Item #010193 1805 – Letter describing the effects of the last Yellow Fever epidemic to strike New York City. Caleb Hopkins to Jeremiah A. Peirson.
1805 – Letter describing the effects of the last Yellow Fever epidemic to strike New York City
1805 – Letter describing the effects of the last Yellow Fever epidemic to strike New York City

1805 – Letter describing the effects of the last Yellow Fever epidemic to strike New York City

New York City to Ramapowrks, New York: 1805. Unbound. This two-page stampless folded letter measures 15½” x 9¾” unfolded. It was sent by Caleb Hopkins in New York City to Jeremiah A Peirson in Ramapoworks, New York. It bears no postal markings other than an annotation that reads, “per Goshen Mail”. Docketing reads, “Letter 8 Septer / 1805 / The fever / Recd”. In nice shape.

Caleb was the New York City business agent for the Pierson Iron Works located in the Ramapo Mountains about 40 miles north of the city. As other residents flee, Caleb reports that

“The alarm on account of the Fever seems to increase a considerable population of the People in Pearl, Water, Front, & South Streets. . .. Ships have removed . . . and many intend to remove to morrow. . .. The removal will not be general until the Banks remove which is expected to be decided on Tuesday. One death, five new cases and two doubtful cases ocurred yesterday – six Deaths of Fever ocurred as I am informed this morning. . .. There is no person sick with Fever . . . one or two cases are stated to have ocurred in Moore St. and have been Sent to the Hospital. . .. The Sloops have generally left. . ..

“I have seen Mr. Colt & his wife who had just crossed the River and are going to Haerlam this evening. I shall . . . make such arrangements to morrow as a temporary absence may require. . ..”

. Very good. Item #010193

Yellow Fever first appeared in New York City via Philadelphia from an epidemic following the arrival of people fleeing the disease in the Caribbean. As it killed one-tenth of all Philadelphians, many fled to New York bringing the disease with them. In the summer of 1795 over 730 people died. It resurged three years later, and 2,000 of New York City’s 35,000 residents perished. The city’s press suppressed news of both epidemics in fear it would create panic and harm commerce. The fever returned in 1803, and after a brief respite raised its head once more in 1805 when it claimed another 270 victims. The reduction of deaths in 1805 is attributed to the newly formed New York City Board of Health which spent $25,000 to quickly quarantine patients at the Marine Hospital on Staten Island, relocated residents from affected areas into temporary facilities, and guarded the evacuees abandoned homes to prevent crime.

The “Goshen Mail” was a stagecoach line that began in 1797 at Hoboken, New Jersey and eventually was extended to Albany. Ramapo was the site of important iron ore deposits first developed by Josiah G. Pierson in 1795. The Piersons also operated a cotton and screw factories, flour mill, and farm.

(For more information, see Levine’s “The 18th-century Yellow Fever pandemic that led to NYC’s first Health Department”, Heaton’s “Yellow Fever in New York City,” Druckman’s “The Yellow Fever Epidemics that Plagued New York City”, the “Isaac G. Pierson and Brothers records” at the Harvard Business School, Roth’s Stage Operations and the Mails in New Jersey, and Hopkins’s Steven Hopkins of the Mayflower and Some of his Descendants, all available online.)

Scarce. At the time of listing, no similar original first-hand accounts are for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub shows that two have been sold at auction. OCLC shows several personal papers collections that may include similar accounts.

.

Price: $500.00