Greene County, Arkansas

Singular Freak of an Arkansas Sleep -Walker

Little Rock Gazette

April 24 , 1879

Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin

In the St. Francis River bottoms there lives a man named George H. Toban, with a wife and a thirteen-year old son. One morning, just after the yellow fever excitement began to spread over the country, Mr. Toban, upon opening his door, found a card lying on his door-step. On the card were written the words " yellow ever. "

Very little attention was paid to the matter, but when again and again similar cards were found Mr. Toban became concerned, and not being clear of superstition he regarded the cards as a warning of an approach of the terrible disease. Every night he would read gloomy reports from Memphis, and every morning found the card, "yellow fever."

Finally he determined to watch and satisfy himself, and on the doorstep remained all night. No one appeared, but when the darkness was dispelled by the streaks of daylight he saw a card lying on the step beside him. Catching it up and examining it, he saw the words, "yellow fever" written in exactly the same hand that had marked the cards before. Then there was indeed anxiety in the family.

The fever reports grew gloomier, and the family settled into the belief that Providence, by a hand  writing on cards, had advised flight. The husband did not know what to do , the wife was frightened into a terror that trembled at every sound as though yellow fever walked with noisy footsteps, and the son was almost dumb with fright.

It was at last decided that a vacation of the place would be necessary. But a change came, and the mystery like mist cleared up. On the night before the proposed departure the husband, unable to sleep, sat on the bedside, weak with dread. Suddenly the  door opened and his son, in night attire,  stood in the room. The father, influenced by a sudden feeling, did not speak. The boy advanced to the mantel-piece, took down a pencil and a card, wrote something on it, and then, advancing to the door, slipped it under. The father watched breathlessly, and when the boy started to leave the room  and caught him. The boy struggled, gasped and awoke. He did not know nor could he understand why he stood there grasped by his father. The wife sprang out of bed. A few words explained all, and when the door was opened there was the card bearing the words, "yellow fever. " The young man in his early youth had exhibited signs of somnambulism, and reading every day though yellow fever reports to the family no doubt influenced his acts.

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