Oct 27 1878
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
I found was quite the other side of town. Mr. Dickey
was at the gate waiting; I
. M. not to come in.
. 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
the last family. now there were five. left in the
scattered up and down. one of these was Mr
he and his wife had both had the fever.
and they were very kind to
I went into the house. met Mrs Dickey, and her
daughter Mattie, a ayoung girl of 17 years.-
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
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.-
French, the only physician
who remained was attending
him. but by eight o'clock P.M. soon after I
installed as nurse; Dr
. Carswell came from
he staid a very short time: sent up directions.
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
as checking them so often produced black vomit. I waited
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
bed; Meantime Mattie was taken down. On Tuesday morn
she was evidently taking the fever. I
her to take some medicine and lie down. she would
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.
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
staid with Mattie
when I had to wait on Dabney; - but about ten when
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
. Roman. and try to spring. so I just
about daylight. it was evident he was going. fast.
Father had been by him much of the night, but both
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
why they called this fever Bronze John. whi
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
out, I insisted on the unacclimated ones staying
coffin was brought and put down at the
called on me to help him put him
"I can't" I said. "I can't". then he said I must call
his father. you will not let anyone. come
that is unacclimated. For me the trial was great, but for
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.
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
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
town: tents were provided for those who had no other : 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 of some; but these were parents. ties of
love held them. and
besides them re were
other brave hearts who
bravfaced the common
enemy.- and if needs be
lay down their lives
Lives that were dear to them, and no doubt to
too I write those names. only wishing I could inscribe
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
J A Moss President.
||Dr. W.A. French
|Sam F Massey acting Pres.
J M Saunders Sec &; Treas.
P M B Wait acting Mayor
E P Russell
C L Mc Clendon
E Re Stratton.
|W E Bostwick.
H C Saunders.
|L P Smith.
||T J Prophet.
Aleck Tate .
These gentlemen mostly single men. had
formed a club; called themselves.
after Butler P Anderson. who served the town
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.
. Roman.) to go to Hernando. How they needed it
On Sunday. Oct 6 it was pronounced yellow fever.
Saunders her daughter. and Mrs
Dean all had it, Julia
had died: The panic on Sunday three o'clock P M must at
been lively. wagons were going all
night into the day on
Monday as I told you, I think there were two other
in the place. Dr
. French alone remained; On
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
. McLendon attended to the funerals. -Obed-
O'Neal assisted him. M Saunders was
commissary. T. J Prophet. went round
that is he would go as near to a farm house as he
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
The President and Mayor kept order.- Dabney and
got their demit from this world
and entered the Lodge above.- Of the
colored members. Alec Tate. Ford McKee. were visitors,
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
Now how could we all live? The prisoners were removed
town. the jail was a large building a room
in that was filled up for a
dining room. and in
Court House. in the
adjoining lot. two rooms were
set apart for lodging rooms for Nurses; Just
of it taken charge of by the Sheriff. eating in the
sleeping in the Court-house a nice state of
affairs. to write home. to
Houston or to you.-
a crime to be a
Nurse? no. but the houses were
all closed. and Andersons, Doctor and all.
in the jail. I ate at Mr
. Dickey's as long
I could. I disliked to leave the house. - but I have.
anything: about Mr
. Massie. to his
energy. I can
scarcely do justice; he planned and
carried out the measures. aforesaid.
visitor. patrol. and I don't know what more.- he
in mind of the boy who tried to count
the chickens. but could
not count the speckled
rooster. because he was here, and there, and
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
She immediately wanted to turn his bedstand round. to
die easy. I told her please attend to Mattie.-
You will remember. I told
. Simmons. told
me not to work too hard. don't
let us hear of you
washing and cooking he
. 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
save Mattie being annoyed by seeing it taken
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
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
Court-house to sleep. two
or three hours. I looked
round, and seeing a plate with mustard, a cup and
used for medicine. I said to Sarah I see I have left them,
Dickey waits on her daughter. you can wash
"I don't think I shall" she replied "Mr
Simmons told us not
to wash." I said you can leave them then till I
I have not asked you to do any more than I have done
. She said "you was nurse here, it was your place to clean
as I did not want to leave Mrs
Dickey alone, I did not
reply. but Mrs
Dickey not hearing the conversation.
to set by Mattie. and said "Sarah the meat is in the pan
potatoes are washed, please put them on the stove.
. 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
nothing but a
nurse herself; to tell me to wash up.
I heard enough but said nothing
then. I went down
. Massey. told him I had been
Sarah but I took no further charge. of her.
resented no personal affront; I
sent me some dinner to my room in the court house.
told him to send some one to w
call me at
it was then three: which he did and a nice
cup of coffee. As there
was no other. woman to be
had and Mrs
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.
I sponged her. but meantime where was Mr
out into the field and with his head down. crying his
heart out for his boy. Mrs
D. was 60 years. of course
was his hope; he came in. he and his wife got supper.-
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.
s. told us to sponge Mattie,
constantly. I worked
on her as if for my very life. Sarah was put to
wait on Mrs
. D. soon got up
and helped me.
for if I asked Sarah to do anything. for me. soshe
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
anything for me. about half a dozen. when
my name was called to come here
asked me to please
let them come with me. but
I had no choice in the
matter. towards morning I got some coffee and
I offered her some. She looked at it "I can't eat the
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
. 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
to make. Mrs
Dickey. take some rice. but she
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.
delirious. her temperature was 105 1/2 She had lucid
. 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
her breath on my face was like the blast of a furnace.
The fever was spreading.
other nurses were sent down.
one was sent here on Thursday night. and
sent to rest at the Court House.- Mattie, was going.-
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
By midnight Thursday night a cold watery sweat.
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,
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
. Dickey said "this is my birthday," and
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
little indeed did Mattie think as she plied her
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
go forth to Church. before
another Sabbath. they would
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 , the bed and clothing where Dabney had died;
he had a mixture he
sprinkled it with; I had a with Drs. on the best manner of
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
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.
several days. they then aver they can take them
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
there are many things that cannot be
burned or buried either; I asked
about the the clothing. one or both Doctors said they
must be passed through the
water; I had felt sure
of this before. I mention this to show you what now
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
Jewish precaution of running the needle. down the nail
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 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 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.
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.
with a stick. into cold
water again. then wrung
a little water out got them on the fence. to
This was hard work. but it had to be done. Mr
said he did not have time to help me. and it was not
place, or mine either: every rag that had been used.
I scraped up and
burned.- that helped to make my pot
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.
. Dickey dug the hole. but the garden
ploughed. it was not soabout three feet
then he went in the house. I got
a wheel barrow. put
the beds on it one at a time: wheeled them to
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
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
beds. I did it, not very smoothly.- and when I was
through. I trembled in
every joint in a way. that showed
me. I shall never make a fortune. hoeing
cotton: all this took me until Saturday: evening
but then I had
four quilts dry. also one large,
shawl. that had been ofon
Dabney's bed. for a blanket.-
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;
went in and
laid down on a mattress while Mr
On Friday night. he and I took turns watching
Dickey; he slept until the small hours of
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
cold night air purify. the room: soon after tweleve
. Dickey told me to get him some more cover. he
was cold. I piled on all I could get. without taking
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
for I feared the worst. gave my quilts another airing by
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
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.
mustard emetic. and when Alec Tate came to see if we wanted
anything; sent for the Doctor. Drs
. French and
both came. said I had done right. and Dr
remarked. "there was a frost last night." I shuddered.
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
. had nursed at the Market Street Infirmary.-
I thought a
man would havebeen
better. for Mr
but it is better as it was.- She was intelligent and
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
. for besides attending to the sick. we feed the
chickens and the
pigs. we made own
our own tea or
one went to the jail to eat and took
a basket and brought something for
. York Jenkins. and his assistant
keep the table spread for breakfast
from seven till
ten for breakfast; Eleven to two, for dinner.
At night. we took the mattress left.then
. Massey had
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
. 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
him with a light quilt was enough.- The Doctors
pleased with him. but still his fever did
not break. I remarked to Miss
Hamilton on Tuesday,
If he is better why don't
this fever break? By Wednesday.
his head did not ache. but his temperature
lower. 99 I had seen that fatal symptom too often
deceived, he woke from a sleep slightly delirious.
I sent for the Doctors.
By Thursday. he was evidently dying.
. French spoke of
the awfull smell. every thing about
the room was clean. it was from the
He constantly tried to get up.- it took us both
to him. on Thursday night Mr
. Roman came
an hour or
two. but our task was more trying.
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
forgotten. Friday Mr
. Dickey kept muttering
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
always come to the gate to askask
if aught was
needed; by 11 at night.
. Dickey spoke plainer; he called
his wife by
her christian name; but did not seem to know
anyone. I was setting up
the first part of the night
with Louis. Left Mr
and Miss H.
because he had been
so used to have us about him. I
was afraid he would feel the change; Mrs
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
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 up
awhile longer; Clay Saunders
who had staid with Dabney. was watching through
the window. the last
hours of an old friend;
. Roman and Miss Hamilton
now took charge.-
By six in the morning he died; Mr
Louis laid him out; soon Dr
. McCully sent a
to hold a postmortem examination: The result is in
. French's report. Poor Mrs
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
. 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
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
garden. made a fire of dry leaves. Louis helped me.
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
I 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
in Memphis or not. for even there as I told you. there
a time. They did not have them: Then though
every housewife in
Senatobia had doubtless a chest
full of quilts of the gayest. and most
patterns. how was I to get them? they were locked up
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
and perhaps. if Mr
. Simmons had said, "you
go down to Senetobia. you must nurse. cook wash.
anything you see wants doing." my bump
of combativeness would have been
with true human perverseness. I would have
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
said although she was Queen of Great
and empress of India there was one thing she
had not the power
to do. wasis
one of her servants take the place of another or do what
is not their particular work. I appreciated her postion.
when Sarah refused to do
the simplest thing that was not
nursing. and Mr
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
. Dickey's, nor anybody's who had
never had the fever.
Clothes and beds. damp with black vomit and
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
I intend to compare my humble little self with the
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
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.
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
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
. 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
letter to Mrs
Dickey's sister in Marshall Co.
such a lengthy epistle as this one.
your affectionate sister.