I am happy to share a discovery made by John Matteson, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father. My thanks to him for sharing the following photo. John writes,
“This is the photograph of Michael C. Lowry, the half-brother of John Suhre. Michael was also killed at Fredericksburg, but earlier in the day in a different part of the field. This photo is our closest clue for knowing what Alcott’s ‘Prince of Patients’ looked like.
The photo belongs to the Somerset County (PA) library. That’s the county where Suhre was born and raised. (It’s also where the 4th plane went down on 9/11. Suhre had his blacksmith’s forge in Shanksville.) I went there in 2016 to do research on John and came across the picture.
I also found a newspaper record showing that Suhre’s family’s house burned down when he was a young boy.”
Louisa May Alcott wrote of John Suhre as her “prince of patients.” In the short time spent together as he lay dying, the nurse and her patient shared a lifetime of emotions. “A Night” (chapter 4 of Hospital Sketches) represents some of Alcott’s finest and most poignant writing.
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