Archives of the
New Orleans -
Santa Fe District

Yellow Fever and the Christian Brothers in New Orleans

When yellow fever struck New Orleans in the 1850's and 1860's and took over 11,000 victims,1 the fledgling Christian Brother communities were not spared. The first victim to fall was Brother Gelisaire in 1852. The mosquito-born virus claimed three more Brothers in 1853, and by 1866 a total of ten Brothers had succumbed to the disease. The years between 1866 and 1868 were particulary deadly, as nineteen Brothers died of the fever. Members of the community of St. Mary's College in Galveston, TX, unable to return home due to a quarantine, proceded to St. Mary's in Pass Christian, MS, where three died in 1867. The school in Galveston was closed that very year2.

Heroines Come to the Aid of the Brothers and New Orleans

Statue of Margaret HaugheryFour New Orleans women are honored as affiliated members of the Christian Brothers in gratitude for their assistance during the yellow fever epidemic. These women are Miss Catherine Aitkens, Madame Roselle Colquhoun, Miss Mary Evans, and Mrs. Margaret Gaffney Haughery. In addition to their tireless nursing and care of the Brothers, three of these women provided financial assistance. Mrs. Margaret Gaffney Haughery, widowed at the age twenty-one, spent nearly fifty years at the service of the Brothers and the poor of New Orleans, regardless of race or creed. She opened St. Vincent de Paul Infant Assylum and supported her endeavors by selling milk and managing a bakery. A statue of her was erected at the intersection of Camp and Prytania Streets in New Orleans to honor her exemplary faith, dedication and generosity.3 See Links below.

Brothers Cassian, Charles Henry, Raphael Bodin, and Leo Harvey at the Brothers' Monument in St. Patrick's Cemetery, NO The monument to Brother victims of yellow fever in Pass Christian, MS

Above, left - On August 9, 1965, Brother Cassian Lange, Brother Charles Henry (former Superior General), Brother Raphael Bodin (former Visitor), and Brother Leo Harvey, (Archivist) pose in front of the newly dedicated monument to the deceased Brothers including yellow fever victims buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery, New Orleans. Above, right - The monument honoring the Brothers buried in St. Paul's Cemetery, Pass Christian, MS. These Brothers died from yellow fever.

Selected Margaret Gaffney Haughery Links

1Ralph E. Thayer, "New Orleans," World Book Online America's Edition,, March 13, 2003.
2Gabriel, Brother Angelus. The Christian Brothers in the United States 1848-1948. New York: The Delcan X. McMullen Company, Inc., 1948. 220-223.