Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 3, September, 1992 Page: 147
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The Epidemic of 1873, in Columbus, Texas
On Wednesday, the 29th, however, there were two deaths in the country,
which resembled yellow fever very much, and, on account of the circumstances under
which they occurred, are worthy of note.
Mrs. P's residence, on Washington street, between Milam and Bowie, was
not quite a square southwest from the county jail, which our inefficient officers1' had
permitted to become intolerably filthy and offensive. She had lost a son with suppression
of the urine some eight or nine weeks before she herself was taken. Then the young
man, who had black vomit on the 28th or 29th of September, was confined at her house.
As soon as the yellow fever was announced, she removed from town, and took refuge
with a friend three miles south, whose residence was near the low margin of the river,
and where the prevailing winds swept over the wet and putrid mass. She was attacked
on the 22d, and died with black vomit on the 29th day of October. A lady friend, who
assisted her to nurse her son first, then the young man, and finally herself, was taken
a few days later, and died with black vomit and suppression of urine on the 5th of
November. Yet no member of the family with which they were domiciled contracted the
disease. I did not see this case, but gathered the facts from Dr. Towsey.1'
The other case, a Mr. Scott Price, aged thirty-five years, a northern man, but
recently arrived in the country, was employed at Borden's meat factory, on Harvey's
creek, nine miles west of the town. Had not been away from his post, or had
communication with Columbus or any other infected place for three months. Was taken
with a chill on the 24th, accompanied with severe pains in the head, back and limbs,
fever, which seemed to rise gradually for twenty-four hours, and then remained
stationary for two days, and began to decline. On the fourth day he became jaundiced
and had suppression of urine and nausea. I was called to him on the evening of the fourth
day of his illness; found him extremely restless, but uncomplaining; skin a bright lemon
yellow, vomiting occasionally a dark material, which, upon being allowed to stand a few
minutes, deposited a dark fleecy-looking sediment, the supernatant fluid being a deep
straw color and intensely acid. The patient died during the night of the fifth day of his
illness. No other case occurred on the premises.20
On the night of the 29th, we had a light frost.
On Thursday, the 30th, Mr. B died at the old hotel, on-the south side of
the public square, probably from the effects of a tablespoon of aqua ammonia, furnished
by his druggist by mistake for liq. am. ar.21
Another frost, and the mercury at 420 Fah. at 9 o'clock, A. M.
On Sunday, November 2d, there was but one death, and that occurred on
Washington street, between Front and the river, where subsequently four other
18 Original note: The extravagant humanity of these same officers would not permit them to keep
their prisoners in this jail, after the appearance of the epidemic. They took them out on the prairie, where they
were so effectually guarded, and their health so well protected, that most of those charged with murder or
other grave crimes escaped.
19 Editor's note: "Mrs. P" was undoubtedly Elizabeth Pinchback, whose death on October 29 is
reported in The Fayette County New Ere of November 7, 1873. The lady friend who assisted her may have
been Mrs. Clapp, whose death on November 5 is chronicled in The Fayette County New Era of November 14,
20 Editor's note: Benjamin S. Price, born April 8, 1844 and died October 28, 1873, is buried in Odd
Fellows Rest Cemetery in Columbus. His date of death and age are at variance with Dr. Harrison's report, but
he is buried alone and in an otherwise unmarked plot, suggesting that he had no family in town. He is probably
the same man that Dr. Harrison refers to as "Scott Price."
21 Editor's note: Probably Noah Bonds, the proprietor of the Bonds' Hotel, at which he died. His
tombstone, in Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery at Columbus gives the very same date of death as Dr. Harrison does,
October 30, 1873.
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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/m1/19/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.