After the war ended in 1865, Memphis soon became the fastest-growing city in the United States and in 1867 regained its designation as the “county seat”. Along with this growth, however, came challenges. One of the most devastating was a series of yellow fever epidemics. Beginning in 1873 and continuing through 1879, the deadly fever killed more than 8,000 Memphis citizens. By the late 1870s, the epidemic resulted in closure of the town’s businesses when more than half of the population left the City. At one point, Memphis was in over $6 million in debt. Due to this overwhelming economic burden, the City declared bankruptcy and its government was abandoned and Memphis lost its City Charter in 1879 becoming only a “taxing district of the state.” Dr. D.T. Porter became president of the new taxing district.
Historic Elmwood Cemetery aided the orphanage by providing burial plots for children killed by Yellow Fever.