Letter from Mrs. E. K. Heckle at Memphis to Kezia Payne DePelchin, March 23, 1879 [Digital Version]

Bibliographic Information

Heckle, E.K., Letter from Mrs. E. K. Heckle at Memphis to Kezia Payne DePelchin, March 23, 1879 (March 23, 1879)

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Title: Letter from Mrs. E. K. Heckle at Memphis to Kezia Payne DePelchin, March 23, 1879 [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: Heckle, E.K.
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_29
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: 4 handwritten page letter, concerning Rev. McWhitten's death and tales of deserting his post, untrue according to Heckle
Source(s): Heckle, E.K., Letter from Mrs. E. K. Heckle at Memphis to Kezia Payne DePelchin, March 23, 1879 (March 23, 1879)
Source Identifier: Kezia Payne DePelchin letters, MS 201, Box 1, letter 29, p. 203-206, 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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Languages used in the text: English
Text classification
Keywords: Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Correspondence
Keywords: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Yellow fever--History--United States
  • Disease outbreaks--History--United States
  • Nursing--History--19th century
Keywords: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
  • Houston (inhabited place)


Mrs. H's letter

Dear Friend

I am always putting you to trouble about
something. Yesterday in looking over the Memphis papers
to find the record of Mr Miller's death, I came across
a Nashville paper (which my very excellent friend Mrs
Childs of Decatur thought too much waste of time to
allow me to read while there). I found a letter in it
written by the Rev. Mr Whitten in answer to some
remarks in regard to his having deserted his post
and as I can repudiate all such calumny against him


I think a letter to his widow stating what I know would
perhaps be a consolation. On the morning of my arrival in Decatur
I was sent to wait on the wife of Dr Gill, a gentleman in
every sense of the word. When I got to the house, one of the doctors
for there were six in attendance, including her husband, Drs Gill
Collins, Sauve, Summers, Young
and I think the other was
Wise, but Wise, or Young, Summer or Winter they certainly
were without any exception the fattest lot of men I had
seen for some time, and when two got on each side of the
bed there was very little room for poor little skeleton me.
But to get back to my subject, one of the Drs told me I was too
late, she was dying. I went in to see her and was not without hope. She
rallied during the day and recognized me as a stranger. Beside her
her husband told her who I was. She thanked me for coming and seem—
quite cheerful and if I could only have made those country
Doctors believe she did not want soup and coffee (all given by
enimaRegularized:enema) perhaps she might.— well, I say no more. During
the day I was introduced to the Rev. Mr Whitten. Pastor of the
Methodist Church of that place, he had just returned from Florence from a visit
to his family, and had that day visited several of the worst
cases of fever in Decatur. The next day Mrs Gill insisted on her
husband visiting some of his patients who Mr Whitten said were
anxious to see him. I think He was the favorite physician of
the place. When he returned she was sinking fast and
did not recognize him. Mr W. was sent for and so far
from showing any fear (although Dr Summers had pronoun—
it yellow fever) he remained in the room while she
lived and then went out to find some one to assist in


laying her out. He returned bringing Sister C, bless
her benevolent heart. I am glad she got well so as to enjoy
her old quilts that she thought too good for a nurse to rest
on.) She was afraid to strain herself by lifting but got the
clothes consisting of a very fancy Polonaise, but could not
find no skirt for it. For which I voted sincere thanks and
for the second time I had my own way in dressing a
corpse in pure white, a night dress, it is true (but
beautifully embroidered as were all her other clothes.)
and with her silver hair neatly parted, and a small
bouquet of her favorite flowers in her hand, she looked
fit for Heaven for she had a lovely face, very much such
a one as your dear old Mother had. How much more
appropriate than gaudy colors. Give me white for the
first, the altar, and the grave. In all this Mr Whitten
assisted me. That night I slept upstairs with no other occup—
than the corpse. The next morning I was sent to Mr
Hauke. I heard in a day or two that Mr Whitten and
Mrs C. were both down with fever. Whilte sitting in the Office
of my amiable little friend Little Jack waiting to be con—
to Mrs C.'s house I heard them engaging a negro man
to nurse at the enormous sum of $.50cts. per night to wait
on Mr Whitten at the parsonage. They told the man to take
some supper to him, anything light, fried potatoes, biscuit
ham, and I suppose a little cold cabbage (I saw some
on the supper table) to get his own supper and then
lie down as there was no necessity for his sitting up—
(Of course not colored gemmenRegularized:gentlemen are easy to wake)
While at Mrs C.'s, Dr Gill came in and said he


had been trying to find a place for Mrs Whitten to board.
She had come to nurse her husband and the benevolent
community could not afford their pastor's wife a place
to eat, not even at Little John's big hotel. She was
staying at Dr Gill's but he had no way to make her comfort—
. His house was large and handsomely furnished. No
family but himself and two little boys without any servant.
He found a place at last, but poor woman, she did not
stay long. The next afternoon he died, a martyr to
his fidelity, and love to his people. I will enclose a letter
from him published in Nashville showing how he was
abused, and I have thought a letter addressed to his wid—
showing that he did not shirk his duty would
be a pleasure to her to be able to refute the calumny.
Coming as it does from a stranger, I know it would to
me. If you think so will you write when at leisure
what you think proper. He was of your persuasion and
you will know best what to say. I send you some
papers mentioning two or three name Miller. Look them
over and return, to yours truly,

E. C. Heckle

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