Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: Conclusion (part One)

© 2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon

medicine bottles

An entry from Evvy Price’s journal:

Sunday, August 6, 1815

Our lives have been so much fraught with fear and anxiety these last few weeks I hardly know quite where to begin.  Adeline has been truly at death’s door during this time.  Her condition has gone back and forth between raging fever and shivering cold. William rode to Fort Wellington to fetch the army doctor, but he was unable to come, being quite busy treating an outbreak of dysentery.  However, he suggested that Mrs. Randall was quite capable of treating Adeline with blood-letting and lots of heat. Mrs. Randall was horrified with this suggestion. We were quite at loss as to what to do until Arthur overheard us discussing Adeline’s condition. 

“This sounds much like the swamp fever* that many of our troops suffered from in Louisiana.” he said. “  The army doctor there issued us all a package of powder** to add to our grog.  Indians extract it from the bark of a tropical tree and it seemed to work.” He arose immediately and rode back to the Randall homestead to search it out.

Mother was not certain.  Mrs. Randall replied she felt barbaric practices such as blood-;letting would only weaken Adeline further and adding more heat to the already hot cabin would not lower the fever.  She said the Indians had more sensible treatments for many illnesses than the most modern practices of English-trained doctors. 

Arthur and Robert rode back to the farm together.  Robert was very anxious and had to be restrained from going to Adeline’s bedside.  Arthur pressed the package of powder into his mother’s hands and urged her to add it to Adelaide’s broth.  He assured her that he had seen these symptoms leading up to the Battle of New Orleans and urged her to waste no time in treating the disease. 

We had been anxiously watching Charlie and Andrew, as well as little Adam, for possible signs of the same illness, but they seemed content to play and sleep together, only calling for comfort at meals.  We were very relieved to satisfy their thirst with cups of boiled and cooled milk, to which, happily Charlie ‘s now accustomed and Adam, of necessity has taken.  Arthur loves his little lad, but he finds it difficult to look after him now because he is so much more active.  He often expresses his frustration of leaving most of the care of Adam to his mother and father, but he has no confidence in allowing his father-in-law to take it on.  He clearly intends Mr. O’Meara no more contact with his grandson. 

“My darling Kathleen was the best of them, that’s certain,” he told us one day. “I want Adam to make her proud. I don’t trust the lot of them.  Her own family treated her like some maid, aye, worse than a maid by times.”

Oh my, I am that weary.  I will finish this account tomorrow. Just now I will stop in and see how things are with Mother before I go to bed.  She’s been feeing poorly herself, though I expect it’s just the heat.

Evvy

Sunday, August 14, 1815,

We buried Mother in the orchard yesterday beside Victoria.  Now they are together in heaven.  Mother come down with the same fever Adeline has been fighting, but she refused to take any of the powder Arthur brought, and even the same powder Captain Everett Houghton left for us for fear that the babes might become ill or Adeline suffer a relapse.  We tried to put it into her broth, but she refused any, even in her delirium. Father is broken-hearted.

Evvy

*now known as malaria

** Quinine was used to treat malaria until a chemical derivative was developed in the 20th century.

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