Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878

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The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 prompted a strict quarantine in central Arkansas against infected areas of the lower Mississippi Valley.

The epidemic began in New Orleans on August 3, 1878, and worked its way up to Memphis on the Mississippi River by August 13th. The next day the Little Rock Board of Health banned transportation into the city aboard the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad. The railroad company did not comply with the order, and city officials were forced to stop the train at Galloways' station about ten miles northeast of Little Rock. All 130 passengers were forced into a twenty-one day quarantine. Rail travel was also prohibited along the Poplar Bluff and Cairo Railway, as well as the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway. Steamboat travel was also subsequently stopped along the Arkansas River.

No deaths were reported in the city in 1878, compared with fourteen deaths in the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1873. Alexander Hager vowed that he would use his money to start a hospital if the city was spared from the disease in 1878. In the 1880s funds from his estate helped found the Catholic Charity Hospital (now St. Vincent's) in Little Rock.


Roscoe Greene Jennings, "The Quarantine at Little Rock, Arkansas, During August, September, and October 1878, Against the Yellow Fever Epidemic in Memphis and the Mississippi Valley," Public Health: Papers and Reports 4 (1880): 223.

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