A Lively Experiment

Notes on collections and events at the RIHS

A Tale of Typhoid

Excerpts from the diary of a Providence lawyer, John C. Pegram, concerning his daughter, Virginia Austin.

John Combe Pegram

John Combe Pegram, undated.

Monday May 2, 1892

Saturday afternoon I went to my daughter in Boston and returned this morning. In the beginning of last week her symptoms became alarming, and it was impossible to determine their cause. For several day her physician diagnosed nervousness, hysteria, etc., but she grew worse, with confused ideas, hallucinations, indistinct speech, high fever, [   ] pulse etc., until the middle of the week when Dr. Millar went again to see her & suggested typhoid. Friday Dr. Porter of Boston was called in consultation with Dr. Williams and they both thought that it was typhoid but they were not certain. Saturday Dr. Miller went with me and all three doctors connected and were still non convinced of typhoid, and of the gravity and critical nature of the case. I stayed over Sunday and on that day all three of the doctors saw her again and agreed in their former view. Sunday night, while my child was extremely ill, Dr. Williams was very hopeful, thought the crisis of the fever had been passed and that the chance of recovery were increased, with so much professional care, and its constant attention of her mother and two excellent nurses, I hope and almost believe that she will “pull thro” but she has a long illness ahead of her yet. I am afraid. My dear friend Dr. Robert Millar is going to see her again this afternoon, and I trust to better accounts of her when he returns tonight. I am obliged to stay here today & tomorrow, unless I am sent for but I hope to go again Wednesday for the night.

Excerpt of John Combe Pegram's diary (MSS 614), 1892.

Excerpt of John Combe Pegram’s diary (MSS 614), May 2, 1892.


Monday May 9, 1892

Last Monday afternoon at 4:10 I received from Dr. Millar who had gone to Boston in the 2pm train a telegram saying “Symptoms alarming, come at once”, I ran to the 4:20 train & so reached Boston soon after 5:30 and found my dear daughter much changed since the day before. I watched her though the night expecting her death at any time, Dr. Millar also staid through til next day. She lived until 8:30 Tuesday morning when she died peacefully in the presence of her mother, father & husband and with our dear old friend and physician Robert Millar holding her wrist and telling us when all was over.

Diary excerpt 2, typhoid

Excerpt of John Combe Pegram’s diary (MSS 614), May 9, 1892.


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This entry was posted on 24 February 2016 by in Collection Notes and tagged , , , , .

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