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Kate Stone’s Civil War: The fevers

July 16, 2012

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, the daughter of Louisiana cotton plantation owners who chronicled her turbulent life throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Throughout late August 1861, Stone offered a glimpse at the seasonal dangers of rural life that were tragically normal for a 19th century family. The Stones and their neighbors probably suffered from malaria.

Aug. 24

Did not reach home until nearly ten, much to the surprise of the family who had given us out. Ashburn was to have been with me but I left him sick at Vicksburg. Such an unhealthy season. Everybody in the house, but Brother Coley, has been sick since I left, and I was in bed nearly a week. It has been raining for three weeks and is cool enough for fall. Mr. McRae fears it will make the cotton crop light.

Chainey died of paralysis a few days ago. The place must indeed seem like a graveyard to the poor Negroes so many deaths since we moved here. Clearing land and digging ditches may make it worse now.

Aug. 25

Mrs. Hardison and the baby both have fever, and Josa and the rest of the family look as if there was not an ounce of red blood between them the whitest, weakest looking set of people. … Aunt Sarah complains so much of loneliness and is so afraid to be alone that I would have remained longer with her, but I was anxious about Mamma and the boys. There is so much sickness.

Aug. 28

I have slight chills and fevers and am being dosed on bitters and drugs of varied meanness. There is danger of
congestion or swamp fever at this season.

Aug. 30

Mamma and I, after knitting awhile, went to work on the boys’ uniform shirts. I did the machine stitching, but Mamma soon broke down and went to bed with a chill. Johnny was tossing with fever. …

Sept. 17

We fear Ashburn, Jimmy, and Johnny all have whooping cough. Ashburn must have taken it in Vicksburg, though he had it when a little fellow. There are seventeen little cribs of Negroes to have it in the quarters and Mamma dreads it getting among them. Thus the house is under strict quarantine.

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