In August of 1878, Memphis was struck with its most disastrous Yellow Fever epidemic. The Howard Association, a volunteer group of young businessmen, organized a medical corps to help the devastated city.
Volunteer physicians and nurses came from all over the country to treat the thousands of disease victims. Many stayed at the Peabody Hotel, the only hotel to stay open during the epidemic. Each physician was assigned to a district where they often started their rounds at dawn.