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“there had died 10 of a day”

Given the times we are living in—a pandemic suffocating the entire world—with those of us who can, confined to our homes, it seems useful to recall the scourges that regularly attacked the population of the American colonies, including the Native Americans, as well as the citizens of the new nation. Here, at random, are excerpts from previous posts on the subject.

The marriage of SARAH LOGAN to Thomas Fisher in 1772 united two of the most important and wealthy families in Philadelphia. Sarah, a Quaker, kept a diary that contains her observations on the Revolution and is an important source of information about life in Philadelphia under the control of Pennsylvania officials anticipating a British attack and later during the British occupation.

December 19, 1776— Morning at home at work ….met with John Foulke, who told us that the disorder among the poor sick soldiers was better, that not above 3 or 4 died of a day, but that there had died 10 of a day, & that the smallpox was broken out among them, which he expected would make a great destruction, as not above one in 50 of the Maryland soldiers had had it, many of them not having a bed to lie on or a blanket to cover them ….

December 29, 1776— …. Dr. Bond called here after Meeting & gave us a very melancholy account of the sick soldiers, & says they have the true camp fever which is near akin to the plague. He says 15 or 20 frequently die of a day, that they bury 8 or 10 in a grave, & not above a foot underground. He thinks the disorder will spread & that the inhabitants are in great danger….

December 30, 1776—This morning my Tommy [Sarah’s husband] conversed with the man who has the care of burying the sick soldiers. He says it is not true that the graves are so shallow, but that they die so fast that he cannot dig graves for them all, & so digs a large hole 15 feet square & 10 feet deep for them all, & so buries them two tier, & that the highest coffin is about five feet underground….

Wainwright, Nicholas B., and Sarah Logan Fisher. “”A Diary of Trifling Occurrences”: Philadelphia, 1776-1778.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 82, no. 4 (1958): 414-21.

posted April 5th, 2020 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

Dear Reader

Please excuse the absence of posts in the past week. Have been dealing with a family medical problem. Expecting to return to Abigail Adams’s journal of her sea voyage shortly. Thank you.

posted July 2nd, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

“I met with a very sensible Physician yesterday”

MARY “POLLY” STEVENSON (soon to be HEWSON), having just heard that Benjamin Franklin had returned from a tour of the Continent, wrote him this letter:

Margate Sept. 1. 1769Welcome to England my dear, my honour’d Friend . . . .
I met with a very sensible Physician yesterday, who prescribes Abstinence for the Cure of Consumption. He must be clever because he thinks as we do. I would not have you or my Mother surpris’d, if I should run off with this young man; to be sure it would be an imprudent Step at the discreet Age of Thirty but there is no saying what one should do if sollicited by a Man of an insinuating Address and good Person, tho he may be too young for one, and not yet establish’d in his Profession. He engag’d me so deeply in Conversation and I was so much pleas’d with him, that I thought it necessary to give you Warning, tho’ I assure you he has made no Proposal.
How I rattle! This Flight must be owing to this new Acquaintance or to the Joy of hearing my old one is return’d to this Country; I know which I attribute it to, for I can tell when my Spirits were enliven’d, but you may think as you please if you will believe me to be Dear Sir Your truly affectionate humble Servant
M StevensonCan’t you send me one little Letter directed for me at Mr. Coleman’s Margate? where I shall be some days longer.

The man Polly describes was William Hewson (surgeon, 1739-1774). He was a teacher of anatomy and noted for his research in the field of hematology.

“To Benjamin Franklin from Mary Stevenson, 1 September 1769,” Founders Online, National Archives, version of January 18, 2019, [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 16, January 1 through December 31, 1769, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1972, pp. 190–192.]

posted March 12th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Hewson, Dr. William,Hewson, Mary "Polly" Stevenson,Uncategorized

Site temporarily down for Operating System upgrade

posted May 23rd, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

A short respite

Read more about SUSAN LIVINGSTON SYMMES in the next post which will appear on November 21. Until then I will be visiting family on the West Coast.

posted November 14th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

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