I agree. Less than 20 years ago much of the history behind a cover would have remained hidden. Information available online provides new insight into the background of a cover. The cover below has a link to the Yellow Fever epidemic that devastated Norfolk, VA in 1855.https://www.historicforrest.com/nor...ghts/36.html
The cover is postmarked June 19, 1855. This is the date the ship Ben Franklin sailed into Norfolk. The ship had been held at an earlier port for 11 days after it was determined the crew were infected with Yellow Fever.
I attempted to identify the author of the letter but couldn't decipher the signature of the author or the recipient's notes regarding the subject of the letter.
A transcript of the letter:
Norfolk, June 18, 1855
I have a negro woman in a very bad, deranged state, and I am compelled to do something with her, and consequently drop you these lines for instruction & general enquiry. First is there a vacancy for a servant or slave, Second, what is necessary for me to do to get her in the asylum, Third what is the expense per month, Fourth how am I or what course shall I adopt to secure the State for the payment of expenses, & Fifth the earliest possible chance of getting her there. Your prompt & immediate attention to the above with much oblige. Very Respectfully...balance illegible.
The letter is addressed to the Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, VA. This facility was the Country's first mental health facility.
In an attempt to determine the identity of the author of the letter I wrote to the Norfolk Historical society and received a response...
I searched the name suggested and found...
Died in September 1855 at the age of 37. No cure for Yellow Fever today. Just a vaccine according to the CDC...
Found this on Google:
Among the thousands of persons who died with the fever, Mr. Forrest particularly mentions the following: Jno. G. H. Hatton, President of the Select Council ,. Alex, Feret, of the Exchange Bank; Ignatius Higgins, teller of the Virginia Bank; W. E. Cunningham, Senior Editor of the American Beacon; Wm. D. Boberts, delegate elect to the Legislature; Richard Gatewood, Jr., of the Norfolk Beacon ; Wilson B. Sorey, U. S. Deputy Marshal; https://www.usmarshals.gov/history/...lave_law.htm