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.
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.