Claiborne County, MS and the Yellow Fever Epidemics
by Sue Burns Moore
Mrs. Katy McCaleb Headley wrote in her history, Claiborne County, Mississippi : The Promised Land, “One of the worst things that could have happened to Port Gibson, as well as to Claiborne County right after Reconstruction was the yellow fever epidemic of 1878.” Indeed it was terrible – the worst yellow fever epidemic in US history, and Claiborne County was hit particularly hard.
In those days, the real cause of yellow fever or “yellow jack”, a bite from a “Tiger” mosquito carrying the virus, was unknown. The fever was often attributed to “foul, pestilential air from the gutters,” or “noxious vapors from unsanitary conditions”, or even human carriers.
After being bitten by a carrier mosquito, and usually within three to six days, a person develops flu-like symptoms, such as extremely high fever, accompanied by excruciating head and body aches. Then after a very short time of seeming to improve, a more intense stage often follows during which the victim vomits black blood and suffers liver and kidney failure. In this final stage, jaundice (the skin turning yellow) is also a typical symptom – thus the name “yellow fever.” If a victim dies, it usually occurs within two weeks; however, survivors can feel the ill effects for a lengthy period.
Medical treatment of the day for the disease included dosing with emetics, hot senna and manna tea, and calomel. Old treatments such as cupping and bleeding were used by some doctors. Mustard footbaths and sponge baths were applied. Water was given only in moderation. One physician recommended that by the third day, ice water should be given freely, but that it should not be used in the first fifty hours.
The beginning of 1878 presaged a possible problem with so many refugees coming into the South from Cuba- a place where the disease ran rampant. A recent meteorological study suggests that 1877-78 were El Nino years with heavy rainfall which promoted the breeding of mosquitoes. By July, the first death from the fever occurred in New Orleans. The Yellow Angel of Death then proceeded up the Mississippi River, and by early days of August had made itself known in Port Gibson. By the end of August, the city was under quarantine. Within the county at Rocky Springs, “one of the town authorities violated the quarantine by bringing in a lot of bagging for baling cotton. The fever broke out in the family of his partner or agent who took home a portion of this bagging.” They couldn’t have known that it was the mosquito, not their neighbors, that they needed to fear.
A letter to the Union Chambers of Commerce, Washington Post, Sept. 9, 1878, signed by E. John Ellis, Louisiana, R.L. Gibson, Louisiana; John T. Morgan, Alabama; William H. McCardle, Mississippi; and Cyrus Bussey, president of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce states the economic chaos and human suffering created by the fever. "In New Orleans, Vicksburg and Memphis, as well as the smaller towns of Holly Springs, Grenada, Port Gibson, Canton, Greenville, Brownsville, Baton Rouge and Delhi, all business is entirely suspended. [Unemployed workingmen] have no means to get away from the pest-ridden cities; for them there is no labor, no wages, no bread- nothing but death or starvation, and this condition must last at least for fifty days, for there will be no stay of the pestilence, no resumption of business until frost."
Help did arrive from many places and sources. The Howard Association, named after the English philantropist John Howard, had been established in Virginia during the 1853 epidemic, and it rushed to aid the sufferers of 1878. Eight nurses from the association were sent by train to Port Gibson as early as mid August according to a New York Times article. Later in the month, the Times reported that Port Gibson Howard workers had sent the following telegram: “Fever very fatal, and no abatement, Two hundred and thirty cases and 35 deaths to date. Ice is wanted more than anything else. Nurses doing well, Our expenses are $150 a day. New York, St. Louis, Jackson and Columbus are aiding. But one or two convalescent persons so far.” Cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Kansas City and others sent contributions. Additional organizations including the Masons and the Odd Fellows came to the aid of the county, as well.
The Port Gibson Reveille published this account given by John J. Kelly in its first issue after quarantine was lifted following the first frost of autumn.
“On the morning of August 8, a man by the name of Augusta Simonson, an employee of the Grand Gulf and Port Gibson Railroad died. For several days before his death, he had been quite sick with a high fever. He was sent to his boarding house, the Louder Hotel One doctor said he had billous fever, another said intermittent fever, but one of the same doctors saw him the day before he died and said he had a genuine case of yellow fever. Then the stampede started. Everybody that could get a horse, a carriage, a cart, or any other conveyance did, and many on foot, left town.
“ I was working in a store for Mr. Crane, who told me to put down everything and find a way to get to the county to hunt a place for both our families. I went out and found a negro with a horse. I tried to get him to lend him to me, but he said he couldn’t. I took the horse anyway and rode off.
“About three miles from town, Mrs. Mackey, a friend of my mother, lived in a two-story house at Elmwood Springs. I told her what had happened and what I was looking for. She said, ‘Go home and bring both families out here. There is plenty of room!’ So I went back and they all packed up to leave.
“I had to get two wagons to move us out. By sundown we reached the home of Mrs. Broughton, and there spent the night. Early next morning we left for Mrs. Mackey’s. Although there were several in her family, she could always find room for others.
“Everybody in the house, even the negroes, had the fever except me. There were no nurses, so I had to wait on the sick. I waited on everybody I could. I got the wood and hauled the water from the spring, went to town as far as the quarantine station, for everything they needed, and did not take the fever. My brother, the oldest, had a bad case of the fever and what we called ‘Black vomit.’ I didn’t know what to do for him, so I gave him lots of ice water with plenty of lemon in it. Then I started for the doctor, but the vomit had stopped before we returned. When I told the doctor what I had done, he said ‘Well, Johnnie, I’m afraid you have killed your brother.’ When we reached home, my brother was much better. He soon recovered from the fever.
“Another man had the fever, so I went down and heated a bottle of whiskey to rub him with. I found that I had forgotten the sponge. So I went down to get it and when I returned, I found the whiskey was gone. The man had drunk it up. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘You surely will be dead in a little while. But he said, ‘No, I’ll be able to help you soon.’ And so he did.
“The negro cook had the fever, and she had a little negro girl that had the fever, too. A tub of water had been put in the room for some cause, and when I came in, the little girl was in the tub of water. I said, ‘What are you doing in that water. Don’t you know it will kill you?’ She said, ‘Yes suh, Boss. I’ze jest been washing off the yellow fever.’ Her mother died, but she got well.
“There were not enough doctors or well people in town to wait on the sick and dying. Sometimes it took several days to get the dead buried as many died each day. When the fever started, Howard Associations were formed to provide food, medicine and coffins to bury the dead. Mr. James A. Gage was elected president, and Mr. Fulkerson was elected secretary and treasurer. The negroes elected Thomas Richardson (colored) for president of their association.”
The Galveston Daily News of Houston, TX carried this report entitled “The Desolate District” with news of the epidemic from James A. Gage, president of the Howard Association: “Port Gibson, Oct. 1 – The epidemic at this place has greatly abated, with but few cases in town and few to have the fever. It is spreading to an alarming extent in the country, and is forcing refugees back to town as the true place of safety. The number of cases here figures about 600, out of a remaining population of 700. The deaths number 116. Among those lately recorded are Judge J. B. Thrasher and Dr. W. D. Sprott. A week ago it was thought that the disease had run its course, but the weather has since been warm, the thermometer ranging all day at 86, and new cases are occurring, and some severe and fatal relapses. In the country, Hon. G. W. Humphreys has 50 cases on his place, his son Earl being quite sick; Dan B. Humphreys has it in his family, and it is at Mrs. DeShapron’s; at the Sprott’s place in Idlewild, near the town, little Janie Leonard is quite sick with it; at Glensade, Prof. J. Payne Green has just lost two lovely and accomplished daughters, and there are more cases on the place. At Woodstock (plantation), Miss Harrison, of New Orleans, and Miss Maggie Burnett have it – both mild cases. Mr. Burnett, his daughter, Miss Sallie, and his son John, are down with it, having been refugees, but forced back to town. In fact, it is rapidly extending all over the country. On many plantations and among refugees great concern is felt for the safety of the country people, as well as for securing the crops.”
Father Abram J. Ryan was a famous and prolific poet of the day, a Catholic priest in New Orleans and other southern cities, and a Confederate chaplain, dedicated to memorializing the South and its “lost cause.”
According to Edward Blum in the Journal of Southern History, “Ryan's feelings toward northerners and toward the Union changed considerably after a devastating yellow fever outbreak in 1878 ravaged much of the South and was met by a massive relief effort on the part of northern whites.” After the epidemic, in appreciation, he wrote "Reunited":
“ For at the touch of Mercy's hand
“Thou givest back my sons again, The Southland to the Northland cries; "For all my dead, on battle plain, Thou biddest my dying now uprise: I still my sobs, I cease my tears, And thou hast recompensed my anguished years.”
The “saffron scourge” or yellow fever had killed so many, but North and South came together again as Americans to help the people of Claiborne County. National economic loss was estimated at between two to three million. Congress held hearings and a National Quarantine Act was passed. There would be other years with yellow fever, but the 1878 scourge was the last great yellow fever epidemic in the history of the county.
YELLOW FEVER REPORTS - 1878
Population about 1100. First case, August 3rd. Total cases in town and country, about 1500; total deaths in town and country about 275.
“The terrors of war in the spring of 1863
scarcely equaled the ravages of the yellow fever in the summer and fall of
1878. Two Howard associations were formed and the members went forth boldly
from the first, but as dim lights began to shine in every home, it became
evident that other help was needed. The response from the outside was prompt
and liberal. Nurses were employed from a distance. Immense sums of money
were sent from neighboring towns and from Northern cities, villages,
churches and individuals. The first number of the town paper issued after
its suspension on account of the death of the printer, estimated the cases
up to that date at 1,300 and the deaths 300. This paper says: ‘It would be
impossible to describe the pestilence when in the height
from “The History of Port Gibson” by Rev. H. G. Hawkins, The Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, ed. Franklin L. Riley, Vol. X, Oxford, Miss., 1909.
Tables taken from The Epidemic of 1878 in Mississippi : A Report of the Yellow Fever Relief Work through J. L. Power, Grand Sec. of Masons and Grand Treasurer of Odd Fellows, Jackson, Miss. , Clarion Steam Publishing House, 1879.) These same yellow fever deaths are also listed in the Vicksburg Weekly Herald, Jan. 10, 1879.
1878 DEATHS IN PORT GIBSON AND ADJACENT COUNTRY
*Note: The asterisks are from St. Joseph Parish Catholic Church records, and indicate the person was a Catholic.
Total number of colored deaths, 95.
Total number of cases treated in the county, not less than 1200.
The above list of deaths is made up with the assistance of Howard officers Gage, Englesing, Fulkerson, and J. L. Foote, undertaker. It is not claimed that it is a full list of deaths in the county, from the fact that to obtain a full and complete list is impossible. Many white and colored people have died from this fever of which I have no official information thus far. The Howards have extended their helping hand to every corner of the county that could be reached. Local pickets alone kept them from covering the whole ground. R. F. GORDON Oct. 31st, 1878. Health Officer, Port Gibson, Miss.
1878 DEATHS IN ROCKY SPRINGS
127 cases reported, 39 deaths – 12 colored deaths
Rocky Springs is a ghost town on the Natchez Trace now, but once it had a population of more than two thousand. The reasons given for its decline and eventual death are the Civil War, yellow fever, erosion, and eventually the boll weevil. Grant, with 40,000 troops, established his headquarters for a time here during the war.
The following is a list of deaths in August and September of 1878, indicating day of death taken from St. Joseph Parish, Claiborne – Jefferson Counties MS, compiled and transcribed by Ann Beckerson Brown and Walter Lee Salassi, pub. by the Claiborne - Jefferson Genealogical Society, 1995.
AMONG THOSE WHO DIED - 1878
SAMUEL READING BERTRON', born at Philadelphia, 17 December, 1806; died of yellow fever at his plantation, "Greenwood," near Port Gibson, Mississippi, 7 October, 1878. He was graduated at Princeton in 1828, and subsequently entered the theological seminary at that place. A Port Gibson newspaper, in an article on his death, says, " Mr. Bertron was one of our oldest and most respected citizens. Early in life he chose the South for his home and field of labor. By marriage he became related to some of the most worthy families of Claiborne county, and for nearly half a century he has figured in the social and ecclesiastical life of this community. . . . His intelligence was profound and highly cultured, which, in connection with his whole-heartedness and rare conversational powers, made him a most agreeable companion, and gathered about him many warm friends. . . . The first few years of his life he devoted to the ministry, in the Presbyterian church, and was a preacher of far more than ordinary ability. He first ministered to a congregation in Philadelphia, and after going South his labors were gratuitously bestowed on feeble churches ; and although he at length abandoned active service on account of a bronchial affection which disabled him from public speaking, yet interest in the cause of Christ he ever maintained. ..." Mr. Bertron took a lively interest in the establishment of the Chamberlain Hunt college in Port Gibson, and was elected its president. He married (1) 5 August, 1834, Caroline Christie, of Port Gibson ; she died in 1839, leaving two daughters ; he married (2) in 1847, Mrs. Catherine Barnes, of Claiborne county, Mississippi, who died in 1849 ; he married (3) 5 August, 1857, Ottilie, daughter of Francis Mueller by his wife Lambertine von Potthof. Mrs. Bertron was born 25 December, 1829, at Bruchsal, Grand Duchy of Baden. Their son, Samuel Reading Bertron, is a member (1898) of the banking firm of Bertron & Storrs, of New York city.
taken from Genealogical and Biographical Memoirs of Reading, Howell, Yerkes by Josiah G. Leach, Lippencott, 1898.
was born of mingled Virginia and New England stock, in
from Southern Writers: Selections in Prose and Verse, by Wm. P. Trent, McMillian, 1905.
Mary Brower Massey
(Emily E. H. Massey, Dr. Chas. W. Harris, Ann E. Harris, Jacob Early, Jer'h
Early, Sr., Thos. Early, John Early) m. 1866 Dr. Joseph E. Lynch. Mrs.
Lynch was unusually clever and well educated: graduated with honors from
St. Agnes Dominican Academy at Memphis, Tenn. She d. of yellow fever at Port
Gibson, Miss., in 1878, leaving a very young daughter, Ethel, who thus
orphaned, lived with her guardian in Memphis, but while still of tender
years, joined an aunt at the Dominican nunnery in Ohio. Dr. Lynch was of
Irish parentage: the family includes a long line of surgeons dating back to
William the Conqueror, when they are said to have gone to England from
France and been prominent in the history of Ireland. Dr. Lynch graduated at
the N. Y. Medical College, after taking a collegiate course with the
Dominicans at St. Joseph's College, Somerset, Ohio, and reading medicine
with his father, Dr. Edward Lynch. He entered the U. S. Army as surgeon on
Maj. Gen. Tremont's staff in 1861 and remained in the army till the close of
the war, when he was given charge of hospitals established by Grant at
Memphis: he rose from youngest staff surgeon in service to the rank of
Major-Surgeon. In Memphis he was presented
from The Family of Early by Ruth Hariston Early, Brown-Morrison, 1920.
Sarah Blackburn Massey
(Emily E. Harris, Dr. Chas. W. Harris, Ann E. Harris, Jacob Early, Jer'h
Early, Sr., Thos. Early, John Early) m. Dr. J. J. Kirkbride, of
Philadelphia. Mrs. Kirkbride also graduated from St. Agnes Dom. Acad.
with honors: possessed beauty and much musical ability: d. of yellow fever
at Port Gibson 1878, leaving one child. Dr. Kirkbride was of a prominent
from The Family of Early by Ruth Hariston Early, Brown-Morrison, 1920.
Charles Shreve, Sr. was a Port Gibson druggist who had originally been in business at Grand Gulf as early as 1838. He opened Shreve’s Drug Store in Port Gibson in 1852. His wife and his son, Charles Jr. also died.
Joseph Price family of Beech Grove community. Although the only individual Price grave that is marked with the death date 1878 in the Herlong Cemetery is that of Rev. Robert J. Price, in recent years Martha Leese and other family members have placed a memorial there to the Joseph Price family.
Joseph J. Price, b. Nov. 7, 1821, d. Oct. 2, 1878
Elizabeth Raiborn/Rayborn Price, b.1827, d. 15 Sept. 1878
Rev. Robert J. W. Price, husband Of Eliza Ellen McGrew, b. Sept. 15,1849, d. Sept. 11, 1878
Joseph A. Price, b. 14 Oct. 1852, d. 4 Oct. 1878
Amos Greer family of Beech Grove community. Amos Greer did not die, but his wife Mary Eugenia Price Greer and three of his children did. His wife Mary Eugenia was a daughter of Joseph Price and Elizabeth Raiburn. They are believed to be buried on private property on or near the Sol Greer place.
Mary Eugenia Price Greer, b. Sept. 28, 1847, d. Oct. 4, 1878
Rosa Eugenia Price, b. Apr. 26, 1872, d. Aug. 20, 1878
Lavenia Estella Greer, b. Feb. 18, 1874, d. 17 Sept. 1878
Joseph S. Greer, b. Oct. 1875. d. 17 Oct. 1878
Tyree Lilly of Beech Grove Community , b. 1818, d. Oct. 18, 1878, husband of Mary Amanda Herlong, dau. of David and Mary Varnado Herlong.
Adaline Lenora Herlong Tucker, of Beech Grove community, b. Dec. 29, 1822, d. Sept. 5, 1878, dau. of David and Mary Varnado Herlong, wife of Charles Tucker.
Elizabeth Butler Fife, 2nd wife of Saxon Shaw Fife, of Beech Grove community, b. ca 1831, d. Oct. 7, 1878.
Butler A. Fife, son of Saxon Saxon Fife b, ca 1868
J.W. (William?) Fife, son of Saxon Shaw Fife, b. ca 1869
Dr. William Moore was the great uncle of Port Gibson historian, Katie McCaleb Headly who records, “William Moore and his little children (Ella and Duncan) died in this epidemic in Port Gibson, and the wife Ann McDougal Moore, dug the graves and buried her dead alone.”
Mr. Michael Thaler died Sept. 4th, 1878
Adolph Thaler died Sept. 3rd, 1878 - age 21
Tobias Thaler died Sept. 3rd,1878 - age 16
Rudolphus Thaler died Sept. 3rd, 1878 - age 11
From passenger list of ship "New York" –embarked Bremen & Havre, debarked New Orleans, La. on Dec. 1,1871. Listed were eleven Thalers bound for
Mrs. Daniel Burnet Humphreys, nee Kate Shelby Jefferies, age 36 and dau. Eva.
Benjamin Humphreys, son of George Wilson Humphreys and wife Catherine B. Prince, d. Oct. 7, 1878, age 20 years, 8 mos, 20 days.
John D. Fairly, b. 17 Oct.1836, Jefferson Co. MS, d.23 Aug. 1878. son of Peter Fairley and Mary McLaurin Fairley. He was a teacher in the 1860 census, but joined the 12th MS Inf. Co A, “Charlie Clark’s Rifles at onset of war. He is listed as a major in the Howard Assn.’s death list.
Dr. Henry C. Snodgrass, born ca 1831, served as a second lieutenant in 4th MS Cavalry, Co H and Hughes Cavalry Batallion.
William Daughtery was a private in Roberts Co., MS Artillery, also called “Seven Stars Artillery.” His wife was Ruth Foster.
Judge John B. Thrasher was born ca 1800 in Pendleton Co. KY, married Eliza Ragland, and died at age 78 on Sept. 13, 1878, a very pro-active Democrat during Reconstruction.
Mrs. Thomas B. Kavanaugh, nee Margaret L. Lischer, had one child, John Thomas Kavanaugh, born in March of 1878.
This family was from France according to the 1860 census. John E. Lischer b. 1804 and wife Margaret, b. ca 1812. Their children who died in the epidemic included Frank, b. ca 1839 in PA ; George F. b. ca 1860 and daughter Margaret b. ca 1844 who married Thomas B. Kavanaugh. John Lischer also died, but it is unknown if this is the father or the son, b. ca 1835 in NY. An infant, E. E. Lischer is also listed among the dead.
Dr. Walter D. Sprott was born about 1824, a native of Pennsylvania. His wife was Josephine Sprott. He was a pro-active Republican during Reconstruction and served as a U. S. Deputy.
C. L. Barrot served as a first lieutenant in the siege of Port Hudson. He was in the 24th Batt. MS Cavalry, Co B, also known as the “Claiborne Light Artillery.”
Dr. Blicksfeldt “died in the epidemic of 1878.” Headley’s History
Rev. D. A. J. Parker family
Rev. Daniel Andrew Jackson Parker, b. Murfreesborough, TN about 1818 and wife Sarah Mann Parker b. about 1827 in MS . Both died in 1878 at Rocky Springs where he had pastored the Methodist Church. He was a Mason.
Armstrong Ellis Flowers, b. about 1823, KY, d. 1878. Private 38th MS Regt. MS Vols, Co. B. He was married to Martha Reed. Buried in Rocky Springs Cemetery.
Mr. and Mrs. George Goza. G. W. Goza, son of Francis Fontaine Goza, married Charlotte Bush in 1874 in Copiah Co. He was a private in the 24th Batt. MS Cavalry, Davenport’s Co. They lived at Rocky Springs.
Julia Kiefer Newman, dau. of Louiis Kiefer and Marie Roser, and wife of Louis T. Newman, sister of Emanuel Kiefer and Minnie Kiefer Cahn, b. 14 Apr. , d. 11 Oct. 1878. All three children of Louis T. Newman and Julia Kiefer Newman died:
Bernard Roser Newman, b. 10 June 1870, d. 7 Oct. 1878
Sidney Kiefer Newman, b. 19 Dec. 1874, d. 19 Oct. 1878
Corinne Newman, b. 25 Oct. 1877, d. 20 Oct. 1878
Major John J. B. Rundell, died 29 Aug, 1878.
Mr. Shannon, died before 8 Oct. 1878.
Lizzie and Gayosa Green, daughters of Professor J. Payne Green, of Glensade, died Sept. 28 and Sept. 30,1878.
RECORDED IN CEMETERIES - 1878
Ben Mullen of Port Gibson recorded the small cemeteries in the county around Port Gibson many years ago. The large Wintergreen Cemetery in Port Gibson was recorded by Walter Salassi. Since the epidemic lasted from August until October, I have included only deaths during or around that time. Many of these are on the Howard Association list as well.
Wallace Cemetery –
Mary O. Wallace, dau. of James and Catherine Wallace, b. Nov. 14, 1859, d. Oct. 27, 1878.
Pisgah or Patton Cemetery –
Angelina McClure, wife of Robert S. Patton, Sr. b. Oct. 19, 1831, d. Oct. 1, 1878.
Robert S. Patton Sr., b. Jan. 19, 1823, no death date, but he is found in the Howard Assn. yellow fever death list and is buried beside his wife.
Myra E. Patton, wife of Dr. Thos. R. Young, b. May 7, 1857, d. Oct. 8, 1878
Dr. Thomas R. Young, b. July 3, 1850, d. Oct. 5, 1878
Diana, wife of T. C. (Thomas Calvit) Trevilion , died Sept. 16, 1878, aged 59 years.
John D. Fairly , b. Oct. 17, 1836, d. Aug. 23, 1878.
John Jackson Harper b. June 15,1838. Auburn, Macon Co. Alabama, d. Oct. 30, 1878, Rocky Springs, Claiborne Co. MS, 1st Lieut. Van Dorn Comd. C. S. A., son of Thomas H. and Elizabeth W. J. Taylor Harper
Olive Branch Powers, wife of John J. Harper, b. 1835, Claiborne Co. Miss., d. Aug. 31, 1878, Claiborne Co. Miss., dau. of Henry C. L. and Laura J. Hedrick Powers.
Rocky Springs Church Cemetery
Edwin D. Lum, b. Sept. 14, 1824, d. Oct.21, 1878
Emily McAlpine, wife of James Turnstall Harper. d. Oct. 3, 1878, aged 66 years
Robert J. Price, born Sept. 15, 1849, d. Sept. 11, 1878
Tyre Lilly, died Oct. 18, 1878, aged 64
Adeline Tucker, b. Dec. 29, 1822, d. Sept. 5, 1878
Pearson Cemetery (in Grand Gulf State Park)
Henry H. Pearson, b. 1856, d.1878
Charles A. Pearson b. 1805, d. 1878
Port Gibson Catholic Cemetery
Thomas Kelly, died --- 28, 1878
Wintergreen Cemetery, Port Gibson
Alice May Disharoon, daughter of Levin & Sylvia Disharoon, b. 18 May 1864, d. 1 Oct. 1878
William Levin Disharoon, son of Levin and Lizzie Disharoon, b. 23 Feb. 1855, d. 2 Oct. 1878.
Elizabeth Fontaine Humphreys Berton, b. 25 June 1856, d. 22 Oct. 1878
Duncan Moore, b. 1871, d. 1878
Ella Moore, b. Apr. 1866, d. Sept. 1878
William H. Moore, b. 1836 (1838?), d. 1878
Jannie E. Mason, d. 3 Sept. 1878, dau. of James S. & E. V. Mason, “died of yellow fever – aged 18”
Benjamin Humphreys, b. 12 Feb. 1857, d. 7 Oct. 1878. son of G. W. and C. B. Humphreys
Mary M. Parker, b. 10 Oct. 1867, d. 18 Oct. 1878, dau. of John M. and Roberta Parker
John B. Thrasher, b. 9 Oct. 1800, d. 13 Sept. 1878, b. in Pendleton Co., KY, “an able lawyer, for 52 years a member of the Port Gibson bar,” very pro-active Democrat during Reconstruction.
Mary Brown Lynch, (nee Massey/Massie), 1851-1878
Sarah B. Kirkbride, (nee Massey) 1851 – 1878
W. Russell Gordon, b. 29 June 1864, d. 19 Sept. 1878, son of R. F. & S. S. Gordon
Sallie B. Burnet, b. 18 Sept. 1856, d. 5 Oct. 1878, dau. of John & Elizabeth Burnet
William H. Martin, d. 4 Oct 1878, born in Talbot Co. MD, aged 78 years
M. E. Martin, d. 23 Sept. 1878
Rev. Samuel Reading Bertron, b. 17 Dec. 1806, d. 7 Oct. 1878, born in Philadelphia, PA, died of yellow fever near Port Gibson, Miss.
Charles Shreve, b.25 Nov. 1813, d. 31 Aug. 1878
Charles Shreve, b. 12 Feb. 1857, d. 11 Sept. 1878, son of Charles and Margaret Shreve
Margaret B. Hackley, wife of Charles Shreve, b.5 Feb. 1822, d. 9 Sept. 1878
Lizzie Green, d. 28 Sept. 1878, aged 17 years
Gayoso Green, d. 30 Sept. 1878, aged 15 years
Henry Shafer Wheeless, b. 6 Nov 1844, d. 26 Aug 1878
Mary Jane Wheeless, b. 21 Mar 1851, d. 24 Aug 1878, dau of C. B. & E. Wheeless
Anna Maria Siarker, wife of Herman Simonson, b. 10 Jan. 1856, d. 25 Aug. 1878,
Conrad Faust, d. 1 Sept. 1878, died of yellow fever, aged 55 years
Elizabeth Faust, 7 Sept. 1878, died of yellow fever, aged 48 years
Port Gibson Jewish Cemetery
Julia Kiefer Newman, b. 14 Apr. 1841, d. 11 Oct. 1878
Bernard Roser Newman, b. 10 June 1870, d. 7 Oct. 1878
Sidney Kiefer Newman, b. 19 Dec. 1874, d. 19 Oct. 1878
Corinne Newman, b. 25 Oct. 1877, d. 20 Oct. 1878
Simon Harris , d. Aug. 26, 1878 of yellow fever, born in Prussia
Rebecca Herrmann (Herman) , b. Feb. 20, 1872, d. 10 Sept. 1878
DEATHS IN YELLOW FEVER SEASON OF OTHER EPIDEMIC YEARS
Earlier years had brought yellow fever in epidemic proportions to the county beginning as early as 1817, 1819, and 1823. The Daily National Intelligencer, published in Washington D. C. reported on December 23, 1819, the following information: “Port Gibson, Miss. Nov. 20 – The National Intelligencer, of the 3rd inst. has noticed the unusual mortality in Port Gibson, the present season, and seems to insinuate, from the silence of the (Port Gibson) Correspondent, that a worse fever prevailed than the editor was willing to announce. We assure the editors of that paper that nothing on the subject of the sickness there was concealed, although the mortality was unusual. We had information from the most respectable physicians of the town, who were certainly the best judges of the character of the fever. – Correspondent” The yellow fever season following the serious 1823 epidemic was a cause for levity between a physician in Natchez and his friend in Port Gibson. An extract of the letter printed in the Mississippi State Gazette from the Port Gibson Correspondent, on Sept. 11, reads: “The physicians are almost starving. We have the healthiest d----d place in the world at this time, and have had, for the last 2 or 3 months. What is worse than all, there is no likelihood of anything to do this whole year – dreadful! dreadful times!!”
Two severe epidemics occurred in the 1840’s and two in the 1850’s. In 1853, due to ignorance that yellow fever was a mosquito-borne disease, the following incident occurred in the county: In the Transactions of the American Medical Association, Vol. 7, 1854, one doctor wrote, “I may remark that Grand Gulf is a small town, immediately on the Mississippi river, between Natchez and Vicksburg. It was severely scourged by the epidemic of 1853, the first time yellow fever ever prevailed there…. . I find in the New Orleans Medical News and Hospital Gazette for June and July, 1854, a very interesting account of the epidemic in that neighborhood, by Dr. A. P. Jones (Jefferson County). The author seems to be decidedly of the opinion that the disease was brought either from Port Gibson or Natchez to Mr. Coleman's place, and from there spread through the neighborhood by infectious communication. This is the leading idea intended to be illustrated by Dr. Jones' narrative of the course of events; but, in his efforts to establish its truth, he overdoes the thing completely, and proves too much. He would make it appear that yellow fever is the most highly infectious and communicable disease in the whole catalogue of nosology. Take, for instance, the following:— ‘A Jew peddler, recently from Port Gibson, was seized with fever while on his rounds, and evidently infected three families. He was literally driven from one to the other till he got to Heath's, where, being too ill to get back to town, he was put in a back shed-room of the dwelling, and died of black vomit on the 20th of September. So much were the people of the house alarmed, that the corpse was hurried into a coffin without dressing; his pocket-book of papers, purse of money, and everything on his person, were buried with him. The weather- boarding and gable-end of the room were knocked off to let in air and rain; the bedding and furniture were burned, and only a few pieces of the latter were allowed to lie out one or two hundred feet from the dwelling for two weeks; meantime, no one sickened. At the end of two weeks, the bedclothes were brought in, boiled, wrung out, and dried about the house, Mrs. Heath seeing to it. Within eight days from that time, and about twenty from the burial of the poor peddler, Mrs. Heath, her husband and son, the woman who washed the clothes, and several other servants, sickened; the first two died, and the others recovered." The peddler communicated the disease on another plantation to a black boy, who was seized sixteen days after the former had left. Sixteen days after the time of his death, his mistress was attacked and died similarly.’”
Northern newspapers reported the severity of the 1853 epidemic. From the Pittsfield, Mass. Sun, Sept. 22, 1853, “At New Orleans...241 deaths this week from yellow fever….The New Orleans Picayune says the yellow fever at that place still continues very malignant; the blacks, however, are the principal victims….At Grand Gulf the fever is raging with great severity; half the residents were taken down in one week. There was only one physician in the place, and he completely worn out with his arduous duties. At Port Gibson, the fever was more malignant than even at New Orleans…. Several plantations along the Mississippi were suffering dreadfully from fever.”
The Hinds County Gazette, Raymond, Miss., on Nov. 14, 1855, ran this article: “The Port Gibson Herald says ‘The yellow fever continues to rail in this town. We had thought the sever frosts, succeeded by drenching rains, would have purged us of this curse. But it is not so. There is no abatement of the disease. There has been for ten to fifteen new cases since last issue, and the following persons have died: J. W. Gordon, B. C. Brown, --- Boyd, Manuel Levy. There have been several deaths in the adjoining counties. When the dreadful scourge that now is with us will subside, the good God only knows.”
Few years passed without some deaths from yellow fever, but not all years were considered epidemic years. A letter written by Mary Varnado Herlong, wife of David Herlong, of Claiborne County to her daughter, dated October, 5, 1858, begins, “Dear Daughter, I take this opportunity to drop a few lines to inform you that our families are well at present. But Sarah Ann McGrew’s baby is very sick. It has not been clear of the fever in 21 days & there in not much likely now of it ever recovering. There has several of the Negroes been sick. Millers family have all been sick but are better at present. It has been very sickly here among our neighbors. Cuff Wells buries one of his children today and Pack Wells, his only daughter. The yellow fever is at Rodney, but it is not in P. G. (Port Gibson).”
Burials in Wintergreen Cemetery, Port Gibson
from Wintergreen Cemetery, Claiborne County, Mississippi, compiled by Walter S. Salassi, ed. J. S. Bridges. Contributed by Ann B. Brown and Sue B. Moore
The 1843 Epidemic
The 1853 Epidemic
The 1855 Epidemic
Burials at other Cemeteries in the County in Epidemic Years
from Claiborne County Mississippi: The Promised Land, compiled by Katy McCaleb Headley, Port Gibson County Historical Society, Moran Industries, Baton Rouge, 1976.
Amelia W, Calhoun, b. 28 Sept. 1842, d. 23 Oct. 1843, dau. Ezekiel W. and Amelia H. Calhoun
Mary Emma Baker, b. 15 May 1843, d. 19 Aug. 1843
Mary Andrews, d. 27 Aug. 1843, dau. of James and Olevia Andrews, aged 3 years, ten months
Peggy Logan, b. 19 Oct. 1779, d. 18 Sept. 1843 in Rodney, Miss., wife of Samuel Logan, dau. of William and Elizabeth Briscoe, of Richmond, Ky.
Margaret S. Martin, b. 24 Feb. 1816 in Richmond, Ky., d. 26 Sept. 1843 in Rodney, Miss., consort of C. T. Martin
Freeland or Windsor Cemetery
Thomas Freeland, b. 17 Apr. 1824, Amherst, Mass., d. 5 Aug. 1843, son of Thomas and Sarah Greenfield Freeland
Augustin Freeland, b. 4 Mar. 1837, d. 18 Sept. 1843, son of Thomas and Lavinia Freeland
Elizabeth Briscoe, d. Oct. 1843, in 33rd year, wife of John Briscoe
Oakland College Cemetery
John R. Savage, M.D., b. 10 Mar. 1800, Salem. Mass.,d. 6 Oct. 1843, Rodney, Miss.
King or Buckhorn Cemetery
James A. Neelly, b. 29 Jan. 1822, d. 15 Nov. 1847, son of John G. and J. M. Neelley
William Albert Loyd, b. 24 Sept. 1874, d. 29 Oct. 1853
Mollie Humphreys, b.16 Apr 1851, d. 20 July 1853, infant of Dr. S. C. and Ruth Humphrey
Balesie Humphrey, b. 22 Sept. 1852, d. 28 July 1853
Dr. S. C. Humphreys, d. 22 Nov. 1853, aged 30 years, 7 mos., 14 days
John W. Stone, b. 12 Nov.1852, d. 8 Oct. 1853, son of S. W. and M. F. Stone
James A. Withers, d. 6 Oct. 1853, aged 21 years
Samuel Cobun, b, 3 June, 1798, died of yellow fever 22 Oct. 1853
John B. Cobun was born Aug. 11, 1800, died of yellow fever Oct. 29, 1853.
Booth McCaleb Cemetery
Charlotte M. Bobo, wife of John Bobo, d. 20 Aug. 1853, aged 29 years and 10 days
David. D. Erwin, M. D., b. 31 May, 1822, d. 26 Sept. 1853
Thomas Jefferson Williams, d. 14 Aug. 1853, aged 21 years, son of Lewis Williams
Port Gibson Catholic Cemetery
John Andrew Ficrabias, d. 21 Sept. 1853 in the 30th year of his age. Native of France and first resident priest of Port Gibson.
Elizabeth Byrnes Moore, b. 15 June 1793, d. 28 Sept. 1853, wife of Dr. Joseph Moore, dau. of Elias and Elizabeth Byrnes
Grand Gulf Cemetery
Daniel Green, b. 22 Mar. 1796, d. 15 Oct. 1853
Margaret Johnson, b. 10 May, 1830, d. 26 Aug. 1855, wife of J. G. Johnson
Martha E. Humphreys, b. 30 Dec. 1822, d. 7 Sept, 1855
from St. Joseph Parish, Claiborne – Jefferson, Mississippi, compiled and transcribed by Ann Beckerson Brown and Walter Salassi, pub. by Claiborne - Jefferson Genealogical Society, J&W Enterprises, Shreveport, LA, 1995.
page 52 –
On the 15th Aug. I performed the funeral ceremony over the remains of Patrick Hughes who died on the 14th. Port Gibson, Aug. 16, 1853, signed J. Fierabras
On the 16th of Aug. I performed the funeral ceremony over the remains of Mrs. Theresa Leit who died on the 15th. Port Gibson, Aug. 19, 1853, signed J. Fierabras
I, this day, performed the funeral ceremony over the remains of Michael Emicelli who died this very same day. Port Gibson, Aug. 19, 1853, signed J. Fierabras
On the 21st day of Sept. 1853, Rev. C. J. Fierabras, native of Nantes, France, of the Prevailing Epidemic (yellow fever) departed this life. His remains were interred in the new Catholic Burying ground, Port Gibson (place of his demise), without the attendance of a catholic clergyman. He died at 2 o’clock A. M. after an illness of ten days. Joseph Moore, recorder. Port Gibson, 21 Sept. 1853, witnessed by I. J. Azlward and M. F. Grignon, P.
compiled and submitted by Sue B. Moore
Assistant State Coordinators