lafourche parish, Newspaper articles, yellow fever

The scourge of yellow fever

Remember that scene in “Gone With the Wind” in which Scarlett and Melanie are reading through the list of killed soldiers? The Tarleton twins are on the list, but thankfully – for Scarlett and Melanie – Ashley isn’t.

I think about that scene every time I see a list of yellow fever deaths in a historic Louisiana newspaper. In the 1800s, newspapers were probably your best avenue of information. No phones. No internet. Just the Post Office and newspapers.

The Baltimore Sun reported this in 1853:

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Indeed, the Thibodaux Minerva in that same year revealed that yellow fever deaths were a big seller:

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Think about it. In less than two months’ time, there were 224 burials in Thibodaux. I doubt you’d want to go visiting with that much death. You relied on the newspaper for news of who had succumbed.

That same Oct. 1, 1853, issue of the Thibodaux Minerva contains a sad tribute to 4-year-old Margaret Ann Guyther, the daughter of Margaret V. White and James A. Guyther. Little Margaret Ann died on Sept. 7 of yellow fever. Making her death really sad is that her sisters Malvina and Caroline died shortly before her. Their parents buried three children in a brief span.

More victims are listed below:

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