NORTH MISSISSIPPI 455 Not all citizens of Holly Springs fled the deadly scourge, a brave few returned to nurse loved ones. two young boys, Edward and William, both under five years old. Minerva promised the dying mother. When the police came to the home to burn all the furnishings, they evicted Minerva and the boys. No one else stepped forward to care for the boys, so Minerva took them into the woods, returning in secret to the abandoned home to scrounge for food. To comfort the young boys, Minerva made crosses of sticks of wood; every morning she would trace a cross on the boys’ breasts, saying “White chillun,’this is all you got to believe in now.” Amazingly, the boys spent several months with Minerva without contracting the illness. Eventually, relatives returned from exile to claim the children, and Minerva remained with the family until her death. All the efforts of heroic volunteers, all the charitable contributions pouring in from across the nation, did not halt the epidemic. It only gradually burned out its fury with the first frosts in early November that killed mosquito larvae. Throughout Mississippi, a total of 16,461 cases were reported with 4,118 deaths. Holly Springs, the hardest hit community in North Mississippi, suffered 1,239 cases with 309 deaths over a period of eight weeks. In the midst of mourning, there was widespread gratitude to the charitable donations and volunteers from across the nation, especially from Yankees. The generous help from former enemies was widely credited with reconciling the North and the South. The Establishment of Mississippi Industrial College With white Democrats in power, African Americans retreated from politics to concentrate on creating their own institutions. The founding of Mississippi Industrial College in Holly Springs in 1905 was the dream of one man, Bishop Elias Cottrell of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. Cottrell was born a slave sometime between 1853 and 1857 in Sylvestria, a small community north of Holly Springs. Cottrell vividly recollected being a slave. One of his strongest memories was being carried to the auction block at four years of age along with his parents and six siblings to be auctioned off to five different buyers. Ironically, he founded the college only four blocks away from the town auction site. As a youth after the war, his piety attracted the attention heart breaking. Fear I have the fever.” With the help of friends, she was able to sneak through the quarantine to Cincinnati but was free of the fever. In Jackson, Kinloch Falconer, the Mississippi Secretary of State, resigned his office to return to his home community. A Confederate veteran, lawyer, editor of the Holly Springs Reporter, and mayor of Holly Springs, Falconer went “right into the jaws of death” to nurse a dying father and sick brother. He succumbed September 23. Local papers celebrated Falconer as “doubly a hero, heroic in war’s carnage, grandly heroic in the carnival pestilence.” Of the remaining population, the majority were African American (about 1,200 of the 1,500 left). In part, this was because African Americans lacked the resources to flee but also because of the popular belief that African Americans possessed a partial immunity to the disease. One estimate lists the death toll as 71.6 percent of the whites infected and 7.4 percent of the African Americans infected. African Americans nursed whites throughout the epidemic. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, sent to visit a maternal grandmother to escape the plague, recalled in her autobiography the heroic efforts of her father nursing victims during the epidemic. Dr. Gray of the Howard Association, an organization of volunteer physicians, told Ida, “your father would be passing through the courthouse, which was used as a hospital, on his way to the [carpentry] shop, carrying some lumber to help make a coffin. If he passed a patient who was out of his head, he would stop to quiet him. If he were dying, he would kneel down and pray with them, then pick up his tools and go on with the rest of his day’s work.” Safe with her relatives, the teenage Wells received a letter sadly reporting the deaths of both her parents in the epidemic. Three days later Wells boarded a freight train, with the caboose draped in black honoring the deaths of the last two conductors. When the surviving conductor warned her of the danger of returning, she asked why he continued to drive the train. He replied it was his duty. She responded that’s why I am going home. “I am the oldest of seven living children. There’s nobody to look after them now. Don’t you think I should do my duty too?” Minerva, the former slave of C. Joseph Herr, remained in the household as a servant and nanny. As the parents contracted the disease, they asked Minerva to care for their