Olivia Dabbs Telegram


One of the most tender documents in the museum is a single page telegram from Olivia Dabbs, the young wife of James M. Dabbs.   When the yellow fever epidemic broke out and thousands fled Shreveport, Dabbs, then a “stage agent” or freight manager, in Monroe was called to replace the Shreveport agent who had fled the city.

Dabbs though knowing the danger came to the stricken community.  Dabbs contracted yellow fever and remained for several days on the brink of death.  In a telegram from Monroe his wife Olivia pleaded for his doctor, Henry Smith, to get a priest to give her husband The Last Rites.  James did not die and in his own letter written to Olivia following his recovery,  James promises to return to his wife and infant child.

The young stage agent did, but their time together would be short-lived.  James would die three years later his health broken by his battle with “yellow jack”

The telegram is written in longhand on a simple Western Union Telegraph form. 

Location in Museum

Yellow Jack! Exhibition case




The Family of James and Olivia Dabbs
  • Olivia Dabbs Telegram