A History of the Yellow Fever: The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878, in Memphis, Tenn., Embracing a Complete List of the Dead, the Names of the Doctors and Nurses Employed, Names of All who Contributed Money Or Means, and the Names and History of the Howards, Together with Other Data, and Lists of the Dead Elsewhere (Google eBook)
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This is a remarkable book for its depth and for how soon after the terrible epidemic it went into print. If you want real life drama that no novel or movie can match, read this account of the epidemic that almost destroyed a city. Some say that if it did not destroy the city, it at the very least changed the population of the town. Before the epidemic, it was seen as a town on a par with Atlanta, Georgia, because of its population. Afterward, so many people had died or moved away that it was no longer the same town.
All through it, of course, is the great mystery, meaning the mystery of what caused all the misery. No one then understood it. Some thought it related to sanitation or, rather, filth. The story of heroics in this book are beyond description, too, incidentally, especially among the religious people in the town. The epidemic was well-known all across the country, and many people sent money or even went to the town to help. Yet, in the cases of doctors and nurses, most of those who came from outside Memphis soon contracted the disease and died themselves They seemed more susceptible to it than those who lived there. It got so bad that the doctors there asked that no more doctors from outside the area offer their services.
There also are the cowards in the story, such as the man who left his wife and children or who was away and would not return to help them. Again, read the book. It is an incredible story, one that most of us today have no inkling of. The book itself and much that happened in Memphis at the time came about becaue of an earlier experience with a yellow fever epidemic. From that, the town organized a group known as the Howards who once the epidemic struck took full charge of all that had to be done. Yet, as you read, as much preparation as they made and as much as they thought they knew, you realize they were up against something that they could not defeat. Sorry if this is a bit jumbled. Read to book. You will come away with great sadness for what you learned that happened to so many people.