Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"


In early April Louisa's diary had included several mentions of Warren being sick. That was not unusual; he had had several colds and ear inflammations over the winter, and had cut his first teeth. Another child in the house was also sick. Lydia, the young daughter of her housemate Mrs. Lumbard, had Scarlet Fever. On April 11th, Louisa wrote, "Lydia better–Warren not so well."63  After that, all of her description of Warren's illness was in her long entry of May 2nd.

The baby was seen by five different doctors over the course of his illness. Three were called in by Louisa or by the doctor she chose to oversee the treatment, Dr. Bradstreet of Newburyport. Two more entered into consultation with the others after being called to the house to treat her landlord, Captain Fowler. He had an intestinal blockage which reached a critical point before Louisa, who was completely involved in Warren's care, realized that he was sick. When Captain Fowler's treatment proved successful, his physicians turned their attention to the sick child.

Louisa wanted to nurse Warren herself, but after two weeks, accepted help from her friends. Exhausted from carrying him, she allowed one of her watchers to take him. Whoever it was, it was probably one of her closest friends, but she described the moment as "the painful necessity of giving him to a stranger." She left the room for a short time to escape the sound of his labored breathing. She wrote:

I wept and prayed until I became more composed, then returned to the chamber to hear the last sobs, and close the eyes of my only son. For hours I had wished to see him quiet; but when the time came I thought my own breath would have stopped. No one, that never felt, can conceive the distress of such a situation.

63. Park, Diary, April 9-11, 1801.
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