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November 3-5, 1863

Tuesday, November 3, 1863.

ng [dying] i went down and staid with her she died last night about 7 oclock she died very calm she was ready Alfred did not get to see her very long all day cleaning up the house

Wednesday 4

mary J and I poor Mary is to be buried to day no word of Alfred Poor little Frank is left an orphan Mr Gibbs attended the funral Frank went home

Thursday 5

and fixed the thinghs Nell mrs sisco and […] And ther mother were there i went to hazards to day they seem to simpythize with me I have


Annotation 1

Alfred’s wife, Mary Davis, died on November 2, 1863 of “consumption of the lungs.”

Five days after her husband reported for the U.S. Navy, Mary Davis died, leaving little Frank’s future undetermined.  Sick since July, Emilie’s sister-in-law Mary died of “consumption of lungs,” according to her death certificate, on November 2.  Described as a general “wasting or consumption of tissue,” most often causing the infected to cough up blood and mucus.  Webster’s New International Dictionary, Reference History Edition (Springfield, MA: G&C Merriam Company, 1910).   According to Dr. George B. Woods, writing in 1858, tuberculosis was often caused by “insufficient food, confinement, want of fresh air and exercise, habitual exposure to cold, sensual excesses, great loss of blood or other depletion.”  Woods noted that in colder climates, tuberculosis affected the young, between four and thirteen years, and the elderly, and he remarked that “[n]egroes are, in this climate, more disposed to the disease than the whites.”  George B. Wood, M.D., Treatise on the Practice of Medicine, Part II, 5th ed. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott And Co., 1858, 115-119.

Annotation 2

On December 7, EJ turned over custody and care of seven-year old Frank to the Association for the Care of Colored Orphans. After his mother’s death and his father’s departure, this might have been Frank’s best chance to go to school, or alternately, the “shelter,” as it was called, bound children out to work. Frank Davis, December 7, 1863, Association for the Care of Colored Orphans Records, 1822-1979 (Record Group 4/008), ser. 3, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.


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