A Heroine


The “Heroine” of the Lazaretto’s 1870 Yellow Fever Epidemic


September 14, 1870

A HEROINE AT THE Lazaretto. - We take the following from the Woman’s Department of the Phila. SUNDAY DISPATCH: 'It is eminently proper that women should record the doings and the sufferings of sister women in the cause of humanity. Therefore it with great pride and pleasure that we hold up to public honor and esteem the name of Mrs. Mary Riddle. This good woman (an elegant and accomplished lady) lost a friend with the yellow fever, which has been so fatal at the Lazaretto. Upon visiting that place to attend the funeral of her friend, she found the place to be in the greatest confusion. The resident physician was dead, the subordinates were all utterly demoralized and in a state of anarchy and rebellion against the improvised authorities. This lady (a widow) had an aged mother and little children; yet, with a self devotion and humanity rarely emulated - never excelled - she resolved to remain there, and, if possible, bring order out of chaos. This she did, taking the command of the corps of mercenaries hastily placed there by the Board of Health, most of the time herself cooking for over thirty persons, ordering, administering and rendering herself invaluable everywhere. She remained until she though the danger was over, and then returned to her home and her family, bearing with her the seeds of that most terrible disease. After a few days she was stricken down with it, and for a time her life was despaired of. Happily, however, she is now convalescent. [from orig. Sunday Dispatch 11 Sept. 1870, omitted from Delco American: Good friends!  readers of the Dispatch! do you think any man of you all would be capable of such courage, such self-devotion, towards those bound to you by no ties of blood or of friendship?  We can answer--Not one!  You may boast of your acts of heroism, and of your deeds of daring; but it requires a nobler heroism, a more sublime courage than any man is possessed of, to risk life at the sick-bed of strangers, leaving, with full faith, dear and dependent ones in the merciful hands of God.]  All honor to Mrs. Riddle, and to others like her, who, in times of public danger and calamity, can put aside thoughts of peril to themselves and to those they love, and regard all suffering men and women as brothers and sisters, children of the same great Father, loving care is over all His works.'