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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Miss Mary Safford: The Angel of Cairo

MISS MARY SAFFORD: The Angel of Cairo
By Robert E. Denney


In Cairo [IL] that summer [1861] a young woman from Vermont was visiting her brother, the most important banker in town, and she became involved in working at the Cairo hospital when she could.

Miss Mary Safford was a well-educated, beautiful, and romantic young woman who captured the heart of every patient, as well as the hearts of the staff, in the hospital. Lacking the homemaking and organizational skills of [Mary Ann] Bickerdyke, she spent her time consoling the patients, writing letters for them, hanging curtains in the windows, smoothing fevered brows and being an angel.

The patients loved her to distraction, and Mrs. Bickerdyke used her to the fullest in her role. In addition, Mrs. Bickerdyke taught her the less glamorous side of nursing. Safford learned to cook, wash the patient's clothing, wash and iron the sheets, and make beds, The patients and staff called Mrs. Bickerdyke "Mother," and they called Mary Safford "The Angel of Cairo," which much pleased Mother Bickerdyke.

From: "Civil War Medicine: Care & Comfort of the Wounded"

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