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In Their Own Words

February 11, 1772

First Case of Rabies Recorded

Savannah merchant James Habersham, writing to a friend in London, recorded the first case of rabies in Georgia - and a horrifying consequence:

” … I thought to have written to you a long letter by this opportunity, but a very shocking Circumstance has happened in my Family, that I could wish at present to be excused from putting Pen to Paper, as I am so much troubled and affected, that I can scarcely hold up my Head. A Mulatto Boy, who, with his Mother, I had given to my Son John, was bit with a Dog in the Cheek, about 14 days before Xtmas, which shewed its Effect about 2 days agoe, with more Horror, than I can express, and is, I believe, the first Instance of canine Madness, that has happened in this Province. The Boy was in every respect worthy of regard, but that is of small Consideration with the Circumstances of his Death, which has made such an Impression upon me, that I believe, will never be blotted out of my memory… . The Cries and Intreaties of the Mother begging her Child to be put to Death, the dreadfull shreaks of the Boy, and his more than pretty behaviour in taking leave of all around him, has rung such a Peal in my Ears, that I never can forget, and which it is impossible for me to describe, and hope never to meet with the like again… .”

Source: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, Vol. VI, The Letters of the Hon. James Habersham, 1756-1775 (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1904), pp. 163-164.