Dr. John Erskine was buried in Elmwood Cemetery on September 17, 1878. Dr Erskine was a native of Alabama. He and his older brother moved to Memphis in the 1850s to practice medicine. He served as a surgeon during the Civil War.
Returning to Memphis after that, he became interested in public health and was appointed the city health officer. He was one of the 110 doctors who tended to the sick and dying during the deadly Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878.
September 10, 1884, is an important date in Memphis history, although one often forgotten.
This was the day that the final spike was driven for the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad, later to become a part of the Illinois Central Gulf.
The railroad would open service between Memphis and Vicksburg, through the previously un-served Yazoo Delta. It opened the area to constant trade and year-round markets. Lumber, cotton, beans, and manufactured products were shipped on this new railroad.
Ever since the Battle of Memphis in June of 1862, the town had been in Union hands. This was especially galling to Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, since Memphis was his home town.
On September 10, 1864 Forrest staged a nighttime raid, hoping to free Confederate prisoners and capture two Union Generals, Washburne and Hurlburt, who were in command there. Forrest led about 1,500 men against a force of 6,000 Union soldiers. His forces arrived on Beale Street, and then split up.