Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Senatobia, Mississippi, to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 27, 1878 [Digital Version]

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DePelchin, Kezia P. (Payne), 1828-1893, Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Senatobia, Mississippi, to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 27, 1878 (October 27, 1878)

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Title: Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Senatobia, Mississippi, to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 27, 1878 [Digital Version]
Funding from: Funding for the creation of this digitized text is provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Author: DePelchin, Kezia P. (Payne), 1828-1893
Statements of responsibility:
  • Creation of digital images: Center for Digital Scholarship, Rice University
  • Creation of transcription: Amanda York Focke, Asst. Head of Special Collections, Woodson Research Center
  • Conversion to TEI-conformant markup: Amanda York Focke, Asst. Head of Special Collections, Woodson Research Center
  • Parsing and proofing: Humanities Research Center and Fondren Library, Rice University
  • Subject analysis and assignment of taxonomy terms: Melissa Torres
Publisher: Rice University, Houston, Texas
Publication date: 2010-06-07
Identifier: aa00184_14
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Notes:
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Provenance: This collection was given as a permanent loan from Charles McBrayer of the DePelchin Faith Home in 1973.
Description: 25 handwritten pages, most of the letter about nursing the Dickey family, two children and the father die, mother survives
Source(s): DePelchin, Kezia P. (Payne), 1828-1893, Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Senatobia, Mississippi, to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 27, 1878 (October 27, 1878)
Source Identifier: Kezia Payne DePelchin letters, MS 201, Box 1, letter 14, p. 105-129, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
Description of the project: This digitized text is part of the Our Americas Archive Partnership (OAAP) project.
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This text has been encoded based on recommendations from Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Any comments on editorial decisions for this document are included in footnotes within the document with the author of the note indicated. All digitized texts have been verified against the original document. Quotation marks have been retained. For printed documents: Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. No corrections or normalizations have been made, except that hyphenated, non-compound words that appear at the end of lines have been closed up to facilitate searching and retrieval. For manuscript documents: Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. We have recorded normalizations using the reg element to facilitate searchability, but these normalizations may not be visible in the reading version of this electronic text
Languages used in the text: English
Text classification
Keywords: Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Correspondence
Keywords: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Yellow fever--Mississippi--History--19th century
  • Yellow fever--History--United States
  • Disease outbreaks--History--United States
Keywords: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
  • Senatobia (inhabited place)
  • Mississippi (state)


105

Senatobia.

My dear Sister.

This is Sunday. a day of rest. I cannot
go to church. will therefore write to you. something
of the ravages of the disease. that like a tornado
has swept over the beautiful little town.-
After tea at Mr. Matthis' he took me up to Mr. Dickey's
which I found was quite the other side of town. Mr. Dickey


106

was at the gate waiting; I told Mr. M. not to come in.
but Mr. Dickey still thought his son did not have yellow
fever, I told him company was not good for sick
people. That night wagons were still moving out
the last family. now there were five. left in the
place scattered up and down. one of these was Mr.
Royall's. he and his wife had both had the fever.
and they were very kind to others.-

I went into the house. met Mrs Dickey, and her
daughter Mattie, a ayoung girl of 17 years.- there
was also a young man, a friend of Dabney Dickey
Mr. C. Saunders.- who was willing to stay by his
friend.- I persuaded Mr. and Mrs Dickey to lie down and
take some rest; I tried to get Mattie away, as I saw she
was not well. her eyes were watery. but she would not. she
seemed to love her brother devotedly; Dabney Dickey
was about 24 years of age. he had assisted in
burying one of the yellow fever victims of the
last few days.- on Sunday night he was taken
down himself.- his symptoms were very bad, restless
a dry spot on his tongue. very nervous.- Dr.


107

French, the only physician who remained was attending
him. but by eight o'clock P.M. soon after I was
installed as nurse; Dr. Carswell came from Memphis,
he staid a very short time: sent up directions.
from town; I followed them closely; and in the
morning I thought Dabney was at least no worse, I waited
for the Doctor, none came. his bowels were affected but
as checking them so often produced black vomit. I waited
he was so bad I used the starch and laudnaum. enima,
no avail. The Doctor came in, but all efforts availed
nothing, by night. it took four of us to hold him in
bed; Meantime Mattie was taken down. On Tuesday morn
she was evidently taking the fever. I prevailed on
her to take some medicine and lie down. she would
get up and declare she was well; Three times that
day I brought her in. She finally towards evening
laid down on a bed in the same room with her
brother, there were only two rooms, kitchen and loft
to the house.- very soon she was delirious.-
I asked for a man to help me. Mr. Roman came.
The colored woman was dead. so Sarah was at leisure.

108

a boy was sick. Louis was attending him, I concluded
to let Sarah rest tonight. and then send for her in the
morning to help with Mattie. Mrs Dickey staid with Mattie
when I had to wait on Dabney; - but about ten when Dab-
ney
Regularized:Dabney
had been furious, knocking everything right and
left, he seized my hand. said. "if you will stay
by me I will be still," I stood by him. and if for
one minute. I went to Mattie, he would glare at
Mr. Roman. and try to spring. so I just staidRegularized:stayed with him.
about daylight. it was evident he was going. fast. his
Father had been by him much of the night, but both
his parents were so nervous. I tried to keep them away-
about an hour before death. he began to turn a
bronze color as if he was bronzed with a brush. Then I under-
stood
Regularized:understood
why they called this fever Bronze John. whi I
never admired the slang phrase. Yellow Jack. but I
could understand it. as most turn yellow.- but
Bronze John I could not comprehend until that
minute; he died. Mr. Roman and I laid him
out, I insisted on the unacclimated ones staying
away; The coffin was brought and put down at the
door. Mr. Roman called on me to help him put himthe body
in. "I can't" I said. "I can't". then he said I must call

109

callhis father. you will not let anyone. come about.
that is unacclimated. For me the trial was great, but for
a parent to put his own child in the coffin was greater.
I helped to put him in; with feeling of agony.-
I had washed his face and brushed his hair. arranged.
his collar neatly. for his mother to take her last look.-
but this last broke me down;

We had hung curtains aroung Mattie's bed. but
could keep from her that her brother was dead.-
She seemed to be affected by it. but her fever was
so high; she was delirious most of the time.-

Right here at Dabney's death on Wednesday. I will
go back and relate. how things were managed. I told
you the families were most of them gone out of
town: tents were provided for those who had no other shel-
ter
Regularized:shelter
: It was proposed to Mr. & Mrs Dickey to go out into
the country and leave. Mattie and Dabney with the
nurses. but they refused. and amid all the
fright and confusion attendant thereon. it gives.
me pleasure to bear testimony: to the brave con-
duct
Regularized:conduct
of some; but these were parents. ties of
love held them. and besides them re were
other brave hearts who bravfaced the common


110

enemy.- and if needs be lay down their lives
Lives that were dear to them, and no doubt to others
too I write those names. only wishing I could inscribe
them in gold, but they are written. in brighter.
more lasting characters than my pen can trace.
where they will shine, when we are on earth earthRegularized:Earth forgotten.-

J A Moss President. Dr. W.A. French physician.-
Sam F Massey acting Pres. J M Saunders Sec &; Treas.
P M B Wait acting Mayor Dabney Dickey
E P Russell C L Mc Clendon
Ed Dreschow E Re Stratton.
W E Bostwick. H C Saunders.
L P Smith. T J Prophet.
Geo Dickey.
Colored members
Aleck Tate . Ford McKeet.
York Jenkins . Obed O'neal.

These gentlemen mostly single men. had
formed a club; called themselves. Andersons.
after Butler P Anderson. who served the town
of Granada so faithfully. was a native of Tate Co.-
As the fever did not appear among them until over at
Granada. they collected funds. to hire a nurse from.


111

Granada. (Mr. Roman.) to go to Hernando. How they needed it
all themselves: On Sunday. Oct 6 it was pronounced yellow fever.
Mrs Saunders her daughter. and Mrs Dean all had it, Julia Saunders.
had died: The panic on Sunday three o'clock P M must at
least have been lively. wagons were going all night into the day on
Monday as I told you, I think there were two other Doctors
in the place. Dr. French alone remained; On Monday night
a meeting was called. and the Andersons, made the
following arrangements as far I learned. and I know
they were carried out in this way; Dr. French was employed
as physician. Mr. McLendon attended to the funerals. -Obed-
O'Neal assisted him. M Saunders was druggist. L.P.
Smith wascommissary. T. J Prophet. went round foraging
that is he would go as near to a farm house as he
dared, the halloo they would bring out what they
had to spare, a coop of chickens. a basket of
eggs etc. place them on the fence. and he took
them. they who placed them there retreating to a safe
distance; E.P. Russell. Telegrapher. Ed Dreschow
E R Stratton W E Bastwick. Clay Saunders were visitors
The President and Mayor kept order.- Dabney and
Geo Dickey. got their demit from this world
and entered the Lodge above.- Of the

112

colored members. Alec Tate. Ford McKee. were visitors,
they chopped our wood. drew water. went errands. York
Jenkins was cook; besides this. Mr. Bostwick furnished
us with a newspaper about the size of a lady's pocket
handkerchief; and others of the Andersons. patroled at
night. kept any unacclimated from coming into town.
Now how could we all live? The prisoners were removed
out of town. the jail was a large building a room
in that was filled up for a dining room. and in the
Court House. in the adjoining lot. two rooms were
set apart for lodging rooms for Nurses; Just think
of it taken charge of by the Sheriff. eating in the
jail, sleeping in the Court-house a nice state of
affairs. to write home. to Houston or to you.-
was it a crime to be a Nurse? no. but the houses were
all closed. and Andersons, Doctor and all. ate
in the jail. I ate at Mr. Dickey's as long as
I could. I disliked to leave the house. - but I have.
not said anything: about Mr. Massie. to his
energy. I can scarcely do justice; he planned and
carried out the measures. aforesaid. he was
visitor. patrol. and I don't know what more.- he
put me in mind of the boy who tried to count

113

the chickens. but could not count the speckled
rooster. because he was here, and there, and everywhere
to once; or as I should say. when speaking of an Editor
and gentleman as he is. he was ubiquitous; I know he
would excuse any having a joke at his expense; now you
will understand when I say Andersons. going to the jail
to meals etc. This was Wednesday. I felt Sarah was rested. and
sent for her to come just about the time Dabney died.
She immediately wanted to turn his bedstand round. to
make him die easy. I told her please attend to Mattie.-
You will remember. I told you Mr. Simmons. told
me not to work too hard. don't let us hear of you
washing and cooking he said. I now found that Sarah had
laid this injunction to her heart; I cleared away.
the bedding. in fact threw it out of the window
to save Mattie being annoyed by seeing it taken
out; Mrs Dickey came and sat down by her. it
seemed a relief to her to wait on her and to Mattie
to have her mother near her.- Mrs Dickey had prepared
dinner ready to be put on the stove. I cleared and
swept the room. removing every thing that had been used
for Dabney.- I saw I must set up that night with
Mattie, and declared my intention of going to the

114

Court-house to sleep. two or three hours. I looked
round, and seeing a plate with mustard, a cup and a spoon
used for medicine. I said to Sarah I see I have left them, while
Mrs Dickey waits on her daughter. you can wash them up.
"I don't think I shall" she replied "Mr. Simmons told us not
to wash." I said you can leave them then till I return, but
I have not asked you to do any more than I have done my-
self
Regularized:myself
. She said "you was nurse here, it was your place to clean
up," as I did not want to leave Mrs Dickey alone, I did not
reply. but Mrs Dickey not hearing the conversation. came
to set by Mattie. and said "Sarah the meat is in the pan
the potatoes are washed, please put them on the stove.
when Mr. Dickey comes in he will need something." "No"
said Sarah "Mr. Simmons: said our meals was to be
prepared for us. I don't expect to cook. and Mrs De is
nothing but a nurse herself; to tell me to wash up.
I heard enough but said nothing then. I went down
saw Mr. Massey. told him I had been considerate of
Sarah but I took no further charge. of her.
though I resented no personal affront; IMr. Massey
sent me some dinner to my room in the court house.
I told him to send some one to wcall me at five
it was then three: which he did and a nice

115

cup of coffee. As there was no other. woman to be
had and Mrs Dickey, was evideently taking the fever.-
I told Mr. Massey, I suppose we had better let Sarah remain.
but she might sleep.- I went back . Mattie was very sick
we could not raise a perspiration. with a hot bath. then
I sponged her. but meantime where was Mr. Dickey.? gone
out into the field and with his head down. crying his
heart out for his boy. Mrs D. was 60 years. of course Dabney
was his hope; he came in. he and his wife got supper.-
so Sarah had hers prepared for her.- Before night Mrs
Dickey was down. but her fever was not high; she was
quite rational. She was not in the same room but the door
being open I could see her. How we worked with Mattie
that night, I insisted on Mr. Dickey lying down.
The Drs. told us to sponge Mattie, constantly. I worked
on her as if for my very life. Sarah was put to
wait on Mrs Dickey.- Mr. D. soon got up and helped me.
for if I asked Sarah to do anything. for me. soshe was
so fractious: told me she was no child to be ordered
by me; I was surprised, as I spoke kindly to her
and all who had nursed with me before has liked
to do anything for me. about half a dozen. when
my name was called to come here asked me to please

116

let them come with me. but I had no choice in the
matter. towards morning I got some coffee and biscuit:
I offered her some. She looked at it "I can't eat the
likes of that I'd like some warm rice. I replied rather
sharply. "you'll have to cook it then" No. Mr. Simmons said
I won't to cook. I thought to myself. botheration to
Mr. Simmons and his orders. or for giving me
such an assistant. although I know he did all he
did for the best: She wound up her career. by try-
ing
Regularized:trying
to make. Mrs Dickey. take some rice. but she refused.
saying. she had heard no one should eat solid food. I let
Sarah go in peace. but I should very much enjoyed. seeing
some one kick her out off doors: Mr. Massey asked me
if I wanted her discharged. I said "not on my account. but
told him just what she was. they must take the chances
if they kept her, " she made no scruple of telling me what
she thought I ought to do; all day Thursday. Mattie. was
delirious. her temperature was 105 1/2 She had lucid inter-
vals
Regularized:intervals
. then twice she prayed in an audible voice.
prayed for herself, her parents, and her brother; sometimes
she would throw her arms around me. and thank me for
waiting on her; arms that were like burning iron
her breath on my face was like the blast of a furnace.

117

The fever was spreading. other nurses were sent down.
one was sent here on Thursday night. and Sarah was
sent to rest at the Court House.- Mattie, was going.-
the black vomit was passing through her bowels.-
it was hard to wait on her. for she was not
rational: still Mr. Dickey. was so devoted to her. and
to his wife, that I did all that was to be done cheerfully.
By midnight Thursday night a cold watery sweat.
appeard. the black discharges. continued: she trembled.
I found I could be of no further use. the other
nurse was fresh and wiling. she was black, named
Ellen: I laid down on the floor before the fire.-
I arose by morning.- by daylight Mattie died.-
This was Friday. as we told the day of the month,
Mr. Dickey said "this is my birthday," and it was
his child's birthday in the Spirit-land;

We washed and dressed the body.- dressed it in a
dress worn but once before on the last Sabbath to
Church, how little we know what we are doing
little indeed did Mattie think as she plied her
needle. and made her dress so neatly. that she was
making her shroud; or little did her parents think
the last Sabbath. when they saw their children


118

go forth to Church. before another Sabbath. they would behold.
their Maker and Redeemer; face to face.

This day I went to the Court House a little while
I also ate at the jail. it was not far from Mr.
Dickey's. Thursday. Wednesday. Mr. Roman came up to dis-
infect
Regularized:disinfect
, the bed and clothing where Dabney had died;
he had a mixture he sprinkled it with; I had a dis-
cussion
Regularized:discussion
with Drs. on the best manner of disinfecting:
Dr. French was for burning; Dr. McCully thought the
fumes of feather beds and cotton mattresses. too heavy to be
in a town. he prefered burying them; I think most
of Memphis Doctors came to that opinion; I advocate. the
burying on this principle: when Texas boys. go hunting
and instead of a ' coon they catch a skunk; they
change their clothes. and bury the clothes. for
several days. they then aver they can take them
up, all sweet and free. from smell. there is not much
difference between yellow fever and a pole cat as
far as fragrance is concerned; If everything could
be burned without smell; of course. burning is most
effective. but there are many things that cannot be
burned or buried either; I asked about the sprin-
kling
Regularized:sprinkling
the clothing. one or both Doctors said they


119

must be passed through the water; I had felt sure
of this before. I mention this to show you what now was
plainly my duty;

I had become calloused. in handling anything. I had
helped to lay Mattie out. and had helped to lay her in
her coffin. but I cleaned her nails and took the
Jewish precaution of running the needle. down the nail
if possible; I always wished for some Death test.
though as I always washed and dressed the bodies.-
of the dead. I felt safer than if we had just hud-
dled
Regularized:huddled
them in, to the coffin; and I prayed God
to safesave us from any mistakes.

Now there were two feather beds. one cotton mattress.-
about six quilts. besides sheets. etc the worst, that came
from next her body I burnt. in less than five min-
utes
Regularized:minutes
after it was taken off. I found the sprinkled
articles were not disinfected, enough.- but I had
had no time to even look at them before. I forget
the disinfectant used, - but I got Alec. to draw me some
water. I put the tub close to a large boiler in the
yard. I put the quilts to soak in the tub. then
as the water got hot in the boiler. lifted them
one by one into it; gave them a boil. lifted them
* Iron pyrites.


120

with a stick. into cold water again. then wrung
a little water out got them on the fence. to dry.
This was hard work. but it had to be done. Mr. Roman
said he did not have time to help me. and it was not
his place, or mine either: every rag that had been used.
I scraped up and burned.- that helped to make my pot
boil; Mr. Dickey regretted my having to do this. I saw
a colored man going past who had had the first case of fever.-
I told him I would pay him to help me. no. he felt as if
he had a chill right then. now for the beds.
Mr. Dickey dug the hole. but the garden
had been ploughed. it was not soabout three feet deep butand wide.-
then he went in the house. I got a wheel barrow. put
the beds on it one at a time: wheeled them to the
hole, and dumped them in: also one or two quilts
that were worse than the rest, and five pillows.-
I do not say my wheelbarrow did not turn over.
two or three times in my trip as I had
to navigate through some tomato vines.-
now: I took the spade to pack down and cover
my beds. I did it, not very smoothly.- and when I was

121

through. I trembled in every joint in a way. that showed
me. I shall never make a fortune. hoeing corn or scrap-
ing
Regularized:scraping
cotton: all this took me until Saturday: evening
but then I had four quilts dry. also one large, gentle-
man's
Regularized:gentleman's
shawl. that had been ofon Dabney's bed. for a blanket.-
Two government mattresses. and a pair of single blankets.
with each, had been sent. . Mrs Dickey had one blanket on
her bed; she has also quilts sufficient. to keep her warm
at night; I was through;
I went in and
laid down on a mattress while Mr. Dickey got supper.-
On Friday night. he and I took turns watching
Mrs Dickey; he slept until the small hours of
the morning; then I slept, until six. tonight, Saturday.
I slept until half past eleven, I then got up. Mr.
Dickey laid down. there was a good fire in the room; In
the next room where the two had died. I had removed
one bedstead.- and. opened both windows: to let the
cold night air purify. the room: soon after tweleve
o'clock. Mr. Dickey told me to get him some more cover. he
was cold. I piled on all I could get. without taking

122

those just washed; brightened the already large fire.
put a warm brick to his feet.- then I went and lighted
the fire in the next room. put on water ready for a bath.
for I feared the worst. gave my quilts another airing by
the fire; put a mattress on the bedstead. which was too
wide for one, too narrow for two. I covered the slats. put
the blankets on the bed. so that nothing wasshould benext him
that had been near his children; About six o'clock Mr.
Dickey. woke. he sat up said he felt too sick to het up. I got
him to the bed in the next room. gave him a hot bath. etc.
mustard emetic. and when Alec Tate came to see if we wanted
anything; sent for the Doctor. Drs. French and McCully.
both came. said I had done right. and Dr. McCully.
remarked. "there was a frost last night." I shuddered.
in Texas we look on those cases as fatal taken on
the night of the first frost: It was Sunday. some
nurses came down on the train: Mr. Roman brought
up a Miss Emma Hamilton to assist me. She is a West-
Indian
Regularized:West-Indian
. had nursed at the Market Street Infirmary.-
I thought a man would havebeen better. for Mr. Dickey.-
but it is better as it was.- She was intelligent and

123

willing to do anything that came to hand, without waiting
to consider if it was her place to do it or not; I do not
know what we should have done if we had been very fas-
tidious
Regularized:fastidious
. for besides attending to the sick. we feed the
chickens and the pigs. we made ownour own tea or
coffee. and one went to the jail to eat and took
a basket and brought something for the other.
because Mr. York Jenkins. and his assistant did not
keep the table spread for breakfast from seven till
ten for breakfast; Eleven to two, for dinner. &c.
At night. we took the mattress left.then Mr. Massey hadsent us
another one. One of us slept half the night; Alec chopped
our wood; as usual. Mr. Roman. being promototed to
Superintendent of nurses. rode round with medi-
cine
Regularized:medicine
. brought directions from the Doctor sometimes
giving in a little extra advice by way of
good measure; Mr. Dickey's symptoms were all
good. he kept up a perspiration. a blanket over
him with a light quilt was enough.- The Doctors
were well pleased with him. but still his fever did
not break. I remarked to Miss Hamilton on Tuesday,

124

If he is better why don't this fever break? By Wednesday.
his head did not ache. but his temperature did not
lower. 99 I had seen that fatal symptom too often
to be deceived, he woke from a sleep slightly delirious.
I sent for the Doctors. By Thursday. he was evidently dying.
Dr. French spoke of the awfull smell. every thing about
the room was clean. it was from the sick man.-
He constantly tried to get up.- it took us both
to attend to him. on Thursday night Mr. Roman came
an hour or two. but our task was more trying.
as Mrs Dickey was so worried we could hardly pacify
her. some one would we bring us something to eat.
and we staid by them. I would put something
on the table to eat. be called and there it would be
forgotten. Friday Mr. Dickey kept muttering incoherently.
Friday night. Dr. French. sent up. Mr. Roman and Louis,
two or three of the Andersons came up to know
if there was anything they could do. one or two
had always come to the gate to askask if aught was
needed; by 11 at night. Mr. Dickey spoke plainer; he called
his wife by her christian name; but did not seem to know

125

anyone. I was setting up the first part of the night
with Louis. Left Mr. Roman and Miss H. to finish.
because he had been so used to have us about him. I
was afraid he would feel the change; Mrs Dickey called
me begged me to let her up and go to him. Said she,
"we have been married 27 years. I never was away from
him in sickness;" Hers had been such a lingering attack
I knew I was running a risk, but could not refuse
her. I dressed her. put a shawl around her. supported her
with my arm. led her to the bedside. begged her
to control herself. Once he seemed to recognize her
but to me that scene was more than I could hear.-
I got her back. to bed and laid down beside her.
a few minutes. I staidRegularized:stayedup awhile longer; Clay Saunders
who had staid with Dabney. was watching through
the window. the last hours of an old friend;
Mr. Roman and Miss Hamilton now took charge.-
By six in the morning he died; Mr. Roman and
Louis laid him out; soon Dr. McCully sent a request
to hold a postmortem examination: The result is in
Dr. French's report. Poor Mrs Dickey. she was indeed

126

alone; In looking over these cases. I cannot even now
think of aught that was left undone: I tried as hard
as I could. the Andersons provided all that was necessa-
ry
Regularized:necessary
. and to me it seemed the medical treament was
right; With the Son, and daughter, the fever was very
mailgnant: with the Father he was so full of the fever
poison from waiting on them. then his age. his taking
it on the first frosty night. all was against him.
No one had moved back in the neighborhood;
so I took the mattress. bed clothes. down into the
garden. made a fire of dry leaves. Louis helped me.
and burnt each article. quickly, the mattress. was.
moss; very light, now why did I not try to save them this
time? because there as no one else to take the fever.- Mrs
Dickey had enough to cover her. and WeI had taken
some of course to cover us at night. I was careful that
only the same things were used for Mr. Dickey; When
I washed the quilts. before. I knew no stores were open
to buy anything. I did not know if we could get them
in Memphis or not. for even there as I told you. there
might be a time. They did not have them: Then though

127

every housewife in Senatobia had doubtless a chest
full of quilts of the gayest. and most astonishing
patterns. how was I to get them? they were locked up
and the keys in the owners pockets. I saw no other
way to do. If one of the other nurses would have helped me
it would have been easier; for me. but if their dignity.
would not allow them to come down from their stilts.
Very well, as a nurse no one could exact it
and perhaps. if Mr. Simmons had said, "you must
go down to Senetobia. you must nurse. cook wash.
and do anything you see wants doing." my bump
of combativeness would have been aroused. and
with true human perverseness. I would have
refused. although when I came over to nurse yellow
fever I knew many a thing has to be done. that
is not on the programme.- I read. that
Queen Victoria, said although she was Queen of Great
BrittainRegularized:Britain and empress of India there was one thing she
had not the power to do. wasis she cannot make
one of her servants take the place of another or do what
is not their particular work. I appreciated her postion.

128

when Sarah refused to do the simplest thing that was not
nursing. and Mr. Roman said it was not his place, or mine either
to disinfect the clothes, and bury the beds. whose place
was it? not the Andersons, they risked their lives enough.-
nor Mr. Dickey's, nor anybody's who had never had the fever.
Clothes and beds. damp with black vomit and death
sweat were too dangerous for unacclimated people
to touch; to preserve our dignity others may have died,
as did the unfortunate king of Spain. because no
Courtier would lose rank by handling a prazi
brasier of coals; do not think for a moment that
I intend to compare my humble little self with the
Queen of the Isles [...] or a grandee of Spain. but a cat may look at a king, may
not I, although a nurse, think about a Queen? but
to come to what is our duty. What is Christs teaching?
He washed his disciples feet to teach us this lesson, he that
will be greatest among you let him be as your servant

"Strip me of the robe of pride
Clothe me with humility"

Is a hymn I have always thought beautiful. now
is a very good time to put it in practice.


129

Louis however helped me this time to burn them, he was a good and
faithful man. he had been put to nurse a colored boy
the day after we came. so I had not seen much of him.
but I shall not forget him soon. I have no doubt he would
have helped me. before. if he had been here;
This morning. Mrs Dickey got up I changed her clothing.
of course. put what she had on in water. until tomorrow.
there is some talk of all the nurses being sent back
tomorrow. but Mrs Dickey is not well enough yet,
unless she had some one to stay with her. I spoke to
Dr. French., he says we must neither one go for a few
days yet, for both of us are too tired to do duty
alone. and Mrs D. is helpless yet, Today I wrote a
letter to Mrs Dickey's sister in Marshall Co. but not
such a lengthy epistle as this one.

your affectionate sister.
K-.



Rice University
Date: 2010-06-07
Available through the Creative Commons Attribution license