August 12, 1851

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Tues Aug 12th  Mrs Thompson & Mrs Holmes his mother are at Mrs Holmes

and I did not stop long this morning but about

three they sent for me to come as quick as I could

She was much worse but by the time I got there

she was better and I stoped untill night & left

her very comfortable.  came home & wrote a letter

to Abby Eaton for her to come there

Harriet Holmes had been bedridden for a week with an acute, unnamed illness.  She was sick enough to require regular care by friends and neighbors, including, most recently, her mother-in-law, Mrs. Holmes, who was brought over from Canton.  Mrs. Holmes, along with a Mrs. Thompson, became worried enough about Harriet’s condition to send for Evelina around three o’clock..

Evelina responded quickly, it would appear, but the crisis was over by the time she got to the Holmes’s. She stayed, however, to be certain that Harriet was, indeed, better.  She returned home after dark and wrote to someone – another relative, perhaps – named Abby Eaton to come and help.

Evelina, Bradford Holmes, and others – with the exception yesterday of an “unfeeling” aunt – had all acted as carefully and expeditiously as possible in tending to Harriet. Mr. Holmes drove a team of oxen to fetch help for his wife and Evelina wrote a letter to summon a relative, which was the best they could do. Their options were slow and terribly limited.

Today we see medical care, especially emergency care, in terms of how quickly a condition may be addressed, or how many minutes it takes for help to arrive. In 1851, it was a matter of hours,even days sometimes, before help could arrive.  How skilled the help was and how effective the treatment was another big question. In Harriet Holmes’s case, no one tending her was professionally trained. They were caring but powerless. Harriet Holmes would get better, or she wouldn’t; modern medicine and first responders would have nothing to do with the outcome.

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