THE YELLOW FEVER EPIDEMIC OF 1867
DAILY RANCHERO, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS
The following are excerpts from the Daily Ranchero published in Brownsville, Texas. There was some communication between the two towns during the epidemic in the form of letters and mortality reports. Ranchero editor, Henry Alonzo Maltby, had lived in Corpus Christi serving as mayor until he resigned that post and left in 1857. He was the brother of William Maltby, who remained in Corpus Christi and was the editor of the Corpus Christi Advertiser. These accounts offer a contemporaneous glimpse into the situation existing in the city, the fear felt in neighboring towns, the attempt to discern the origins of the disease and the efforts made at prevention of an outbreak. Local accounts of this epidemic, one of the most catastrophic in the city’s history are almost non existent as those who might otherwise have chronicled the event were either sick, dying, attempting to cope with illness in their own family or the loss of loved ones. It is estimated that 300 people died out of a population of 1,000. The loss of professionals in the city, it’s elected officials, physicians, druggists, clergy, teachers and others caused many problems. Death had claimed so many that by 1868 the city’s officials had to be appointed by the military commander of the district at the time.
YELLOW FEVER AT CORPUS CHRISTI
Mr. Ohler, proprietor of the Ohler House, received a letter from his son in Corpus C Christi this morning stating that the yellow fever is prevailing at that place, and nearly one half of the citizens are sick—but one doctor in town and medicines scarce. As the sickness is rapidly abating in Indianola, we trust that one of our physicians will go to their relief, also experienced nurses. Corpus Christi has generally escaped this terrible scourge, and as a consequence the people are inexperienced in the treatment of yellow fever.
The weather has taken a change for the better and the atmosphere is much clearer and cooler than it has been for the past month. We trust that it may so continue until the virulence of the epidemic is past. We have truly been sadly afflicted and the loss of some of our dearest and best citizens has cast a gloom over our city that will not soon be forgotten.
-- Indianola Bulletin, Aug. 3
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 9, 1867, p. 1, col 6
The fever at Indianola still continues about the same but is probably exhausting itself for want of material. The Bulletin reports up to Aug. 1st seventy-three deaths, which, if correct, shows the fever to have been unusually mild. Among the deaths reported is that of the editor of the Indianola Times, Col. Saml. A Benton.
From Corpus Christi we have a meager report. So far as we know but six deaths have occurred from the fever. Among them we regret to announce that of Rev. Mr. Mitchell, a man between sixty and seventy years old. The fever is epidemic there, beyond which we know little about the matter. The Corpus Christi Advertiser, from some cause, did not reach us. *
*Editor of the Advertiser, William H. Maltby, was ill with yellow fever as was his wife, Mary Grace, and sister in law, Jobena Marcella, they died 10 and 7th respectively. Maltby recovered.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 10, 1867, p. 2, col. 2
We have news fro Corpus Christi three days later than by mail. We learn no particulars about the epidemic beyond the fact that twenty deaths had occurred, and that the epidemic had become general. No names were furnished by our informant, Mr. Ramirez, of those who had died.
Why not put a stop to commerce and travel from infected ports, and save the people of these cities—Brownsville and Matamoros? Right here rests a fearful responsibility. On a legitimate order that no vessel from a yellow-fever infected city or town will be permitted to land at Brazos Santiago, may, and probably does, depend a thousand lives. Nothing short of positive non-intercourse can save us. Any other sort of quarantining would be but little better than a farce. To hesitate is to be dammed.
To all who do not wish and do not intend to breast the yellow fever foe, we say get ready to leave and leave. If the port of Brazos shall remain open another week or two, yellow fever will be reported in these streets. Of this no sane man of experience can entertain a doubt. That it can be quarantined away admits of no question—the only question is, shall it be done?
Suppose yellow fever should break out on the next steamer at the Brazos, whilst lying at quarantine: what can be done? Can the ship be ordered back to Galveston? Could the steamer be kept quarantined a month and until all the passengers had died or removed from the disease? Or would the sick and well be put ashore, and into hospital? So certain as one case of yellow fever occurs at the Brazos it will break out here in less than a week. If one case of yellow fever appears on a steamer at quarantine there will no longer be hope—Of Brownsville and Matamoros escaping a fearful epidemic.
It would be a credit mark to Brownsville to escape the fever even one year when it was raging everywhere else. And General Reynolds would be entitled to no small share of this community’s thanks if he would exercise his undoubted, rightful power to prevent its introduction. Shall we or shall we not have an epidemic this year? It is for the Military to answer.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 11, 1867
HISTORY OF YELLOW FEVER
The nativity of yellow fever, like almost everything connected with that fearful disease, seems to be involved in doubt. It seems to be certain that it was found in the West Indies by Columbus, on his second voyage, and attacked the Spaniards who accompanied him. Dr. Noah Webster says that in 1618, some off the New England tribes of Indians were almost destroyed by this malady—three hundred only remaining of a tribe that had numbered thirty thousand! The whites found their skeletons strewed over the ground in and about their towns. The survivors described the leading features of the disease so as to leave no doubt of its true character.
In 1635, Father Du Terre and others described the yellow fever of Guadalupe , as did the English who suffered from it at Carthagena in 1641, and in Barbadoes in 1647. But black vomit, as a symptom of this disease, appears to have escaped the attention of observers, or was absent, until described by Father Du Terte and others, near the middle of that century. Spain was formerly the principal country afflicted with yellow fever. Accounts of its ravages at Cadiz go as far back as 1705, and there were thirteen epidemics there between that year and 1821. It also visited Gibraltar from 1804 to 1814. It visited Seville several times early in the present century. It has also occurred in Malaga, Medina, Sidonia, and numerous other Spanish towns. It has prevailed as an epidemic about fifty times in Europe. It first appeared in New Orleans in 1796. Before it appeared in New Orleans it had prevailed in Cadiz six times, in Philadelphia eight times, Norfolk three times, Charleston ten times, Baltimore twice, New York seven times, New Haven twice, eleven times at Barbadoes, four at San Domingo, five at Jamaica, and three at Havana. It prevailed in Philadelphia in 1700-‘32-‘41-’43-’44-’47-’62-‘ 93-’94-’96-’97-’98-’99-, 1801’2-‘3-‘5-’17-’20-; Boston, 1693, 1695, ’96-’08-’99-; New York, 1702, ’43-’48-’62-’91-’93-’98-’99, 1800, ’01-‘2-‘5-’19-‘e2, New Haven, 1742-’94, 1805; Baltimore, 1894-‘5-‘7-, 1800, ’18-’21; Providence, 1794-’97, 1800-‘5.
Epidemic yellow fever has traversed in Europe nearly 46 degrees north latitude, as in Rochefort, (45- 40) in the year 1664; and in America nearly 47 degrees, (46-50) in Quebec in 1805.
Several instances, within the last few years, show that it is readily communicated to persons at the North by contact with those who have carried it from the West Indies; and we should feel almost as apprehensive that it would break out at Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York Boston, as in Galveston, were it not for the happy exemption of the former cities for the last half century.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 11, 1867, p. 1, col. 4
THE FEVER AT CORPUS
Several persons arrived here from Corpus Christi on Sunday evening. They report the fever bad enough, but could not tell us much that was definite about the matter. They say, however, that five deaths occurred there in one day. The editor of the Corpus Christi Advertiser, “Brother Bill,” had recovered from an attack; but there was some question about his having had an attack of the yellow fever. We hope it was yellow fever, and that he has been reconstructed on a sound footing.
The gentlemen who came in are, Messrs. Wm. and John McMahan, and Maj. Hogan, formerly of the 114th U. S. Volunteers. They were up before the city council, on the question of health, but it was decided, that a trip of one hundred and seventy miles across the Texas prairies on horseback was a sufficient disinfectant against yellow fever, without resort to more purifying measures.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 13, 1867, p. 2, col. 2
THE FEVER AT CORPUS
We have still later news from Corpus Christi regarding the work of yellow fever at that place. The fever is bad enough, and we are told that seven or eight deaths have occurred there in a days. Mr. Frank Stillman, a young man of ability and great promise, relapsed and died. The fever appeared to be no respect of persons, but had made a pretty general attack. At first it was mild but grew more and more virulent with each succeeding day.
Corpus Christi proclaimed and maintained non-intercourse through three epidemics on the coast, but neglecting to do so this year, is paying the fearful penalty. The price of life, as well as liberty, is eternal vigilance.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 14, 1867
The fearful epidemic prevailing at Corpus Christi proves conclusively that that place is just as subject to yellow fever as any other place on the coast. All that is needed in any Gulf town, no matter how healthy the place, is the introduction of the disease to bring on an epidemic. This is demonstrated in the case of Corpus Christi. That place had declared non-intercourse with ports infected with yellow fever during three epidemics on the coast, and each time escaped a single case of the disease. Twice Corpus Christi neglected to prevent the introduction of the fever, and dearly has her people already paid for the neglect.
Corpus Christi is naturally the healthiest place on the coast, but her reputation and prestige has gone through neglect to enforce non-intercourse with infected parts. We consider the experience of that healthy city conclusive evidence that non-intercourse with infected ports can prevent the transmission of yellow fever from place to place.
Now let us stop and consider the fact that but once in from five to eight years does the fever visit our coast; and the further fact that non-intercourse for two months, once in five or eight years, would render the Texas Coast towns a paradise of health. By dividing two months into six or seven parts, we have eleven days non-intercourse each year. The solution of which is that , to secure permanent health to the Gulf towns, and entire freedom from yellow fever, penance would have to be done eleven days each year on the average. Eleven days of non-intercourse per year, or two months of non-intercourse with infected ports once in six years, guards us against yellow fever.
We assert as a fact that a case of yellow fever never occurred on the Texas coast that was not traced directly to an infected port. It was introduced in Indianola from Vera Cruz; and from Indianola it was carried to Galveston. The clerk of a Baltimore tobacco house contracted the disease at the former place; was taken off the steamer sick at Galveston and there died. That one case inoculated Galveston. Non-intercourse with Indianola was declared by Gen. Griffin; but the order came forth too late; the disease had been planted.
A Mr. Snyder carried the fever from Indianola to Corpus Christi, where he died on the 2nd of July, and planted the disease now so fearfully raging in that place. We assert as a fact that the fever cannot be transmitted through the atmosphere a single mile, and we shall continue to so assert until evidence to the contrary is furnished. If mail bags can carry it, we say stop the mails; for a letter is not worth a human life. We say stop the mails; nobody will die for news in sixty days. We as newspaper men can stand it. We say stop the mails a year if necessary to save five hundred human lives. Spare our people from the fearful visitation of death upon Corpus Christi.
We repeat as a fact, that yellow fever has never visited any place on the Texas coast that could not be traced to an infected port.
THE FEVER AT CORPUS
We give today the names of those who died from yellow fever up to the 11th inclusive, at Corpus Christi. Mr. Geo. Noessel furnishes us the list, which, we make no doubt, is substantially correct. On the 12th eleven died, making the number of deaths seventy.
The number attacked was less than three hundred, which shows that the mortality has been one to four. Mr. Milas Polk writes on the 13th, that twenty of those then sick, would die in the succeeding thirty-six hours.
Among the deaths are many of the old residents of the place. Mrs. Mary Grace Maltby, wife of Wm. H. Marltby, editor of the Advertiser, and her unmarried sister, Miss Jobena Swift, died of the fever, and Mr. Maltby, who had recovered, took a relapse and was expected to live.
Should Mr. Polk’s statement that twenty of those sick on the 18th would die in the next day or two, the mortality would reach thirty-three per cent of those attacked. In addition, Mr. Polk says, that nearly all of those now being attacked, die. Nurses are scarce and fabulous sums are offered for a night watcher. One physician, Dr. Johnson had died, and Dr. Merriman was not expected to recover. Two physicians from Indianola were in Corpus, doing all they could to save life. Mr. Nossel says that the two Indianola physicians are the only ones in Corpus and that medicines are scarce. He also says that the fever is extending up the Nueces.
Mr. U. Lott writes on the 19th, announcing the death of Mr. Cromer. In conclusion he says: “This is my fourteenth day of the fever, and I am now able to sit up though still confined to my room. We are having dreadful times here, people dying like sheep; scarcely a house in town that has not a piece of crape on the door. All the business house have been closed for ten days, the streets have the appearance of continual Sabbath, the quiet broken only by the passage of a funeral train bearing some poor soul to his last resting place. I tell you gentlemen it is a sad time.”
Never have we felt more deeply sad than, upon being made fully aware of the situation in Corpus Christi. Nearly all the deceased had been for a number of years our intimate associates, and many of them we have helped, and seen, grow up. The fever visitation upon Corpus is certainly appalling to contemplate, and the end is not yet.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 16, 1867, p. 1, col. 1-2
LIST OF DEATH FROM YELLOW FEVER IN CORPUS CHRISTI
Corpus Christi, Aug. 11, 1867
Editors Ranchero:--the Advertiser not making its appearance on account of sickness and death in the editor’s family, I enclose you a list of those who have died in the place since July 1st. Comments from me on the situation are unnecessary. God only know when the epidemic may case. Dr. Merriman is not expected to live. Dr. Kearney and a German Doctor from Indianola are the only ones here. Nurses not to be had for love nor money. Medicine scarce. The sickness is also extending up the Nueces.
Persons who died in Corpus Christi, since July 1.
July 2, Mr. Snyder, from Powderhorn,
25, Mr. Drinkard,
26, Mr. McFales,
27, Mrs. Sohrn,
28, Mr. Perez,
28 Mr. Stern,
Aug. 1, Rev. Wm. Mitchell,
4, Alvin Palmer
5, Child of Mr. Larkin, aged 7 years,
5, Samuel Clymer,
7, Smith, firm of Smith & Jackson
7, Patrick Dunn,
7, Mrs. McClanehan,
7, Daniel Cahill, age 12 years
7, Maximillian soldier,
7, Miss Jane Marsh,
7, Miss Jobena Swift, age 17,
8, Mr. John Scott,
Child of Mr. Hughes,
Mrs. Christopher Dunn,
Mr. Christopher Dunn,
Child of Mr. Hughes,
Child of Mr. Hughes,
Mrs. Christopher Dunn,
Mr. Christopher Dunn,
Mr. James Rankin,
Mr. Frank Stillman,
Mr. Theodore Lawrence,
9, Mr. James Gibbs,
Mr. Benjamin Gibbs,
Mrs. Gregory Headen,
Mr. Frederick Ridder,
10, Maximillan soldier,
Miss Carrie Sims, aged 15 or 16
Mr. Henry Sinclair
John Kelley;, aged 18 months
Mrs. John Kelley
Dr. Floyd Johnson
Mr. Chas. Fields
Mrs. Mary Grace Maltby
George Meuly, aged 4 years
James Cahill, aged 14
11. Mrs. Wiedemiller
Mr. Geo. Robertson
Miss Agnes Rankin
Mr. John Pollan
Mexican at hospital
Miss Louisa Dryer, Aged 16
Miss Lizzie Riggs
Total number of deaths 59
County Judge of Nueces County.
Selected items from same page:
DEATH OF F. J. CROMER
But a few days since we chronicled the death of that sterling you man, Mr. J. G. Cromer, who died of yellow fever at Indianola. It is now our painful duty to report the death of his father, Mr. F. J. Cromer, of the same disease at Corpus Christi. Mr. F. J. Cromer, the father, remained in our city but a short time in business with his son. Together they went to Corpus Christi to carry on the grocery business. Both were highly esteemed and admired for their manly virtues by all who knew them. They were from Dubuque, Iowa, where their family still reside.
THE EPIDEMIC—the number of deaths in Galveston since the appearance of yellow fever, amount to one hundred and fifteen. One the 8th inst. There were fifteen burials; on the 9th, thirteen, and on the 10th twenty four.
Mr. J. F. Stackhouse has recovered. The above deaths are from yellow fever.
It has been with feelings of the deepest sorrow that we have been compelled to announce the death of Mrs. Mary Grace Maltby and her sister, Miss Jobena Swift, by the fatal epidemic at Corpus Christi. No less painful is the intelligence that Mr. Wm. H. Maltby, the gifted editor of the Advertiser, is probably numbered among the dead. His devotion to his family brought on a relapse, from which it was thought he could not recover.
We understand that a petition, numerously signed, when up to Gen. Reynolds yesterday, requesting him to declare non-intercourse with infected ports. We are assured that the General had acted before the petition reached him, but was glad to heave our citizens second his efforts to save life. If the determination has not been made too late, we are safe from the epidemic, raging so furiously all along the coast.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 16, 1867
Mr. William Headen, a merchant in Corpus Christi, wrote a letter on the 5th of August to the Indianola Bulletin, denying the statement made in that paper, that yellow fever existed at Corpus Christi. What could have been Mr. Merchant Headen’s object in writing such a letter, we know not, as the record shows that thirteen deaths from yellow fever had occurred in Corpus Christi up to that time.
Mr. Henry Seeligson, merchant at Indianola, wrote several letters to his brother in Galveston, denying that there was yellow fever in Indianola; which letters found their way into print. These letters tended to lull the apprehension felt in Galveston, and doubtless prevented the authorities form cutting off communication with the infected port. Had those letters told the truth, the Galveston military authorities would not have waited until the fever was introduced before declaring non-intercourse with Indianola.
It is no great stretch of the imagination to suppose that all persons who have died or may die of yellow fever at Galveston, Houston and Corpus Christi were murdered at the hands of the lying letter writers at Indianola. Had Mr. Seeligson who of course had had the yellow fever, stated the truth, Corpus Christi and Galveston would have cut off communication with the infected port, and thereby have saved the lives of one or two thousand people. The military at Galveston declared non-intercourse, but is was done too late, as the fever had been introduced into Galveston when the fact became known that the disease at Indianola was yellow fever—sure enough yellow fever.
Through the Indianola letter writers the Galveston and Corpus Christi publics were thrown off their guard, and continued their intercourse with the infected town. As soon as Gen. Griffin ascertained that yellow fever was at Indianola, he acted promptly and suspended communication with that place. But Gen. Griffin was too late: he had been deceived by bold denials of the existence of fever at Indianola. As a consequence persons went into Galveston from Indianola, and were taken down with the fever, and planted the disease in that Island City.
It is remarkable that Brownsville has thus far escaped the terrible scourge; but had our communication with Indianola been as free as was that of Galveston and Corpus Christi, we should now be in the embrace of a fearful epidemic and death. We warn lying letter writers to be on their guard, for if the laws cannot reach them the people may take the law into their own hands.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 22, 1867, p. 2, col. 1
From an extra of the Advertiser we copy the following record of deaths which is in addition those already published by us. Aug. 11—Mr. Stone, a Mexican, Mrs. Vetter, Mrs. Geo. A. Ludewig. Aug. 12—Dr. E. T. Merriman, A. DeRyee, Mrs. Schultz, J. M. Sims Aug. 13—Mrs. Matthew Headen; Mrs. Gibbbs, Mrs. John Dunn, Mrs. F. Riddir, Joseph Dunn, J. M. Myers, George Adolphe Ludewig, Infant fo Dr. G. f. Johnson, Michael Whelan, Mrs. Michael Whelan Aug. 14—John Gallahnan Rinaldo Allen.
P. S. 7 more deaths as we go to press, at 5 p.m.—Total to date, 83. August 17, 2 p.m. 23 more deaths have occurred since the above date, 22 of fever. Number of interments to date, 106. We cannot furnish a full list of names, 6 new cases yesterday; 1 reported today. We are informed that many old cases do not yield readily to treatment.
To the attention of Mr. Geo. Noessel, we are enabled to give the following names of persons who died after the above date. August Holthause, Wm. Norris, Mrs. Evans and Mrs. Gallahan.
Rev. J. P. Perham, President of the Howard Association, and Mr. Gus Moore were down with the fever.
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 23, 1867, p. 2, col 4
From the extra of the Corpus Christi Advertiser of the 27th instant, we publish the following names of those who have died in that place of Yellow Fever, which have not before been published by us: Aug. 14—child of Wm Ashton, John Whelan Aug. 15—Mr. Vetter, Mrs. Doorlay, Wm Norris, August Holthaus, Nascerio Morales, Dora Cody, Jos. Egan. Aug. 16—Mrs. Garner, Matthew Lewis, Sarah Lewis, F. Attion, John Henry Moore, John Kelley. Aug. 17—Jos. Hagan, of Brooklyn, N. Y., Mr. Howard, Mrs. Helen Evans, Mr. Toomy, Henry Armstrong, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Aug. 18—Beatris Calderon, John Ludewig. Aug. 19—Mrs. Smith, Augustus Moore. Aug. 20—Son of Mrs. Meuly, (2d) Bridget Fernise, Child of Mr. Beauley, Rev’d J. P. Perham, A. Weir. Aug. 21—Antonio Salasar, A German, (unknown) Ralph Gregory. Aug. 23—Frank Clark. Total to date, 109
A private letter informs us that on the 24th Mr. W. W. Worrell, and on the 25th Susan Headen, died. The fever was abating for want of material. The same letter states that there are some fifteen deaths not reported in the above list. Another letter states that the total number of deaths, 25th inst., amounted to one hundred and thirty one, one seventh of the population of that place. Corpus in her sore distress has not been without her shylocks, who have exacted the pound of flesh nearest her heart…
Source: Daily Ranchero, August 30, 1867, p. 2, col. 4
DR. F. E. HUGES ON YELLOW FEVER—HOW IT IS INTRODUCED.
(From the Indianola bulletin, Aug. 22)
Now that we have passed through one of the most direful scourges to which our little city has ever been subjected, it behoves us as a people, to take notes, and if possible , let us arrive at the true cause which originated this dreadful disease. The first question, the, “Is yellow fever suigeneris, and if so, it indigenous to our locality?” I contend, that it is not either, but that it is an exotic and most be imported. As well may you tell me that small pox, measles and scarlet fever can be generated. Thirty years since, and the physician who had openly announced that Itch was propagated and kept alive by an animal, would have been hooted, it was then thought to be filth, but the microscope has developed a distinct living animal. I don’t care if a child is allowed to wallow in a pig-sty and fatten with the pigs, as long as you keep him from coming in contact with a living scabies, he will have no itch; then if cleanliness is neglected the disease will spread rapidly, and without proper cleanliness he never will recover. The medical profession are fast becoming a unit, that Asiatic cholera is propagated by means of a living thing, whether that be animal, or vegetable life, they are as yet undecided. All of our most recent writers have classed yellow fever with cholera as a fatal disease, and communicable from one person to another through the excretions of the infected party the marked difference in the two, being that the yellow fever prision is strictly a tropical plant or animal, and cannot , if exposed to a temperature of 22 degrees, survive. You may, however, for weeks keep them alive, thought the thermometer may go to zero, if carefully enclosed in woolen blankets, yet they have a certain time to die, and if not allowed to reproduce in the human body, they become extinct. They will not survive a period of four months, and if once dead, I would as soon expect, should the entire cane crop of the United States be destroyed y a freeze, to reproduce it by artificial means. No, sir, we must first go where the cane crop is a perennial to get the see; and if you like upon the vessel, you may import a new crop of yellow fever.
I now propose to trace the origin of yellow fever, since and during residence at this place and Old Indianola—During the winter of ’49 and ’50, I located at Old Indianola, three miles above. We had no yellow fever until the later part of ’52. On the morning of the 20th I was sent for to visit a Mr. Jackson then at Sloan’s Hotel, who had, the day previous arrived per steamer from New Orleans. I found him with all the characteristics symptoms of a well marked case of yellow fever. Mark you, there was not another case of sickness in the town. It was “distressingly” healthy. In a few days Mr. Jackson recovered, and I was congratulating, the inmates of the Hotel, under the belief that this case would be the last; but we were doomed to disappointment. In less than twelve days nine of the ten members of Mr. Sloan’s family were down. A German girl who worked in the hose left sick. From her it spread among the German families, and from the family of Mr. Sloan, it was easily traceable. In 1853 I had removed to Powder Horn Wharf. During the latter part of July, the vessels plying direct to New Orleans, where the fever was then raging, landed their entire cargoes at the T head. The first case that occurred was one of the wharf hands. There were but few houses within a mile of the wharf, and they three and four hundred yards apart; all other houses having been destroyed a month previous by fire, and every citizen, who had not before had the disease, was a victim, with one single exception. So far the unacclimated citizens of Indianola (by unacclimated I mean those who have not had yellow fever) kept aloof; but gaining confidence by its seeming disappearance, they came down and soon the disease raged with fury what is now called Old Indianola. As for a local cause, there were only four houses, and they distant fro each other. The clean shell beach was covered with a dense, woody growth, with the exception of the shell road, the sites of the four houses and the burnt district, yet covered with ashes.
The next epidemic was in 1858. Of this I know nothing personally; but J. M. Reuss, who has had perhaps, more experience with this disease than any other physician on our coast, west of Galveston, furnishes me with the following statement.
“During the month of September, 1858, I took the first case of yellow fever that occurred, on this bay to the City Hospital from one of the steamers plying to New Orleans. In the afternoon of the same day, I took my children out riding in the same buggy. Four days after, both of my children were simultaneously attacked with yellow fever. Twenty days after this the disease became general.”
In 1862 we had it again. This time the disease ran the blockade on board the steamers California and Gen. Rusk. The first case was one of the crew of the Rusk whom I called on to see with Dr. Davis, of Victoria. From him it spread.
Now we come to consider how the present epidemic of 1857 made its advent. —On the 11th of May, the schooner Margarita, an American vessel, with some twenty passengers set sail for this port. She came to anchor in our harbor on the 21st of the same month. She was boarded by Mr. C. R. Prouty, Deputy Collector and thoroughly examined. Nineteen days after Mr. Prouty was attacked wit yellow fever. On board this schooner, was one Mr. Dechort, wife and three children, besides other stock and plunder. This Mr. Dechort had a lot of second-hand blankets which he wished to dispose of at auction. A drayman by the name of Hunter was engaged to haul them, and a lad by the name of Cook assisted in loading them. These two were the first save one other a carpenter recently from the North, who fell victims to the disease. —Another, and among the first cases was Mr. DeMurguiendo, who arrived direct from Baltimore, and was put in the same room that Mr. Dechort and family had occupied. In six days eh had the disease. The second-hand blankets were exposed and sold at auction, and soon the disease became general, striking down our citizens by twenties and fifties.
The facts herein stated, I hold myself ready to prove.
F. E. Hughes, M. D.
I, Wm. Andrews do hereby certify that I, in company with Thomas duke, did on or about the 25th day of May examine a certain lot of blankets, offered for sale at Messrs. Murdock & Milby’s auction room, Indianola. Said blankets were left with Merssr. Murdock & Milby by a person who came from Vera Cruz on or about the 20th day of May, on the schooner Margarita. Three days subsequent I left Indianola for my home on Hynes Bay and in the evening of the same day I was attacked with yellow fever. My companion Mr. Duke, was attacked on the 4th day with the same disease and died a few days afterward. A Negro woman who attended upon Mr. Duke was attacked on the 14th day and died four or five days afterwards.
Witnesses: Wm. Andrews, G. Seelingson, F. Hunt.
Source: Daily Ranchero, September 1, 1867
FLOOD AND FEVER
We learn that the fever had abated at Corpus Christi for want of material. The number of deaths will reach about 150—one-sixth of the people who remained and went through or died during the epidemic.
The country this side of Corpus Christi is completely under water. The Auga Dulce country has been completely submerged, and in addition to destroying large flocks of sheep, numbering thousands, drove the people from their houses and destroyed everything left behind, A number of Corpus Christi families were camping on the Agua Dulce, who lost all they had with them.
Source: Daily Ranchero, September 13, 1867, p. 2, col. 3
The yellow fever scourge is over at Corpus Christi and Indianola, but to every other place on the coast it is raging furiously. At every little town within fifty or one hundred miles of the coast the disease has found its way. At Galveston the fever has raged with a fury previously unknown. The number of deaths in Galveston up to the 30th ult., from the fever, was six hundred and seventy-seven. A Galveston telegram to the New Orleans press says the fever is unabating; from which we have to conclude that the number of deaths up to the 4th reached one thousand. This mortality is appalling to contemplate.
In new Orleans the fever has been kept down to thirty per day but there is no doubt that it will soon run up to from one to two hundred per day. We heard a physician express the opinion yesterday that by the 1st of October the mortuary reports in New Orleans would show two hundred deaths per day.
The cities of Brownsville and Matamoros continue perfectly healthy but
we can hardly hope to escape.
Source: Daily Ranchero, September 15, 1867, p, 2, col. 3
SOME GENTLEMEN WRITING to the Picayune from Corpus Christi, on whose medical judgment the editor speaks in the highest terms, denies that the disease, recently so prevalent and fatal at Corpus Christi was yellow fever. The writer says it was bilious fever. Yes, it must have billious d—d billious; about the most billious fever we ever heard of. Really if that disease was bilious fever, what would have become of Corpus Christi had it been yellow fever? There is really nothing in a name, but a more terrible and heart-rending scourge than that experienced at Corpus Christi, never before visited any place on the Mexican Gulf.
Source: Daily Ranchero, September 22, 1867, p. 2, col. 6
DISTRESS AT CORPUS CHRISTI
In a letter from King’s Rancho, written by Reuben Holbein, Esq., occurred the following sentence: “The sickness in Corpus Christi has been very severe for the population, and the distress among the surviving widows and orphans is beyond my power to describe. Could not your good people relieve them little, in the event your city escapes the dreadful scourge, which god grant, it may. Any funds remitted to me, will be thankfully received, strictly accounted for and faithfully applied.”
In response to the above we can say that matters are moving, and donations for the relief of the Corpus Christi sufferers, are being liberally made. Yes, something is being done. Judges Cummings and Downey are soliciting aid.
Source: Daily Ranchero, September 22, 1867, p. 3, col. 4
Research by: Msgr. Michael A. Howell
Transcription by: Geraldine D. McGloin, Nueces County Historical Commission