I have not yet been in [to Philadelphia from Germantown, six miles northwest], not because there is a shadow of danger, but because I am afoot.—Thomas is returned into my service. His wife and child went into town the day we left them. They then had the infection of the yellow fever, were taken two or three days after, and both died. Had we staid those two or three days longer, they would have been taken at our house. I have heard nothing of Miss Cropper. Her trunk remains at our house. Mrs. Fullerton left Philadelphia. Mr. and Mrs. Rittenhouse remained there but have escaped the fever.
Thomas Jefferson to Maria Jefferson, November 18, 1793
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
President Washington had gone into Philadelphia, but Jefferson had not, for want of a coachman. Thomas Lapseley had returned to fulfill that role after the death of his wife and child. That family had lived with or near him in the city. Jefferson acknowledged had he not fled when he did, he might have perished with them.
“Miss Cropper” was Mary’s schoolmate who lived with the Jeffersons when their boarding school closed. “Mrs. Fullerton” ran that school. The Rittenhouses, from whom he asked to borrow a camera obscura for Maria ‘s education stayed in the city but “escaped the fever.”