1827 – Calohill Mennis to Thomas Preston of Bedford

“. . . I bought a negro fellow, a Black smith, of a certain William Fosdick. . . . some 15 or 20 years ago he had the fever when he recovered one leg was much longer than the other which always continued—but . . . his leg never seemed to Injure him–when I asked Fosdick if his Leg was worse than it used to be he replyed that it was not but on the contrary better and that he had a recipe that would he had no doubt effect a cure.”

Copy courtesy of Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

1834 – John D. Lewis of Kanawha Salines to Bowker Preston of Bedford

Lewis wrote about the 1834 cholera epidemic, blaming cholera on a slave’s over-eating:

“. . . there have [been] no cases of cholera occurred for the last two days, and I am very much in hopes that the disease has left us, for this season if not forever. . . .

I lost a negro boy two weeks ago from cholera, produced entirely from imprudence in diet. He had been unwell a few days previous to his attack, had taken some medicine, and was apparently restored to perfect health, when he took the advantage of my absence and ate some corn and cucumber with a quantity of milk, which brought on a collapsed stage of cholera. This is the only case that had occurred among my gang, none other approaching even near it.”

Copy courtesy of Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

1834 – L.G. Cabell of Franklin County to Bowker Preston of Bedford

Cabell believed that slaves were ignorant and careless about their health and needed constant oversight.

“One thing I would suggest to you that I think of consequence. The entire ignorance and carelessness of negroes. They will never do right, left to themselves—You lost a little negro boy that might have been saved with the utmost ease. He had a bowel complaint & had been sick for nearly three weeks. Altho about that time I was frequently at the quarters not one word was ever said to me on the subject. Till one morning as I was coming away Old Ned accidentally hinted it to me. I immediately visited the poor little boy & found him dying from a common bowel complaint that the simplest remedy timely given would have effectually cured.”

Copy courtesy of Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

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