The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 46
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of sanitary laws rendered the people powerless to prevent, namely:
the almost yearly prevalence of yellow fever. This dread disease,
in some years, literally decimated the population, and accounts in
large measure for the slow growth of the city at this period, and
for many years afterward. There were no professional, or trained
nurses, and kind hearted residents forgot all selfish interests,
turned their homes into hospitals for afflicted friends, and, in
many cases for strangers, and devoted themselves to the needs of
the sick. Details of countless instances of Christian devotion, well
known to old citizens, would fill volumes illustrating the large
hearted character of Houston's first settlers. The very name
"yellow fever" carried the suggestion of mortality, and was not
used by the press, when it could be avoided, and never until the
disease was known to be raging with great virulence. The fall
of 1839 witnessed a very fatal epidemic of this plague.
Houston had made steady advances during its two years as
capital of the Republic. When this honor, the source of its dis-
tinction, and in large measure of its prosperity, was withdrawn,
a cloud of gloom gathered and spread. Congress, in 1839, decreed
that Austin should henceforth be the capital. After this law went
into effect, and the removal of the archives took place, Houston
had the air of a deserted town. A census, taken a short time be-
fore, stated that the resident population was 2073,-males 1620,
females 453-amount of property assessed $2,405,865. The pros-
perity then existing was shown by the fact that there were two
theatres, several hotels and boarding houses, to say nothing of
business houses, and five steamboats were plying regularly between
Houston and Galveston. It was the largest town in Texas, and its
citizens were of a character to overcome obstacles. However, dur-
ing the period of depression following the removal of the capital,
some of them, recognizing the superior natural advantage of Har-
risburg (viz: good navigation), removed thither. The lawsuit
which had been pending between the Harrises and Wilsons had
been settled by compromise, and the property owners felt that, if
a railroad could be built to the Brazos, the facilities for shipping
at Harrisburg would at once build up the town. Several leading
families devoted themselves to this enterprise, and moved from
Houston to Harrisburg. A sharp rivalry sprang up between the
towns, which were only five miles apart in a straight line, though
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916, periodical, 1916; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101067/m1/55/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.