Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 19
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
the serum throughout the population. In all, 103 Alleyton residents were diagnosed with the
disease in September and October. Even a number of local blacks, who usually enjoyed a
relative immunity to yellow fever, were stricken. Eighteen blacks contracted the disease,
four of whom died of it. One family named Tallent suffered most grievously, with six cases
and five deaths. Initially, the sufferers were attended by two local physicians, R. G. Howard
and W. P. Philips. Strangely, though people died on each of September 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10,
the epidemic did not at first alarm the populace. On September 14, three more died. On the
same day, Howard, weary and ready to abandon Alleyton to its fate, wrote Freedmen's
Bureau agent Enon M. Harris asking for authority to convert William Alley's Globe Hotel
into a hospital. Even though the hotel was completely vacant, Alley had refused to allow
Howard to use it. Harris immediately backed Howard, giving him full authority to seize any
uninhabited building in town to use as a hospital, and within a day or two, the physician
began moving his patients into the hotel. However, his ministrations did not last long. He
contracted the disease and died of it on September 21. The next day, Dr. Philips also died of
the fever. Fearful of bringing the disease into town, Columbus had imposed a quarantine
against its neighboring town, forbidding local physicians to go to its aid. One, William
Minor Byars, objected strongly to the quarantine, believing, wrongly, that he would not be
in danger of contracting the disease unless he slept at Alleyton. Despite his appeals, the
quarantine remained in force, and there were no cases of the fever in Columbus. The Howard
Association of Galveston, which was composed of persons who had previously had yellow
fever and had thus developed an immunity to it, sent twelve nurses and one physician, a Dr.
Skinner, to Alleyton. Another physician, Charles H. Bell, took over the hospital in the
Globe Hotel. The disease was at its height in the sixteen day period between September 14
and September 29, when 23 people died. Only seven would die in October. Perhaps ten
more died during November and December, when Alleyton residents, convinced that the
plague had run its course, prematurely returned to their homes from the safer places to
which they had earlier fled. The last two deaths occurred on December 17 and 18, after
which, evidently, the mosquitoes which spread the fever were eliminated by cold weather.
In all, about 45 people died in the epidemic.30
30 Petition of Charles H. Bell Regarding Yellow Fever in Alleyton, January 21, 1870, Memorials and
Petitions, Archives and Records Division, Texas State Library, Austin; Report of Dr. S. W. Welsh in Greensville
Dowell, ed., Yellow Fever and Malarial Diseases Embracing a History of the Epidemics of Yellow Fever in
Texas (Philadelphia, 1876), p. 67; Galveston Daily News, September 20, 1867; Howard Association of Galveston,
Records of the Secretary, 14-0030, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, August 23, 1867 entry. Dr. Skinner was
apparently K. W. Skinner, whose name appears in the Galveston City Directory of 1868-1869.
Though it has often been stated that Alleyton was a larger town than Columbus during the Civil War,
the evidence, including that provided by the reports on the yellow fever epidemic, is all to the contrary. Dr. John
F. Hicks, who is quoted by Welsh in his report on the epidemic, refers to Columbus as "a considerable town,"
and to Alleyton as "a village." Secondly, he states that "nearly every inhabitant" of Alleyton became ill, and that
there were only about 90 cases. If these statements are even close to being true, then clearly Alleyton was a very
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999, periodical, January 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151405/m1/19/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.