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Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg


Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg, an Austro-German traveler, visited Memphis a few months after the 1878 Yellow Fever epidemic.

He described his mixed reactions to the city in his memoir Travels on the Lower Mississippi.

He wrote, “After traveling to the four corners of the world, I cannot remember impressions anywhere as disagreeable as those upon entering this Memphis.

"There was the rain that trapped the smoke and the gloom and held them captive within the city’s walls, and the foot deep mire creeping down the slopes toward the Mississippi. In all the dull faces we thought we could read 'Yellow Fever.'

"Next morning the sun of the South shone warm through our window and lit up our world. What a difference from the day before! A short stroll through the city now showed us new marvels at every step. Of the epidemic? Not a trace. 


"A mere three or four months previously, Memphis could still count scarcely half its 40,000 people. Of the 20,000, at least 19,000 lay sick; and in the end, 5,000 went to the grave. Yet Memphis has more people than ever. The epidemic’s last trace has vanished.”

To learn more about all of our region’s history, you can visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or on their Facebook page, or at http://www.memphismuseums.org.

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