Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 3, September, 1992 Page: 151
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The Epidemic of 1873, in Columbus, Texas
Three main sources have been used to identify and count the number of
victims of the epidemic: Dr. Harrison's article, The Galveston Daily News, and The
Fayette County New Era. Unhappily, the three do not agree on the number of deaths
caused by the fever. Dr. Harrison's report chronicles the death of 62 people.'4 The
Fayette County New Era and The Galveston Daily News, which frequently gave the
names of the victims rather than simply counting them, identify, either by name, occu-
pation, nationality, or in some other specific way, 58 and 47 victims respectively.4e But,
both papers also report, at different points during the epidemic, a number of victims to
date. The Fayette County New Era of December 5, 1873 states that, as of December
1, 61 people had died and The Galveston Daily News, on November 5, 1873, reported
that "up to date there have been
Various methods of cor-
relating the available accounts yield
different numbers of victims. For
instance, adding the twelve deaths
chronicled by Dr. Harrison after De-
cember 1 to the 61 said to have died
by that date in The Fayette County
New Era of December 5, 1873 yields
a final count of 73. Adding the 22
victims identified in subsequent edi-
tions to the 40 said to have died "to
date" in The Galveston Daily News
of November 5, 1873 yields a final
total of 62.
Though the News re-
ported that 40 people had died, evi-
Calendar of Yellow Fever Deaths
Columbus, Texas, 1873
Derived from report of Robert Henry Harrison
S M T W T F S Total
2 1 6 6 0 2 1 18
0 2 0 2 1 0 0 5
1 1 3 1 1 1 1 9
1 0 1 00 2 0 4
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 4
1 0 0 0 2 0 0 3
0 3 1 1 1 0 0 6
O 0 0 1 1 1 0 3
1 0 3 1 0 0 0 5
O 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 1 1
dently by November 5, to that point they had identified just 25. Since they had failed
to report individual deaths earlier, it can be assumed that they might have done so later
and that therefore more than 22 people died after November 5. In fact, Dr. Harrison
reports 29 deaths after that date, yielding, when combined with the 40 said to have died
in the newspaper, a final count of 69.
Using the three main sources, augmented by gravestones, probate files, and
other records, and depending on whether the man identified as a German who is said
to have died on November 7 in The Galveston Daily News of November 8, 1873 and the
man said to be a Norwegian, whose death on November 6 is reported in The Fayette
County New Era of November 21, 1873, were the same man, positive identifications for
45 He is uncertain how many people died on October 20, stating that "there were probably three
or four deaths." However, he catalogues only one death on that date, and so only that one has been considered
in determining the final count. Secondly, he says that three people died on the 18th, then chronicles the deaths
of four. In this case, the higher figure has been used in determining the count.
46 Ten of the victims named in the October 24, 1873 issue of the Daily News have been disregarded.
They are identified as "three children of J. Harris, Mrs. Heiskel, Tragan, Foouber, Parker, child of McCoy, Col.
Trainer, land] Louis Baptiste" and said to have been "taken to-day." Other sources record the death of only
one Harris child and of one McCoy child. Since the other six names occur nowhere else, and since the McCoy
child died on October 24 and the Harris child on October 27, it has been assumed that the phrase "taken to-
day" means that the named individuals had become ill, not that they had died.
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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/m1/23/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.