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Yellow Fever Incidents at Memphis.

(From the Indianapolis Journal, July 23.) John Taggart of this city, who has just returned from Memphis, yesterday related to a “ Journal ” reporter a number of incidents in regard to the yellow fever scourge in that city which have a melancholy interest. Mr Taggart lived at Memphis during a considerable part of the epidemic last year. He said : Judge Ray, who was the first to die this year, lived in a beautiful house, apparently in a most healthy situation. There had been a death from yellow fever last year in the Judge’s household, but every possible precaution had been taken in the way of disinfecting and cleansing to prevent a reappearance of the disease. Judge Ray was seized with the fever while pleading at the bench, and was obliged to adjourn Court.

Whatever else may be the cause of yellow fever, I feel sure that the question of dirt or cleanliness has little to do with it. I know every part of the city of Memphis, and its condition this year is one of exceptional cleanliness.. The city was quite as clean as Indianapolis is to-day, and much cleaner than Louisville.

The quarantine against Memphis by the surrounding towns, however necessary it may be, is in itself a dreadful hardship to a great many. Men are stationed on every road all around the towns, with double-barrelled shot guns, and ordered to shoot any person coming from Memphis who attempts to pass them. Families are often divided in this way, and parents and their children are shut off from each other. I had a man in my employ last year who was left in Memphis with one of his children (a little girl a year or two old) when the quarantine was declared. He rode as far as he could on cars, but it was only after walking a long distance across country and risking his life several times that he reached the house where his relatives were stopping, only to bo told that if he came anywhere near the house he would be shot. One of the most distressing features of such an epidemic is the utter callousness with which the dead are treated. People become so hardened that they handle the dead body of a human being with as little respect as they would a dog. Coffins are just slid down flights of stairs like an ordinary express package. When I arrived at Memphis last summer one of the first sights that attracted my attention was a pile of one hundred and fifty coffins, ranged on either side of one of the principal streets ; and I found that the understanding was that everybody came and took a coffin, just as they needed, without asking anybody. The bill of the city u dertaker for bur ing paupers amounted to over 14,000 dols., and the one drug store that kept open all summer made more than 30,000 dols. net profits.

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Yellow Fever Incidents at Memphis. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 21, 13 November 1879

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