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THIS THEN – NOW -- 1822, 1826, 1828, 2020 Epidemic – Pandemic – Bad Air

Time past and time present are both perhaps present in time future and time future contained in time past  (T.S. Eliot)


Yellow Fever

Gold dust /  Pickled Apple peel suspended in laudanum  / Hot mustard baths / leeches applied to the throat and chest


The Corona Virus:  Covid 19

Oluminant /  Hydroxychloroquine  /  Favipiravir / Remdesivir

but not a shot of chlorox



            In 1822, 1826, and again in 1828, the Yellow Fever epidemic decimated the population of the city of Blakeley, now a part of Blakeley State Park.  Called “Bad Air,” no one knew then the disease was caused by mosquitoes.  Some say that Mobile physician, Dr. Josiah Clark Nott suspected so and noted the sickness in papers written in 1848.  Quarantines were adopted though some residents of Blakeley escaped to Mobile where the air was considered efficacious.  

            The technical, scientific name for Yellow Fever is Coquillettidia fuscopennata (don’t worry, I can’t pronounce it either), but it was also called “Yellow Jack” and in New Orleans, Bronze John.”  And like Covid 19, it was a killer.


            In 1853, Alabama’s 15th Governor, John A. Winston, officially instituted “The Can’t Get Away Club” to help care for those who were ill and dying of the Fever. Like the Corona Virus, it was no respecter of the prominent, the young, the old, the rich or the poor; there were too few physicians and fever nurses.   Price Williams was then the organization’s President. One memorable nurse was August Evans Wilson (1835-1909) who helped establish a small hospital on the outskirts of Mobile.  Today, she is probably best known as the author of the novel, Beulah, based in part on the bedside experience of her nursing career.


            Now, in 2020, as we experience social distancing and the ravages of a world pandemic, we are, I think, brought to remember the ghost-town that once was a prominent part of our local history and of Blakeley State Park and think once more of how a disease alters the landscape of the world in which we live.

Showing 1 Comment
Avatar  Claire Datnow 3 years ago

Thank you for the intriguing historic perspective on the cycle of pandemics.I look forward to reading more of your work.

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