|NEW ORLEANS DAILY PICAYUNE
Wednesday, October 14, 1863
Destitution and Death - A Mother and Her Child - A miserable room in an old tenant house, far down on
Royal street, was the scene of a sad death on Monday night. The victim was a young mother, said to be
twenty-two years of age, but apparently not over twenty. On her face the hues of beauty still lingered;
and her forehead, yet damp with the kiss of the pale messenger, was smooth and white if just chiseled in
virgin marble, when the Coroner went to inquire "how and in what manner she came to her death."
The story of poor Mary Anderson was found to be a sad one. Separated months ago form the husband
of her youthful days by the chances of the cruel war which now exists, she lived on in destitution, hoping
almost against hope that the day of reunion would soon arrive. Under the pressure of absolute want her
household goods were, one by one, sacrificed on the altar of Necessity, and sick and sad, six weeks ago
she wended her weary way to the Charity Hospital, there to become a homeless mother.
After she had been in the hospital ten days, cared for kindly, as all are cared for in that noble institution,
the low wail of an infant was heard by her side, and a mother's kiss was imprinted on a young daughter's
brow. But the birth - once fervently prayed for as the pledge of a faithful love - could scarcely then be
looked upon as a source of self gratulation or of joy. The grim spectre, want, stared at her, even in her
dreams. Scarcely able to provide for her own necessities, how should she be able to provide properly for
the new charge which had come to her - a constant claimant on her maternal care? Of all this she
thought, as she lay with her child on the charity couch, surrounded by the sick and destitute, for in the
immediate future her poor reason could discern no gleam of light. At time, however, hope would reassert
its supremacy, and looking forward she could anticipate bright days, when joy-bells would again ring in
her ears, and the merry laughter of her child would sound as a reproof to the despondency she felt when
the season of sorrow was upon her.
At length she was sufficiently recovered to leave the Hospital, and she went away, bearing with her her
only treasure - the young immortal whom God had intrusted [sic] to her care. Finding as small room at a
low rent, she removed, there with such scanty furniture as she still possessed, and lived there until she
died. On Sunday and Monday last she was quite unwell. Yesterday morning her door was not opened at
its usual hour, and the women who lived in the same yard, hearing the cries of the child, burst the door
open and entered. The sight they beheld was one that might touch the heart of cruelty itself. There was
the young mother, pale, cold, yet still beautiful in death, and there was the child, striving to obtain the
sustenance which nature demanded from her milkless, pulseless breast. Around were scattered a chair,
a plain deal table, a cup. a plate, but not a particle of food! Surrounded by these evidences of destitution
the poor mother breathed her last - alone unless the angels came and whispered in her ears. And the
child she left - what of it? Its history must yet be written. Hard indeed would the heart be that would
hope for it a goal no brighter than that of its poor mother, now departed.
The jury of inquest returned a verdict attributing the death to congestive fever, and after the remains of
the young mother were borne away, the "narrow house", which admits no distraint [sic] for rent the child
was taken by some of the neighbors, who cared for it as best they could.
|Mary Anderson Newspaper Report