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This module provides a biographical timeline for Kezia Payne DePelchin.

Depelchin timeline

Originally of English descent with roots in Madeira, Portugal, Kezia Payne DePelchin was a pioneering nurse, teacher, and social worker based in Houston, Texas during the 1850’s to 1890’s. The Our Americas Archive Partnership digital collection at Rice University contains a series of letters written by DePelchin to her sister Sarah (nicknamed Sallie) while DePelchin served as a nurse in the yellow fever epidemics of 1878 in Memphis, Tennessee and Senatobia, Mississippi. Also included in the collection is a journal of DePelchin’s travels to visit her home in Madeira in the early 1880's.

Howard Physician in Memphis
A Howard Association physician on his rounds during the Memphis yellow fever epidemic.

1781 Abraham Payne, Kezia’s father, born in Thetford, Norfolk, England.
Abraham Payne marries “Hanna” in England. Kezia’s half-siblings Abraham and Catherine are born.
Family moves to Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. Abraham enters the wine business.
1824 Hanna dies in childbirth on Madeira. The daughter born, Hepziah, dies as an infant. 1825 May 14: Abraham Payne marries Kezia’s mother, a widow named Catherine Armstrong Cartwright, a resident of Funchal, native of England. 1828 July 23: Kezia born in Funchal, Madeira. (unknown) Kezia’s siblings Frances, Sarah, and Benjamin are born. 1833
September 26: Catherine Armstrong Cartwright Payne dies.
November 23: Kezia’s brother Abraham dies.
September: Kezia, her siblings, and their governess, Hannah Bainton (an Englishwoman) leave Madiera for America on the ship Chili. Abraham stays behind to settle his business affairs.
Adolph DePelchin, Kezia’s future husband, is born in Ostend, Belgium.
1836 December 12: Kezia and her family arrive in New York. 1837 January: Kezia and family arrive in Galveston, Texas. 1839
Spring: Abraham Payne arrives in Galveston, and marries Hannah Bainton.
September: A yellow fever epidemic strikes Galveston, soon spreading to Houston, Texas. One-fourth of the population of Galveston dies, as does 240 of Houston’s 2,000 inhabitants.
Kezia and her family contract yellow fever. Kezia survives, but her brother Benjamin and sister Catherine die.
June 11: Kezia’s father, Abraham Payne dies in Galveston of complications from yellow fever.
March 12: Kezia’s sister Sarah returns to Funchal to marry her cousin John Payne, who came to Funchal to take over Abraham Payne’s wine business.
1841 Late summer: Kezia arrives in Houston accompanied by her widowed step-mother. 1850 Spring: Kezia and her stepmother move to Bastrop, Texas to operate a school. They return to Houston a year later. 1853 During a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans, the Howard Relief Association is organized in that city. 1860 January 21: Kezia’s sister Frances dies on Madiera. 1862 August 23: Kezia marries Belgian itinerant musician Adolph DePelchin. No children of the marriage. They part soon after due to his financial recklessness, though they never divorce. (unknown) During the Civil War, Kezia joins a nursing corps in Houston. 1867 January 15: Early plans for Bayland Orphan’s Home are begun. 1870 November 9: Kezia’s step-mother, Hannah Bainton Payne dies. 1877 October 2: The Houston public school system is established. Kezia teaches fourth and fifth grades. 1878
August 29: Kezia leaves Houston to serve as a nurse in the yellow fever epidemics in Memphis and Granada, Tennessee, working in Memphis alongside other healthworkers of the Howard Relief Association.
October 14: Kezia leaves Memphis to work as a nurse in the epidemic in Senatobia, Mississippi. Not long afterward, the epidemic ends.
November 23: Kezia returns to Memphis, leaving for Houston, Texas with a stop in Sewanee, Tennessee.
1879 April: Kezia teaches private school in her home in Houston. 1880 Kezia’s sister Sarah’s husband John dies, on Madeira, and Sarah becomes paralyzed. 1881
July: Kezia leaves for Madeira to care for her sister Sarah, stopping on the way to visit friends and former patients in New Orleans, New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, and then stops in England and Scotland to visit her niece Mary Payne, and nephews David and George.
August 4: Kezia lands at Madeira.
1882 May 21: Kezia’s sister Sarah dies in Funchal, Madeira. 1883
January: Kezia arrives back in Houston
December: Kezia becomes head nurse at Stuart and Boyles Infirmary, formerly Charity Hospital, which cares for the indigent ill.
Early March: Kezia leaves the Infirmary.
Bayland Orphan’s Home for Boys moves from Tabbs Bay to Houston.
1888 July 1: Kezia becomes the first woman matron of Bayland Orphans’ Home. 1891 March 27: Kezia’s husband Adolph de Pelchin dies in New Orleans. 1892
Spring: Three homeless young children are brought to Kezia, who cares for them in a friend’s home.
May 2: Kezia establishes Faith Home in a rented house in the 2500 block of Washington Avenue in Houston.
January 13: Kezia Payne De Pelchin dies in Houston and is buried in the Episcopal Cemetery.
January 20: One hundred Houston women organize the DePelchin Faith Home to honor DePelchin after her death.

Fragment of November 9, 1878 letter from Kezia Payne DePelchin to her sister Sallie


DePelchin Children’s Center: (External Link)

“Houston’s Oldest Cemeteries: Cities of the Dead of Past Generations Neglected and Some of Them Almost Obliterated”, Houston Daily Post, February 15, 1903.

The Handbook of Texas Online: (External Link)

Matthews, Harold J. Candle by Night: The Story of the Life and Times of Kezia Payne DePelchin, Texas Pioneer Teacher, Social Worker and Nurse. Boston: Bruce Humphries, Inc., 1942.

Further reading

To read some of Kezia Payne DePelchin's letters, please visit the Our Americas Archive Partnership and search for Kezia Payne DePelchin .

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Source:  OpenStax, Yellow fever: medicine in the western hemisphere. OpenStax CNX. Oct 11, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11312/1.4
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