Dr. William Warren Greene's death and burial at sea
Transcript of a letter from Dr. J. L. Little dated November 2nd, 1881 regarding the death and burial at sea of Dr. William Warren Greene. Addressed to George Frye Greene, William's brother.
Following the transcription are scans of the original letter and an enclosed photo of Dr. Little.
60 West 40th St., New York
J. L. Little. M. D.,
Your brother the late Dr Green went over with me on the Gallia. I formed his acquaintance & became very much attached to him.
I had known him by reputation for many years but had never met him before. On going on (the word "board" crossed out) the Parthia at Liverpool I was delighted to find him on board.
He seemed to be in good health until the morning he was taken sick, Sept 8. He vomited freely & seemed inclined to sleep. In the evening he seemed better. But was worse the next morning. He had complete suppression of urine. On Sept. 9 at about 11 o'ck he was seized with a convulsion. I had just left him, was sent for & when I reached him he was insensible & in a moment was seized with another convulsion & died. When I left him few minutes before (the word "eleven" crossed out) I had no idea that death was so near. His condition I considered critical. The steamer surgeon & Dr. (Layres?) of this city saw him with me. Just before he was seized with the convulsions. We all thought that he must have (the word "been" is crossed out) had Bright's disease as this is the way patients frequently die. of this disease.
In regard to his burial at sea. I would say that I was very much surprised when I found that the steamer was not prepared to keep the bodies of passengers who might happen to die during the voyage.
No metallic coffins or antiseptics were on board. The weather was very warm & the ship was overcrowded. The provisions began to give out before we reached N.Y. The Cunard Co treat cabin passengers like steerage passengers. I will never go on the line again. The treatment we received was so bad that the passengers held an indignation meeting & signed a paper containing a statement of our grievances & sent it to the Herald for publication. It was not published. The Bothnia a steamer on the same line & considered one of the best came in last week & her passengers had also held an indignation meeting & succeeded in getting an account of it in the Herald.
I appealed his burial at sea but finally had to yield being convinced that it was the only way to do. The burial was conducted in the most solemn manner. I will never forget it. Although we had known for so short a time I and my family felt that we had lost a warm & a dear friend.
J L Little