GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2001-11 > 1006725654
Subject: [GM-L] Smallpox Epidemics
Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 17:00:54 EST
Subject: Smallpox Epidemics
Source: Various, cited.
Source: History of Lancaster, Mass., by Rev. Abijah P. Marvin, 1879
In March, 1758, Caleb Willard who was in the service of the province in 1757,
Colonel Frey, petitioned for aid. On his return from camp he was taken ill
smallpox and was at great expense for nurses and doctors. He asked for an
of 6 pounds and 5 shillings.
The ravages of the smallpox in former times was fearful. The dread of its
marred the happiness of millions. Anything that would mitigate its virulence
hailed with joy. Lady Wortley Montague made herself the benefactress of the
race by advocating the method of inoculating for the smallpox, which she had
familiar with while her husband was British minister at Constantinople. By
sistent endeavors the practice was begun in England by some of the faculty
grew in favor.
It was introduced into Massachusetts by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, against the
of the people, and the opposition of the profession. The learned Rev. Cotton
one of the most enlightened men of his times, and unmatched in America for
ious learning, gave Dr. Boylston his powerful aid. It gradually grew in
the benefits of vaccination were demonstrated, since which time it has gone
Dr. Israel Atherton, of Lancaster, exposed himself to the hazard of disease
death, as well as the hostility of some of his townsmen, by setting up a
or, "pest house," as the hospital for inoculated patients was vulgarly
30, 1790, the town was asked to give "consent to have a hospital opened under
direction of Israel Atherton, Esq., for the purpose of inoculating for the
and the required consent was given. Dr. Atherton was to occupy the house of
Wood, with his leave first obtained. By repeated licenses of the town, the
was kept open till 1794, and was much resorted to by those who were willing
security from the disease in the natural form, by running the risk incurred
oculation. The house of Jotham Wood was on Pine hill, in a most beautiful
towards the northeast end. There is a spur of the hill here which juts out
intervale and overlooks the valley of the Nashua and the opposite hills, for
miles. Standing here the lover of nature feasts on the prospect with delight.
Dr. Atherton was authorized to erect other buildings, so far as needful,
to the demand of the patients. Wood's house was large, and the depression of
cellar still remains, with other depressions very near. The house was taken
at a later date, and moved from the hill to the road that goes by the Dyer
to Still River. It was then made into two houses, one of which was occupied
White and his descendants for many years. The old cellars bear witness to
The ravages of the smallpox received the attention of the legislature and a
passed giving the towns increased power to deal with the evil. Therefore the
held a meeting on May 7th, 1810, in compliance with the law, and chose a
to "superinend the inoculation of the cowpox." The inhabitants were required
in the several school houses at specified times, for the purpose of being
Three days later a special meeting was called by "personal notice," that is
by leaving a
notification of the meeting at each voter's residence twenty-four hours
before the time of
meeting. The town was alarmed by an epidemic fever which prevailed at the
time. It appears
that the selectmen had called in physicians from other towns, in addidtion to
in Lancaster, and the town voted to authorize the fathers of the town to "pay
those physicians whom they have employed from other towns the charges they
have against persons
unable to pay such charges, and afford further supplies to such as are sick
and in distress.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth
Source: Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground, Groton, Mass. by Dr. S. A.
Here Lies ye Body of Mr. Benjamin Farnsworth Junr Who Departed This Life
Aug'st ye 31th A D l757 Aged 20 years 5 months & 28 Days who died with ye
Author's note: The son of Benjamin and Rebekah Farnsworth, born February
Here Lies The Body of Mr. Benjamin Farnsworth Who Departed This Life Sep't
ye l8th A D l757 Aged 58 Years 7 Months & 22 Days who Died with ye small
Author's note: The son of Benjamin and Mary (Prescott) Farnsworth born
January 16, l699.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth
History of Charlestown, NH by Rev. Henry H. Saunderson 1876
Deacon Cephas Walker, son of Elijah and Polly (Howe) Walker m. l836 the
widow, Priscilla E. (West) Burnham. She d. of smallpox l873. Deacon Walker
came to Charlestown l843.
Subject: Lieut Isaac Parker's wife dies in Smallpox Epidemic at Fort 4
Source: History of Charlestown, NH by Rev. Henry H. Saunderson 1876
Ruth (Blood) Parker, wife of Lieut Isaac Parker died March 25, 1759 in
a smallpox epidemic at Fort 4.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth
Groton, Mass. Causes of Death by Elinor Skeate
CAUSES OF DEATH IN EARLY GROTON
Source: Elinor Skeate
One of the most common causes was miscarriage, stillborn births, or
complications after childbirth which took many lives. Consumption or "lung
fever" took a large tole, as did scarlet fever, thyphus, dysentary, smallpox,
diptheria, whooping cough, measles, and childhood diseases or "fevers". Old
age was also not as uncommon as some might think. Many lived to be 70, 80,
and even 90 years old. There are a number of 50th, 60th and even a 75th
wedding anniversary in my own genealogical history before 1800.
Source: Births, Marriage, Death Register, Church Records & Epitaphs of
MA 1643 to 1850 by Henry S. Nourse, A.M.
Died: October 1778: Lucy, Cretia and Katy children of Mr. Peter Larkin
Note: many died of smallpox this year.
Smallpox Cemetery at Bolton, Mass. (once a part of Lancaster)
Source: Bolton Historical Society
Narrative History of Bolton, Mass.
The Quaker community at Fryville continued to thrive toward the middle of the
nineteenth century, and a second Quaker cemetery, the Friends Burying Ground
(#803) was opened on Berlin Road in 1844. During this period smallpox was
still cause to prevent interment in public burial grounds, and a small family
private Smallpox Cemetery (#804) is still in place off Sugar Road, with two
burials from 1845. One of the town's most prominent citizens, Edwin A.
Whitcomb, the last Whitcomb to own the lime quarry, also died of smallpox, in
1872, and was buried behind the Whitcomb Homestead on the site of today's 149
Main Street. His body was later moved to the Pan Burying Ground.
Nashua Culture -
Dunstable, NH becomes Nashua, NH. Smallpox ravages the town.
Smallpox in the Higginson Fleet to Salem, Mass, 1629
At a company meeting in London on May 13, 1629, "Mr. John Browne" was
mentioned as "being out of the land:" John and Samuel Browne sailed on April
on either the Lyon's Whelp, or the Talbot, which left on the same date.
Higginson reported that two of his children on May 17, 1629 developed
smallpox "which was brought into the ship by one Mr. Browne which was sick at
the same at
Gravesend" [Higginson 65]