Dear Mother, I am at Bush Hill…

Laurie Halse Anderson conducted extensive research in writing her novel, Fever 1793.  As a piece of historical fiction, Fever, 1793 contains many allusions to real people and places that are important to telling the story of Philadelphia in the late summer and early fall of 1793.  The article Yellow Fever Attacks Philadelphia provides a primary source which authors use to write both historical fiction and informational text.  A primary source is an account written by someone who actually experienced the events.  A secondary source is written by someone who has researched the events, but who was not present during the events.   Read the above article, noticing people and places with which you are familiar from the novel.   Think about the words of Samuel Breck, a Philadelphia merchant who lived in the city during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793.

Laurie Halse Anderson uses primary sources in her epigraphs.  They come from letters, journal entries, or newspaper articles written during the Fever.  After reading the words of Mr. Breck, and thinking of the experiences of Mattie, write a letter that Mattie might pen from Bush Hill to her mother at the Coffee Shop.  Use descriptive writing to give the reader a good idea of what Matie sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels.

Don’t forget to take the quiz on PhotoPeach to refresh your memory for some historical details you may want to include in your letter.


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42 thoughts on “Dear Mother, I am at Bush Hill…

  1. Dearest Mother,

    Grandfather and I did not make it to the Ludington’s farm, but we have had quite an adventure. We were kicked out of a carriage and abandoned on the side of the rode. Then, I had to use my petticoat to try and catch some fish, and that didn’t work. Finally, I caught Yellow Fever, but, as you can see, I didn’t die. How are you doing?

  2. Dear Mother,
    Terrible things have happened, we never arrived to the levington’s because at the towns borders grandfather was sick and they kicked us out of the wagon. Now we are at Bush Hill, it is a hospital now and I have yellow fever. It isn’t that bad so don’t worry. Grandfather is doing better and I hope you are too. I love you mom and I miss you.
    This is what I thought Mattie might right to her mom.
    What would you do if you got yellow fever?

  3. Dear Mother,
    I did not make it to Gwyneed . Instead I’m at Bush Hill in a hospital. I am infected with yellow fever. I hope to get better and go to the Gwyneed. How are you doing ? I will be better soon.
    I love and miss you.
    *Mattie (a.k.a Lauren)

  4. Dear Mother,
    I am at Bush Hill Hospital, founded by Mr. Stephen Girard. I hope you are well and can soon join us. Yes, Bush Hill , the criminal’s haven, has become a fine hospital. The doctors here speak French, which of course I do not understand, but they are doing a splendid job. Grandfather is fairly well and energetic, and is helping Mrs. Flagg, my nurse, with all the petty tasks to be completed in a hospital.
    Yours truly,
    Mattie (Maria)

    • My dearest Mattie,
      Your letter has calmed my soul. I have been worrying about you night and day since you left the Coffee Shop. How I wish I could be with you. I’m glad you are being well cared for, but no one can replace one’s mother in times of need. I would like to comfort you myself, although perhaps that is selfish on my part as I don’t know much of what to do to fight this disease. If, as you say, the French doctors are doing a splendid job, then perhaps Dr. Rush is as much in the dark as I am. I pray this pestilence will pass soon and that we will again be with each other in good health, drinking coffee and eating Eliza’s gingerbread. Until then, you are in my constant prayers.
      With all my love,

  5. Dear Mother,
    I am at Bush Hill hospital. Grandfather and I never made it to Gwynedd estate because they threw us out of the carriage. They also took all of our belongings.Grandfather and I are not feeling well. Grandfather is coughing a lot and I have the fever. There are so many bugs outside and it extremely humid. I hear the postal service is not doing well. Hopefully this letter will get to you in time

  6. Dear Mother,
    I am at Bush Hill Hospital. I did not make it to the Ludingtons, because Grandfather was coughing, hot, his hands were stiff, and he didn’t feel well. In that matter the farmer thought he had the fever so he kiked us off the wagon taking our food and clothes. Then I passed out and woke up in Bush Hill Hospital.The doctors say I have the fever, but it’s not to bad. Ilove you and miss you.

    • Dear Mattie,
      I am so grateful to receive your note, but I am exceptionally worried about both you and Grandfather. You don’t mention Grandfather’s health; has he contracted the Fever as well? How are the doctors treating you? I have not heard good news about Bush Hill. Are you safe? Rumor has it that criminals are wreaking havoc on the ill, as if they aren’t suffering enough already. If you are able, get to the Ludington’s quickly. I won’t rest until I know you are safe with friends until we can be together again.
      May God protect you,

  7. Dear Mother,

    I am currently at Bush Hill. I fainted on my way to give grand pappy some food. He picked me right up and carried me to Bush Hill. There I am resting in the Bush Hill hospital. But, I have Yellow Fever. I hope you are doing better.


  8. Dear Mother,

    I am writing to you from Bush Hill. I have unfortunately contracted the dreadful disease that is known as yellow fever. The pain that I am experiencing in my head, legs, and back is unbearable. My whole body is burning because the fever I am encountering and the heat outside is just making it feel worse. These feelings went away for a bit, making me think I was doing better, but this disease deceives you. Not long after I thought I was doing well, it came back. It was even more harrowing than before leaving bright crimson stains on the bed sheets.

    Much love,

  9. Dear Mother,

    I am at Bush Hill. The doctors here speak a different language so I can’t understand but they are good doctors. Grandpap is not doing the best but decent. I hope you get this letter soon. I miss you.



  10. Dear Mother,
    I’m in Bush Hill and I never made it to Gwynedd. We never made it to Gwynedd because we fell out of the wagon. Where at the Bush Hill hospital cause Grandpa isn’t feeling well he is coughing, as a fever and his hands are stiff. Hope to see you soon.

  11. Dear Mother,

    I am staying at bush hill hospital, because I suspected Grandfather was getting sick. He had the chills, and coughed a lot. We never made it to the Ludington’s, because the carriage carrying us thought grandfather had yellow fever. After we were thrown off, I passed out, and woke up at bush hill. I have yellow fever, sadly, but it is not as bad as yours,

    With love,


  12. Dear Mother,
    Grandfather and I have gotten placed in Bush Hill Hospital because I have gotten Yellow Fever. He became sick while on the ride and we were kicked out, the soldiers thought we were victims. As I cared for grandfather I gradually became unwell as I tried to provide us with food, water, and warmth. The hardship of finding plentiful and nourishing food was what made me ill, I imagine. The lack of suitable water made me weaker until I finally fainted. I woke up miraculously in Bush Hill (to my horror), and was cared for by a pleasant nurse. Grandfather got back his strength and I was told he was in good health. When my nurse gave me the broth for me to eat, it was like haven. I was so famished from the previous days. The warm fluid slid down my throat as Grandfather walked in. I can not walk at this moment, but when I am capable I will entirely do so and come home.
    I have been distressing about you and Eliza and I utterly wish you are doing more than well. When I come back I will do everything to save you and I will work as hard as I can. I love you and Eliza and I don’t want anything to happen to you two.

  13. Dear Mother,
    I am unfortunetly at Bush Hill hospital, I caught Yellow Fever. I had not been feeling well and I passed out. I don’t think Grandfather is feeling well either. He is coughing a lot and doesn’t look or feel good. I didn’t end up going to Gweynedd. I hope we start to feel better. Do you think you can make it here soon? I love and miss you.
    ~ Mattie

  14. Dear Mother,
    I am at Bush Hill with Granfather right now and I am experiencing Yellow Fever. I feel like I am slowly and painfully dying. All I see is a bunch of sick and infected people all around me. The taste in my mouth feels like I am drowning in my own blood and I just want it to end and be over with for good. All I ever hear is the sound of people crying, coughing, or throwing up. I’m feeling really alone and forgoten. I am smelling so many different kinds of smells but, mainly the smell of depresion and sickness.

  15. Dear Mother,
    As of right now, I am at Bush Hill with Grandfather. The farmer that was supposed to bring us to the Ludington’s kicked us off because he thought Grandfather had Yellow Fever. So Grandfather and I walked a little bit and found a Chestnut Tree to rest under. Then, I went out to find water and food for us. When I was on my way back I got very tired and hot then I fainted on the side of the road. When I woke up I was here. A nurse told me that I have Yellow Fever and they’re doing what they can to make me better again. And don’t worry about Grandfather, he just has a cough.
    This place is very depressing. The stench is horrid and the sight isn’t very good either. If you just look around you can see dead people or people dying for the sickness. I hope you are well mother and I will hopefully see you soon.
    Your daughter,

  16. Dear Mother,
    On our to the Ludington’s farm some soldiers and doctors thought grandfather was sick because he started to cough. I tried to convince the soldiers and doctors that he just had summer gripes because that is what he said. We went under a chesnut tree to relax and I found water and rasberries. Grandpa started to feel better. When I went to go find food I blacked out. I woke up at Bush Hill hospital where Mrs.Flag cared for me. She gave some beef broth. I think grandfather was flattering her so I knew he was better. I hope all is well.

  17. Dear Mother,

    Me and Grandfather did not make it to the Ludingtons. We have arrived at Bush hill, and I have gotten Yellow Fever. On the way to the ludingtins we fell out of the wagon. while I was taking care of Grandfather I blacked out and woke up at Bush Hill. I Hope that you are doing better.

    Love Maddie.

    What would you have written?

  18. Dear Mother,
    Grandfather and I never made it to Gwynedd. We are at Bush Hill Hospital. We had to go here because grandfather was coughing and felt ill. I found out i have Yellow Fever I am fine but grandfather is weak. I hope you feel better. I love you

  19. Dear Mother,
    Grandfather and I were traveling on the wagon when some towns people came riding down to the wagon with a doctor to check us for Yellow Fever. They thought Grandfather had the fever and threw us out of the wagon. Grandfather isn’t doing to well.I don’t remember much and I am very weak. How are you and Eliza? Love and miss you -Mattie

  20. Dear Mother,
    Grandfater and I were kicked out of the carrage because, Grandfather was sick. Now, him and I are in the hospital. Al the doctor’s speak French. Hope you can come join us soon. I miss you a lot. The hospital is Bush Hospital founded by Mr. Stephen G.


  21. My dearest mother,
    I’m splended to hear you are doing well but I’m not at the Ludingtons, four guards stopped us half way to check if we had any fever victims. They said that grand-daddy had it, so the farmer through us of and kept our food and clothing. We walked for miles and then eventually stopped because grand-daddy was getting most tierdsome so we sat down under a large chestnut tree. We stayed there for two days. I did go back and forth to this stream to get fresh water and berries for me and grand-daddy, but I fanted on the way back one time. Eventually grand-daddy came and searched for me he took me on his “back” all the way to Bush Hill but dont worry its not bad anymore this nice laddy is takeing care of me, her name is Mrs. Flaggs. But I’ve just got some terrible news I’ve got yellow fever! I’ll be ok though and I hope you get this soon.

    Love your most dearest,

  22. Dear Mother,
    On the way to Gwynedd we where stopped by some soliders and where asked to be checked by the doctor so we could enter. When they checked grandpa they thought he had Yellow Fever and asked us to go back, and of course they lefted us there. Alone with grandpa being sick, I went to get food and water, but I got ill and grandpa took me to Bush Hill. Please don’t worry it has been converted into a hospital and a nurse named Mrs.Flagg is taking care of me. I do,unfortunately have Yellow Fever but I’m recovering well and hope you are too.
    I love you,
    Mattie (Alicia)

  23. Dear Mother,
    I hope you are doing alright in this harsh world of yellow Fever. I have now been diagnosed with this horrible disease. I want you to know I am with grandfather in Bush Hill. We are getting good care by Mrs. Flag. Don’t worry about our troubles. We couldn’t make it to Our earlier destination

  24. Dear Mother,
    Grandfather and I are in Bush Hill Hospital because I contracted Yellow Fever. Grandfather became sick on the ride, so they kicked us out. The doctors here are speaking French. I cannot understand them. I cannot walk as well, but I try. I hope you are well, stay safe, and know I love you.
    With love,
    Mattie (Louis)

  25. Dear Mother,
    I am at Bush Hill. I am not at the Ludington’s Estate Farm. This is why, on the carriage ride to Gwyneed Grandfather started coughing. They threw us of the carriage without any luggage. Then we had to walk to the Ludington’s. After that I fainted and don’t remember anything else. I love you dearly. Take care.

  26. Dearest Mother,
    I have dreadful news. I have been stricken with Yellow Fever. Sadly grandfather and I couldn’t make it to Ludington. We were kicked off the wagon because one of the doctors said grandfather had Yellow fever but in fact I do. Grandfather is sick but no sign of yellow fever yet. I am now in Bush Hill getting good care. I really don’t know how I got here because I fainted but grandfather says he carried me. I doubt it. How are you doing in this time of sorrow? How is Eliza doing? I hope to get back to the rest of my beloved family soon. I miss and love you all.
    Love your dearest daughter,

  27. Dear Mother,
    I am at Bush Hill hospital with grandfather. We never made it to Gwynedd because we fell out of a wagon. Also I have yellow fever. The nurse here, I think, likes grandfather. It’s very interesting. I woke up here at Bush Hill after I fainted in on the way to give Grandfather the berries I picked. Grandfather wasn’t feeling so great, but he managed to pick me up and carry me from there, and all the way to Bush Hill. I hope your you and Eliza are able to manage your yellow fever.
    Your Daughter,

  28. Dearest Mother,
    I miss you more than you know. Right now I am in Bush Hill. I know what you are thinking as you read my letter. No, Grandfather and I did not make it all the way to the Ludingtons. I hope all is well with you. I have come down with Yellow Fever. Don’t you worry because I am in good hands in the hospital. If you are wondering, Grandfather is doing fine. We are taking care of each other because I know that is what you would want us to do if you were here with us. Please write back. I love and miss you.
    Best wishes,
    Your dearest Mattie (Raina)

  29. Dear Mother,

    I am at Bush Hill and it is so dreary hear! Many people are sick and a few have been carried out of my room. The doctors here are French and I can barely understand them but my nurse, Mrs. Flagg, has taken good care of me. Grandfather is feeling better, he is almost his own self again! We did not make it to the Ludington’s because we were thrown out of the old grouchy farmer’s wagon! I hope when this massacre is over we can meet again! I miss you so much mother and I wish yo could be here with me! Tell Eliza that I miss her and that the fever has grasped me by the neck and shaken me around a little but that I am doing better now!

    I love you,

  30. Dear Mother Lucille,
    I am here at Bush Hill. It has been so hot it is just awful! We got kicked of the wagon so we did not get to Gwynedd estate. I just been diagnosed with the dreadful Yellow Fever. The doctors has been taking care of us. You won’t believe Bush Hill it has a chandelier!But I am feeling much better. Grandfather still has his cough.How are you feeling mother? Are you getting better? I want you to know I am praying to see you soon and for you to get better. Hope to see you soon Mother!

    Love Your Daughter,

  31. Dear mother,

    I have made it to Bush Hill. I am so sorry to say that I have been infected with yellow fever. My head is burning and pounding with pain, but at least I’m in the hospital. All the doctors here speak French, which is extremely confusing for me to hear. I can tell grandfather is trying his best to keep up his energy for me. Hopefully I will be better soon, but you never know with this deadly disease. Write back soon.


  32. Dear Mother,
    Grandfather and I never made it to Ludington’s, so I am writing to you from Bush Hill. We were originally traveling to Ludington’s, but during our ride in a wagon, the farmer thought grandfather had Yellow Fever, so he kicked us off. I do not think grandfather has the Fever, but he has definitely been stricken ill with some sickness.
    I, though, do have the Fever. I was going to collect some berries to eat (since the farmer took all our food), but I suddenly fainted. I’m not sure how, but we are now in Bush Hill. Grandfather says he carried me the whole way.
    Anyway, how are you feeling? Are you still sick with the Fever? How is Eliza? Is the Fever still raving, or has it died down? I miss you.

  33. Oh dearest mother,

    Grandfather and I never made it to the Ludington’s farm because grandfather was having a coughing fit and they kicked us out of the carraige. The worst part was that they took all of our food and supplies! My stomach was rumbling and grandfather’s fingers were getting stiff. I had to fish with my petticoat and it took a large amount of time to get a fish to even swim near the petticoat. I never caught it because King George swooped in to get a bee and scared it away. I was furious!

    Grandfather and I are now at Bush Hill Hospital. I have Yellow Fever. The doctors say that I will be fine and that it is not that bad. I am not suffering very much and grandfather is getting much better. I hope to see you soon back at the Coffee Shop. I miss you.

    Love Mattie

  34. Dear Mother,
    I’m at Bush Hill with grandpa. Unfortunately grandpa and I are stricken with Yellow Fever. Grandpa had it before we even left Philadelphia, but it was noticed when men came to search us. The farmer and his family left us, and we were stranded on the road for several retched days. We were found by some men, and they took us to Bush Hill. I wish to leave, but now the only place that will take grandpa and I, is the place where we reside. I hope you have gotten better and tell Eliza that she is doing me a service that cannot be paid back.

  35. Beloved Mother,

    I hope to be united with you soon. I am currently situated at Bush Hill Hospital. I’m not aware if you know that it is founded by Mr. Girard. I have fallen ill with yellow fever. I can only hope that you will receive my letter if my timing is in your favor. I wish tings would return to the earlier days. I miss the smell of Eliza’s cooking at the coffee house. Grandfather and I were abandoned on the side of the road before making it to Ludington’s. Our belonging, gone. Grandfather was pronounced ill. I wouldn’t mind a roof over my head. It dull and humid here. the bugs are not very pleasant either. I want a bed again and good food. I miss you mother and I hope to see you again.



  36. Dearest Mother,
    You would not believe the misfourtune of our trip! We couldn’t make it to the Ludingtons. The farmer with whom we were riding with brought us 10 miles out of town, and we ran into soldiers who were protecing the country road. They said that Grandfather had the fever! Mother, it was absolutely horrible! There were no houses or barn anywhere in sight. I tried to care for Grandfather by trying to catch fish and finding berries, but I did not do well. All I remember is fainting and waking up in Bush Hill. Grandfather has taking a liking to Mrs. Flagg, my nurse. I had the fever, but I am recovering. I hope to see you soon. I love you Mother.
    Love, Mattie

  37. Dear Mother,
    I’m in Bush Hill Hospital with Grandfather. We were with a farmer on his wagon but since Grandfather has been coughing a lot he thought he had the fever and kicked us off the wagon 10 miles out of town. I on the other hand I do have the fever and I scared Grandfather will catch it from me. Then I woke up here in Bush Hill. We have a nurse who Grandfather likes now. So I hope you are doing better than me. Hope to see you soon.

  38. Dearest Classroom. My name is Joshua. I am from Orange County. I have never heard of that book. I have heard of Fever 452 by Raybradbury which I know is completely different. I wonder if that book is good. I also wonder how everyone reacted to the news of an outbreak in Philadelphia. People might have thought the was as bad as a plague. How people died afterwards? Was the outcome the same as the out come of the Black Death?

    • Greetings Joshua!
      Thank you for visiting our blog. We are happy to make your acquaintance. I’d love to answer your questions regarding the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1793. People DID think it was as bad as the plague. As with the Black Death, no one knew how it was transmitted. They feared it was sent as a punishment from God. They tried all kinds of crazy remedies in hopes of preventing the illness. One notable practice was bathing in vinegar. About 5000 Philadelphians died from Yellow Fever between the months of August and October when the frost finally arrived. That was about one-tenth of the city’s population. The Black Death had an even higher mortality rate with 1 in 3 people dying in Europe. Both diseases were transmitted in similar ways: Yellow Fever through mosquitoes which had arrived on boats from Santo Domingo; the Black Death from fleas which travelled on rats which were on ships coming from the Far East. How did you learn about the Black Death?
      Thanks for your interest in our blog, Joshua. We will visit your blog soon, too!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  39. Dearest Mother,
    I am so glad to finally get to write to you. I have a lot of news to catch you up on. Grandfather and I never quite reached the Ludington’s residence. In fact, we never even made it to Gwynedd. We were in route on the wagon and Grandfather started to look and feel sick. His hands were like rocks, so stiff and aching. His face was a dripping red cherry. He coughed as if there was a frog in there! The cantankerous wagon driver threw us out, thinking Grandfather had the fever. The good thing is, he doesn’t.

    Once we were off the wagon, we were alone. Just two people deserted on the streets. Food was scarce. I even tried fishing with my petticoat! King George ruined that for us, as if it weren’t difficult enough already. After restlessly walking, I caught the fever and fainted. When I woke up, I was here, at Bush Hill. Did you know it is a hospital now? I am in excruciating pain, but I won’t die. These French doctors know their stuff, although I can’t understand them. My nurse, Mrs. Flagg, is doing a superb job. She has Grandfathers help, too.

    I hope you are feeling okay, Mother. I miss you so much. It pains me not not knowing where you are or what you’re doing, but I am sure you’re keeping up well. You’ve always been so strong. Please tell Eliza I miss her and send her my love and best wishes. I will hopefully seen you soon.
    Yours truly,

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