The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954 Page: 265
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THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LVII JANUARY, 1954 No. 3
r. 7crdinaHd Jkerf
Pioneer Physicia a#d SKureoH
HENRY B. DIELMANN
N THE YEAR 1850, when Dr. Ferdinand Charles von Herff
permanently moved to San Antonio, the Texas frontier town
had but 3,488 inhabitants. Of these 1,167 were native
Texans; 678 were from other states; 572 from Mexico; 455 from
Germany and Prussia; 128 from Ireland; 92 from France; 48 from
England and Scotland; 41 from other countries; and 45 of un-
known origin. There were 262 negro slaves. The cosmopolitan
character of the city was evidenced only by the varied and colorful
origin of its population. In its outward appearance it was an old
Mexican town of one-story, flat-roofed stone or adobe houses on
unpaved, dusty, narrow streets and plazas. At that time the mis-
sions had practically gone to ruin, and the Alamo was an army
warehouse. Agriculture was at a low ebb and visitors wondered
how the population made a living. In spite of its appearance San
Antonio was the principal trading point between Mexico, Santa
Fe, El Paso, New Orleans, and points north. There were quite a
few American traders and merchants, and big caravans carried
the various merchandise either on burros or in wagons and were
often attacked by hostile Indians. In those days living conditions
in the Alamo city were decidedly primitive.
In 1849, the year previous to Dr. von Herff's arrival, San An-
tonio had had a cholera epidemic which took the lives of fifteen
to twenty persons a day. At that time medicine and its practice in
Texas were most primitive. Immigrants to Texas who had been
accustomed to competent medical care at home found themselves
the victims of every kind of quackery. It is safe to say that the
healthy climate of Texas, particularly around San Antonio, cured
many an immigrant before the quacks and home remedies and
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954, periodical, 1954; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/m1/344/?rotate=270: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.