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Greeting to all, and thanks for visiting,

In this post and video, I discuss some of the major topics I talked about at my booth, Plagues, And Diseases, during the First Annual Tallahassee History Festival on March 26, 2022, which was held at the Kleman Plaza in downtown Tallahassee.

I  focused on yellow fever in Florida and discussed Jacksonville’s first black doctor, Dr. Alexander Darnes (see below), a former slave, was freed, schooled in medicine, and earned his MD.  He went on to treat yellow fever patients from 1887 to 1888 yellow fever outbreaks in Jacksonville, Florida.  I also talked about Europe’s plagues and told tales of the famous plague doctor, Der Doctor Schnabel von Rom, a.k.a. Dr. Beak, and of his scaring village children as he made his rounds.

And I  spoke on  Civil War medicine at The First Battle of Manassas (July 21, 1861).  I am published on the medical care during that battle, via the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. I also discussed the role of ice in medical care, starting with Fredrick Tutor of Boston and his Tudor Ice company (1805), along with Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, Florida, and his treatment of yellow fever and malaria with his 1840s air-cooling and ice making machine, which was patented in 1851. And there were discussions on the importance of historic preservation. Additionally, I touched on the history of institutional racism within the medical community and a few other topics on racism, which I have written about.  (Links to all of these topics are below.)

It was a fun day with many questions on the history of medicine. I did my best to answer them. Many visitors shared their own historical stories. Being a veteran, and displaying my navy flag,  many other veterans stopped over to swap military tales.

I sold a few yellow fever books and a few of my own papers, which I had bound into books and pamphlets. And I sold custom Dr. Beak coffee mugs. They went quickly   Caty Green of Apalachicola Historical bought the first mug, and  Mr. Bob Holiday of Tallahassee Historical Society requested the second mug. (For mug photo, see the bottom of the page.)

Thanks to all who visited my booth, especially all the Tallahassee Community College students who stopped over to chat.

I want to say a thank you to the Tallahassee Community College and the Tallahassee Historical Society for allowing me to attend the event. I hope to see all of you at next year’s event.

Thanks for watching!


If you have any questions comments, please leave them below


Dr. Alexander Darnes

The information on Dr. Darnes is not my own.  It is from s from

Portrait of courage: This former slave helped save a city

Alexander Darnes, born a slave, was the first African-American doctor in Jacksonville. He proved himself a hero during the yellow fever outbreak of 1887 to 1888, treating and comforting victims as the rich abandoned the city. Courtesy of St. Augustine historical society.
Alexander Darnes, born a slave, was the first African-American doctor in Jacksonville. He proved himself a hero during the yellow fever outbreak of 1887 to 1888, treating and comforting victims as the rich abandoned the city. Courtesy of St. Augustine historical society.

“Amidst the tragedy and fear of this lethal disease, heroes emerged. Born a slave in 1840 St. Augustine, Aleck grew up in the home of Judge Joseph Lee Smith, where he was taught to read and write, although it was illegal. At age 15, Aleck became a valet for the judge’s youngest son, Edmund Kirby Smith, a West Point graduate and captain in the U.S. 2nd Cavalry stationed in Texas. Aleck, whose mother was also enslaved in the Smith home, may have been Edmund’s half-brother or nephew.

Aleck and Edmund were inseparable for more than a decade. Aleck served Captain Smith from the First Battle of Bull Run to the western frontier, where General Smith, by then a Confederate military leader, surrendered in Galveston, Texas, at the end of the Civil War. In July 1865, fearful of being hanged for treason, General Smith fled to Cuba. Smith later became a professor of mathematics and botany at Sewanee, University of the South.

After Emancipation, Aleck became Alexander Hanson Darnes, free to follow his undanced dreams. With the financial assistance of Frances Smith Webster, General Smith’s sister, Darnes graduated from Lincoln University and earned a medical degree from Howard University.

The former slave made history as Jacksonville’s first Black physician and proved himself a hero during the city’s terrible outbreak of yellow fever in 1887–88. As the rich abandoned the city, the fearless doctor treated and comforted the victims.

Statues depicting a late-in-life reunion of Professor Edmund Kirby Smith and Dr. Alexander Darnes have stood since 2004 in the courtyard of the family’s former home, the Segui-Kirby Smith House in St. Augustine, now the site of the St. Augustine Historical Society’s research library. Descendant Maria Kirby- Smith sculpted the two figures.

In 2018, the Florida Legislature voted to remove General Kirby Smith’s statue from Statuary Hall in the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where it had stood since the 1920s. It will be replaced by one of Mary McLeod Bethune, the daughter of ex-slaves and a prominent educator.

Amidst today’s debates over Confederate monuments and who belongs on the pedestal, Alexander Darnes provides a stirring role model, reminding us that honor depends upon character, dignity, and decency, not station or inheritance. The doctor led a life of purpose and understood the power of love and redemption, heroic qualities. Some 3,000 people, Black and white, attended Darnes’ funeral in 1894. It was said to be the largest such gathering held in the city up to that time.”


I also discussed an early 1899 yellow fever  immunization card  seen below.

For more info on this see 

I  also recommend looking at

Here are a few few  primary source illustrations that I discussed,

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper 1878-09-21_Vol 47

Yellow Fever _ Shall We Let Him In Leslie’s Illustrated sept 21 1878 p 48.


Image from “Invisible Little Worms”
Athanasius Kircher’s Study of the Plague
By John Glassie 

For information on the plague doctors see 


Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper 1878-09-21_Vol 47

Below are some yellow fever death statistics

Above chart and its associated article can be found at:  History of Mosquitoborne Diseases in the United States and Implications for New Pathogens.  


I also discussed a few of my papers which I had  in book form and some of my videos,

The Tangled Web Of Civil War Medicine

First Battle of Manassas: Unwarranted Deaths of Savable Men

What is Historic Preservation?

Dr. John Gorrie: The birth of Refrigeration and Frederic Tudor: Natural Ice Trade

The Civil War, The Ice Trade, And the Rise of the Ice Machine

Hippocrates Weeps: Institutional Racism within the American Medical Establishment

Whose Democracy? Racism, Black Soldiers, and the Medal of Honor

Power of the Hero Image: The Uniform, The Black Soldier and the Ku Klux Klan

The First Black Regiment in the Revolutionary War, The First Rhode Island Regiment -1778

Photos from the fair.

email me If you want a mug.

If you have any question please email me [email protected]

Thanks for stopping over!