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The Can’t Get Away Club in Mobile, Alabama – You’ll never guess its purpose

(Alabamians have always helped each other in times of crisis – this is one example)


The Can’t Get Away Club

A local relief society organized at Mobile in 1839, during a yellow fever epidemic called The Can’t Get Away Club. The club took for its model the Red Cross of Geneva. It was chartered by the legislature February 1, 1854, with John Hurtel, Nathaniel Moore, D. R. W. Davis, John T. Webb, Alfred G. Ross, John Rolston, James Y. Blocker, James W. Marsh, Jacob Reese, Martin B. Harper, Chester Root and Theodore Guesnard, Sr., as incorporates.

Organized in Mobile

During the great epidemics in the period of organization, in the fifties, seventies and as late as 1897, the club was the one organization in Mobile, ready with doctors, nurses, medicines and food for sick and hungry alike. They also performed the last offices for many victims.

During its various periods of activity the club lost many members, including doctors, clergymen and men from all walks of life. (See this letter from Rev. John Wesley Starr, Jr. written during the yellow fever epidemic that describes how much these men sacrificed)

Its funds were made up from the purses of members, and by miscellaneous contributions. No one connected with it received compensation for time or service.

Not compelled to stay

While its greatest work was confined to Mobile, it also rendered aid both in Memphis and New Orleans. Of the work of the organization the Mobile Register editorially says:

“Mobile and other cities of the South bear in grateful remembrance the name of the organization, which, as suggested by Mr. Godfrey Mertz on Thursday night, should have been ‘Won’t Get Away Club.’ The members were not compelled to stay in the neighborhood of infectious disease and could have taken up their residence away from it until the danger had passed. But they elected to fight disease; to combat an insidious enemy that might unseen attack them in the night; that might, and did many times, attack their own families and strike down their friends.

Check out historical books and novels by Donna R. Causey

High order of courage

It requires a higher order of courage to make such a fight than to face visible danger. Happily the raison d’etre of the club no longer exists; yellow fever as a scourge is a thing of the past. The name of the organization that the disease called into being will not pass away, however. The handful of members who remain alive and those who have gone before have their names written indelibly in the annals of Mobile as types of citizens of whom we are justly proud.”

Red Cross, Montgomery, Alabama 1918

Red Cross, Montgomery, Alabama 1918
Red Cross, Montgomery, Alabama 1918

 

SOURCES

  1. Hamilton, Mobile of the Five Flags (1913), pp. 234-235, Acts (1853-54), p. 393;
  2. The Mobile Register, June 7, 1908.
  3. Encyclopedia of Alabama

Historical Reference Books

 

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Pioneers: A Collection of Lost & Forgotten Stories

 

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Pioneers: A Collection of Lost & Forgotten Stories


By (author): Donna R. Causey
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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7 comments

  1. […] in other cities, the ‘Can’t Get Away Club‘, was a benevolent organization formed by brave citizens to help coordinate assistance in the […]

  2. My gg-grandfather Lewis Gueringer was a member of the “Can’t Get Away Club”. Gueringer was a grocer by profession, but could, by all official accounts found in the archives, get for you or do anything for you, even serving as your legal representative in your absence.

    >From “The Mobile Daily Advertiser” Thursday, Sept. 8, 1853, page 2, col. 4:
    [I believe there is more info in this article, if you look it up.]

    STANDING COMMITTEES OF THE CAN’T GET AWAY CLUB (cont.)
    INFIRMARY COMMITTEE.
    JACOB REESE
    L. GUERINGER
    S. I. JONES
    A. G. ROSS
    GEORGE STEELE
    JAMES Y. BLOCKER
    JAMES H. WYLIE
    A. SIMON
    FRED SHEFFIELD
    JOHN ROLSTON
    MARTIN B. HARPER
    JOHN H. HIGLEY
    MANUEL H. CRUZAT
    T. GUESNARD, SR.

    EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
    A. G. ROSS
    JOHN R. CROZIER
    S. I. JONES
    R. A. LEWIS
    A. A. SOSSAMAN
    A. PHILIPE
    C. S. SHREVE
    JOHN ROLSTON
    JOHN F. WEBB
    JOHN POWLEY
    JOHN HURTEL, President

    THE CAN’T GET AWAY CLUB – Grocers and others are authorized to furnish
    Provisions, and anything necessary for the comfort of the sick and
    destitute, upon the order of any Physician, Minister of the Gospel, or
    Member of the Club.
    By order of the Committee.
    sep4 J. M. PARK, Secretary

  3. Proud to say that an uncle by marriage, A.A. Sossaman was a member of this group.

  4. […] brave group of men formed an organization called the “Can’t Get Away Club” that remained to take care of those affected by Yellow Fever during this crisis. Most succumbed to […]

  5. Really informative article on Can’t Get Away Club. The club took for its model the Red Cross of Geneva. Keep posting such articles.

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