Beginning September 16, the City of Shreveport is going to remember a part of Shreveport’s history that changed its future. In 1873, a deadly Yellow Fever Epidemic killed one-quarter of the city’s population. During these few short weeks were amazing acts of bravery and selflessness mixed in with the fear and despair. Sept. 16- Nov. 19 will be your opportunity to join in the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Yellow Fever Epidemic. Come to the talks, the concerts and to the very special The Merciful Frost Victorian Banquet, the event celebrating the end of the epidemic.

Tickets to this once-in-150-year banquet are available now and are extremely limited.

Menu for The Merciful Frost Dinner

In the late summer and early fall of 1873 in Shreveport, one-quarter of the population succumbed to Yellow Fever. The fever, which was carried and transmitted by mosquitos, had no cure and the only ‘treatment’ was copious bloodletting, a practice that likely only hastened the patient’s demise.

The scourge finally began to diminish as the temperatures became cooler, and by November of 1873, the epidemic, which was the third worst  in recorded U.S. history, was over. On November 18, The Times newspaper printed a complete roll of the dead.

Though a grim chapter in our history, ‘The Merciful Frost’ that brought an end to the mosquitos and the fever they carried, was celebrated. The ravage was over, and those who survived had reason to be relieved and happy. They had survived!

A Victorian dinner gathering.

To celebrate the ‘Merciful Frost’, The Shreveport DDA has partnered with The Noble Savage Shreveport to present The Merciful Frost Victorian Dinner on Sunday, November 19 from 6 pm- 9 pm. The dinner will have all the trappings of the Victorian era, and the chefs at TNS have put together an 8-course meal that would have been commonly experienced by Victorians 150 years ago.

There will be only one banquet-style seating and tickets will be very limited.  Tickets for the 8-course dinner are $75 each and The Noble Savage will also offer a per-course drink pairing for an additional $25.

Dress for a Victorian dinner and come prepared to be transported back in time. During the course of the evening, you will be entertained, you will hear the story of the ‘Merciful Frost’, you may even have the opportunity to meet some true Victorian ‘ladies’. Just watch your pockets!

Here is more about the 150th Commemoration scheduled to begin on Sept. 16-

Plans are underway for the 150th anniversary commemoration of a turning point in Shreveport’s history- the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic.  In 12 weeks during that late summer into early fall of 1873, 25% of the population of the city died from mosquito-borne Yellow Fever. The deaths caused panic and great fear. Those who could left the city. Others were trapped when roads and rail lines leaving the city were blocked. Rumors of the cause of the outbreak ran wild, the local economy ceased to function. It was unlike anything most had ever experienced; it became known as the third worst recorded epidemic of its type in the United States.

Fumigating the town. A scene on Texas Street.

It was also a time of great bravery and selflessness.

From late August until early November, people of Shreveport succumbed to the ‘Yellow Jack’ in their beds and on the streets. They were tended to by doctors and nurses, by men and women of the cloth, and by a young Lt. in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Eugene Augustus Woodruff. The 31-year-old Woodruff died in his efforts to help, as did most others.

The Yellow Fever mound plaque will be replaced with a large permanent memorial.

Beginning October 1, the City of Shreveport will be remembering this time in our history with Masses, musical performances, a symposium, a Victorian dinner, and the public dedication of the Yellow Fever Mass Grave Memorial at Oakland Cemetery, the site of the mass burial site.

Many of the events planned from Sept. 16  through Nov. 19 will be free and open to the public, some will be ticketed events. All will be a fascinating glimpse into 1873 in Shreveport, our history and heroes.  

Here is the Yellow Fever Anniversary Facebook page.

The Yellow Fever Commemoration Website.