She spent three years in an isolation hospital… but the public got wind of a healthy woman in an asylum and demanded her release. The officials let her go, but only under the condition that she have her gall bladder removed – or – stopped working as a cook.
Mary did not follow the stipulations set and disappeared.
In 1915 there was an outbreak of Typhoid in Sloan Maternity Hospital in NY. The hospital’s cook was, you guessed it, Mary Mallon (using the alias Mrs. Brown).
She was committed to the isolation hospital once again and stayed until her death in 1938.
“The Most Harmless and yet Most Dangerous Woman in America” – Headline, 1909.