Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 3, September, 1992 Page: 139
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The Epidemic of 1873, in Columbus, Texas
the type of the disease was daily becoming more severe. There were still the large, clean,
red tongue, tender stomach and bowels, ushered in with chill; but there was more
remission and intermission in the febrile stage of the disease, and a greater tendency to
congestion. Still quinine was not often tolerated, nor did the patients bear well the
repetition of any purgative medicine until after the disappearance of the fever, when, in
cases where the nausea was protracted, I sometimes gave syrup rhei aromat. alternately
with the magnesia mixture, until the dark grumous matter ceased to pass from the
But yet there was no panic among our people. It was not until the 18th, on
which three deaths occurred, that the cry of yellow fever was started, and our entire
population so utterly demoralized. Vast numbers fled precipitately to the country; some
few whose circumstances justified the expense, to Galveston and other places where
medical aid would be convenient in case they needed it. It was estimated that there were
not three hundred white persons left in town, but this was evidently an error, for there
were subsequently something more than a thousand cases of the disease reported. My
own opinion is - and I have taken all possible care to approximate the truth - that there
were from one thousand to twelve hundred whites, and probably some eight hundred
negroes in town, throughout the greater part of the time that the epidemic prevailed, a
large number of our negro population being absent, as usual at that season of the year,
On Saturday, the 18th day of October, there were three deaths in town, and
the disease from which they occurred was emphatically pronounced yellow fever.
Whatever it was, it unquestionably prevailed with unabated malignity, from about this
period until the 31st day of December. 'But before we proceed with a description of its
ravages, let us fix some landmarks to aid the reader in a just conception of its onset, and
assist him in keeping pace with its progress.
Charter street constitutes the eastern boundary of the town, but is cut into
and obliterated by the river for the space of three squares near its centre, leaving only
its southern and northern extremities. Front street is entirely parallel with, and one
square west of, Charter. Travis, Milam, Bowie, Live Oak, Prairie and Austin streets, are
the next, in the order in which they are named, parallel with, and west of Front street,
as far as they need be enumerated. Jackson street, crossing these at right angles, is as
far south as any case of the epidemic occurred, and, proceeding north from it, we
encounter successively Washington, Spring, Walnut, Crockett, Preston and Dewees.
The boundary thus indicated, i. e., from Chester [Charter] street west to Austin, and from
Jackson street north to Dewees, includes about two-thirds of the population of the town,
and that portion of it to which the epidemic was confined. As an additional aid, we may
also mention that the Courthouse square is bounded on the north by Walnut, the east
by Travis, the south by Spring, and the west by Milam streets. And the Galveston,
Harrisburg and San Antonio railroad penetrates the town through the eastern extremity
of Crockett street, diverging at the crossing of Travis to the northwest to the passenger
depot on Milam, between Crockett and Preston streets, and to the freight depot and
lumber yard west of Milam, and north of Preston street.
Let us now return to the three deaths which inaugurated the panic, if not the
epidemic. I have not been able to obtain much reliable information with respect to the
predominating symptoms in either case, but some few facts in the history of two of them
Mr. Sachs, laborer in a lumber yard near the freight depot, and residing on
the northwest corner of Bowie and Jackson streets, of feeble health and regularly a "hard
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 3, September, 1992, periodical, September 1992; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151386/m1/11/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.