Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Memphis to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 9, 1878 [Digital Version]

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DePelchin, Kezia P. (Payne), 1828-1893, Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Memphis to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 9, 1878 (October 9, 1878)

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Title: Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Memphis to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 9, 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: 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_10
Availability: This digital text is publicly available via the Americas Digital Archive through the following Creative Commons attribution license: “You are free: to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work; to make derivative works; to make commercial use of the work. Under the following conditions: By Attribution. You must give the original author credit. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder. Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.”
Digitization: Page images of the original document are included. Images exist as archived TIFF files, JPEG versions for general use, and thumbnail GIFs.
Provenance: This collection was given as a permanent loan from Charles McBrayer of the DePelchin Faith Home in 1973.
Description: 9 handwritten pages, writes of her illness and recovery
Source(s): DePelchin, Kezia P. (Payne), 1828-1893, Letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin at Memphis to her sister, Sallie Payne, October 9, 1878 (October 9, 1878)
Source Identifier: Kezia Payne DePelchin letters, MS 201, Box 1, letter 10, p. 86-94, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
Description of the project: This digitized text is part of the Our Americas Archive Partnership (OAAP) project.
Editorial practices
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 River Valley--History--19th century
  • Yellow fever--History--United States
  • Disease outbreaks--History--United States
Keywords: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
  • Memphis (inhabited place)



My dear Sister,

I slept pretty well last night, but do not
feel much better for it; I will write you a few lines.-
I received a letter from New York a fortnight ago,
the writer mentioned having sent me some Houston
papers. I went to the Office for them, The Post Office
is only open two or three hours a day; and no letter
carriers are out yet, all that sort of thing is stopped
by the fever, as I said I went to the Office for my papers.-
The young man in the Office was just up from the
fever, "please excuse me Madam I can scarcely stand"
I will save them for you" Of course I told him, I
would wait. for them; and I must say the surround-
the Post-Office are not very cheering. an
undertakers is close by. the Coffins are set out on
the sidewalk. piled up as high as the door. I think
as I pass through an avenue of them. pephaps one of
these may be for me; and I must say I feel sad. then
comes the thought. My Heavenly Father who put
it into my heart to come. here. will care for me.
in this world and when my work is done.
take me home; It is customary to send the


nurses when sick, to one of the Infirmaries; but as
I have a room I have not been notified to leave.-
I will write a few lines on this letter as I feel able.-
9 th Wednesday: Afternoon, 5 o'clock I have given up, sick, at four
o'clock. a written request from the Howard Office. for me to
go on duty. I had been asleep, I got up went down stairs
as I was told, a gentleman with a carriage was waiting.
to take me out. by the time I got down I found how bad-
I felt, it was raining a little, I told him I was not
able to go, he said he would tell the Superintendent of nurses
so that I should not be sent for again that evening; I waited
a little longer then told the gentleman who kept the
Hotel, Mr. Cruger, I was sick. it was no use to disguise
it any longer and if I must go to an Infirmary.
say so, and send word to the Howards. He replied
I certainly did not have the fever. he wrote a note to
the Howard Office. that I was sick from fatigue, had
taken cold, would like a nurse. told me to keep my
room. how thankful I was I had a room. On a lodging
ticket I do not think I could have staid. I wencame
up stairs, am now going to bed; to be nursed myself.-
11th Friday, evening,, you see I am able to write again.
I had gone to bed; felt too sick to know if I felt very


lonesome or not, Soon Mr. Murray came with a nurse.-
I am fortunate in being on his district, although
most of the Howards are citizens of Memphis. So
many are sick, that some who come from other
places. now wear the badge; Laura Nelson a colored
girl is my nurse. The visitor asked me if I wished
for a Doctor, gave it as his opinion I did not have
the fever, he then told me to send to the Office if I needed
anything, told Mr. Cruger to let me have anything if I wanted
I now found the benefit of having joinged the Howards
I did not intend when I came, to be enrolled with any associa-
, but the Drs. l in Houston. advised me to. as I was a stran-
, if I worked for them. I could then claim their protect-
or aid if I was sick. I had gone wherever they had
sent me and now I was sick I felt free to send to them
for help. Wednesday I took a bath hot with mustard. Thursday.
I felt very sick. I wanted some sage and lemons. I gave
Laura the money to but me some as I had no Doctor.
to give the order. She go came back in high dudgeon.
She could not buy any. and could not get any with
out an order. I wrote an order or rather a request, she said
at first the clerk hesitated. but Mr. Bowen O.K.ed it so I got my
sage and lemons. It was to avoid all that red tape, that


I sent the money.- but money, the open sesame. to
almost every lock. failed here.- queer things we see
in Memphis. The visitor came again. I tried to think
of all I wanted as I did not want to be in such a
predicament as this morning, towords evening. who should
come to the hotel but Mrs Heckle of Houston. I could
scarcely wait until she came up stairs; She had just
come in from Bartlett. and was to go somewhere else the
next day; She gave me some more medicine told me
not to get up too soon; She had nursed Mrs L Schuyler at
an Infirmary: She told me of two little children who recovered.
the rest of the family died. The Father lay dead. they were
so much better it was useless to try to conceal it from them.
Taking the little girl in her arms. she told them to prepare
their minds to hear the worst. they knew one brother was
dead but to hear that oldest sister, Mother, Father, were
gone it was so hard. the little boy exclaimed. "don't tell
me that my mother's dead. God wouldn't be so mean
as to take her." but on being talked to kindly, became
more reconciled. She allowed them to go down and see
their Father. the scene was enough to melt a heart of stone.
then they became quiet and said they must love each
other better.- poor little orphans we intend to go and


see them and Arthur if we can. before we leave Memphis.
Mrs Heckle staid with me Thursday night: TriThis morning
she left and wrote me a note from the depot that she
was going to Decatur Ala: Mr. Murray came today and
brought the very best medicine, a letter from Houston.
(letters to nurses come to the Howards.) it was better
than calomel or castor oil, perphaps that is a doubtful
compliment, but take it, as Swedenborg. takes the book of Genesis.
not for what it says, but for what it means!
I must tell you something about my nurse. and her mode
of treatment; when she came from the Howard Office
on Thursday. she prepared a liniment of hot mustard and
vinegar. and commenced rubbing me vigorously.-
She was so sudden, so energetic, I was startled, and
wanted to know what she meant. She said, down at the
Office. they told me I must take care of you; and not
let you die, so you're some account, and I want to
get up my reputation on you;
I told her I did
not have the fever, was not dangerouly ill;
12th Saturday. I was up today: and went to see Arthur.
how disappointed I am, the lady got tired of keeping him, and
took him out the Leath orphan asylum. there are so


many children sick there; I cannot however reproach my-
, because I have had no time to see after him. and I said
I would pay his board if necessary. no one came to me
so I did not know; I will write to his grandmother
as soon as letters will go through; I rode on the
street cars. to take the fresh air, as I was disappointed in seeing
Arthur, I rode on to inquire if Charlie Morrow recovered. he.
is convalescing. does not yet know of his loss. Everitt is getting well.
I expect they will cling to each other through life. more than
brothers usually do; returning, the cars. took me up to where my
first patients were; they are both well. The youngest one threw
her arms around me and cried bitterly: "I did not mean you
to find me here again" she said both renewed their promises to
try and reform; They tell me there is a home for reformed women
they will go there, or try to go home. one has a father
who will take her the other an aunt; I will draw money
as nurse. and pay their way if they will go.-
Poor creatures. now they are in the meshes of sin it
is hard to do better. Society ever ready to help a man
to reform. back into the right way. scorns a wom-
efforts to do better: I told them to send me word.


if I can help them. for I am alone here and then I may be
sent away; to some other town. I left them at the door, one
of them asked me if I would come again. I said you must
leave this house and show me you mean to reform. I am
not quite satisfied with appearances. She replied "I know
it is not pleasant for you to come." they both thanked
me warmly for waiting on them: which showed that
there was much that was good yet left, with a very sad heart
I descended the stairs of the house of my first patients.
two of the nurses who had assisted me here had died. Dr.
Burroughs. too is dead. they are left. surely the gardener has
begged for another year of trial for, them: I then rode out on
the street cars as far as they would go. to see more of the
place: Houses are being opened and aired. and some persons
have returned too soon. One family of six named Kerr.
all died; if they left at all they should have remained absent. In On
the cars. two young ladies were talking, one pointed to the
other.out a house to the other, "See those two little
boys looking out of the window. they are the only ones
left of a large family." and so it is of many.- Little
Sallie Blen is the only one left of parents and five


children. She is seven years of age. Mr. Blew was assistant editor of
the Western Advocate. I remember. reading some of his stories
to children. his signature Uncle Bobert was always looked
for by me in Texas.- I did not meet with any of the family.-
Some families died out entirely. for instance the
Flack family. Mother and six children, all were gathered
in by the great Reaper.- but this is better than one being
left.- In one of my letters I mentioned Mattie Stephanson.
When the epidemic raged in 1873. She, a girl of eighteen
came over from Illinois, she nursed until taken down
would take no money, she died, she was buried in
Elmwood. and a beautiful monument is erected to
her memory.- In form a pedestal, an angel stands
on the pedestal. one hand pointing upward. the
other to a scroll at his feet. on the scroll is written
Mattie Stephanson. the martyr of 1873. "She died for
us" from the back of the monument as if a
vine was growing a lily bent down close to the
angel. no doubt to represent Mattie, the pure and
broken lily:- I am now tired. tomorrow I want
to go to church.- the Superintendent sent me word
not to go on duty until Monday. - then to be
ready to go out of town if necessary.-


Sunday. 13. I dressed myself today. for a rarity, not in my wrapper.
I felt somewhat like white folks. as in a clean linen dress
I went to church. the only Protestant church. open.- Rev
Dr. Dabyell was the minister. I was early. he came and
spoke to me. he had been to see me on Saturday but
I was out. but I am grateful to him. for thinking
of me, in the midst of all this whirlwind of trouble:
The congregation was small. the remnant of children
from the Church Home. and two Episcopal nuns. were there
the people bow and cross themselves; the Holy Commu-
was administered and a wafer used, altogether
if I had not known positively that Mr. Dabyell is
a Protestant, I should think I had gotten into a
Roman Catholic Church.- the service was conducted
without singing: silence is the rule of these awful times.
Mr. Dabyell was evidently sick. I almost forgot my
sense of propriety enough to go up to the pulpit
and ask him, what was the matter. a gentleman
went up. took him some water.- As I returned
he recoverd and preached. As I returned, I called
at the Martket Street Infirmary to inquire about Mr. Miller.
he died Oct. 4th. was buried in Elmwood.- how many
noble martyrs this year

—— your loving sister

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