Archive for the ‘Illness’ Category

“the Blody flux”

JEMIMA CONDUCT, the young woman from Pleasantdale, New Jersey, once again writes about actions of the British.

Monday May first [1775]. this day I think is a Day of mourning we have word Come that the fleet is coming into Newyork also & to Day the men of our Town is to have a general meeting to Conlud upon measures Which may Be most Proper to be taken; they have Chose men to act for them & I hope the Lord will Give them Wisdom to Conduct wisely & Prudently In all matters.

In 1776, disease ravaged the area. “July 23, Did that Distressing Disorder the Blody flux Began to rage in this Neighborhood.” Jemima cites death after death: of friends and neighbors, adults and children, civilians and soldiers. “August the 16th, Then Died Jered freeman. he was taken Sick at newyork among the Sogers & was brought home & Died Soon After.” Some soldiers were killed in action, but more died as a result of sickness.

September 1776. We hear News from our army at Montigue & Several of them we hear is Dead. sense there Departure Benjamin Canfield & Stevan Morris, David Luis Died with the Camp Disorder & william acorn we hear was killed by the injuns; Sen Jabez freeman the Son of the Late Diseast John freeman is Dead, also Sias Heady Died up there with Sickness.

The bloody flux or dysentery is characterized by bloody diarrhea. The “Camp Disorder” is likely typhus. It is heartbreaking to read Jemima’s list of the dead. It goes on and on, year after year, and is a reminder of the fragility of life at that time and the ineffectiveness of treatment. What is also impressive is the way sickness and death were borne: always regarded as God’s will, to be accepted. Gratitude was expressed for those who had been spared.

Jemima Condict, Her Book: Being a Transcript of the Diary of an Essex County Maid During the Revolutionary War (Orange N.J.: Jemima Condict Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1930), 52, 59, 60, 61. The original of Jemima Condict’s diary is in the archives of the New Jersey Historical Society.

posted March 23rd, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: American soldiers,Condict, Jemima,Death,Illness,Medicine

“Was took With The measles”

You may recall JEMIMA CONDICT from previous posts here and here. She lived in Pleasantdale, New Jersey and kept a journal from the age of eighteen (1772) until she died in childbirth at twenty-five. (She was married to Aaron Harrison.) Much of the journal concerns her religious life: there are texts of scripture, verses of hymns, descriptions of sermons, notes on her attendance at the Church of Newark Mountain (which became the Presbyterian Church of Orange which still stands), and her inner struggles of conscience. But there are other entries as well which provide a glimpse into Jemima’s life and those in her circle as well as events during the Revolutionary War. Herewith a selection of entries.

May the 10 [1772] Rose in the morning tho not very early and Went to weaving yet not very willingly for tho I Love that yet it likes not me and I am in the Mind that I never shall be well as long as I Weave. this spring is a very sickly time, the Measles spreads very fast Beside other Disorders. they are sick each side of us Yet the Lord is still throwing mercy To us, he has given us Health whilst others have sickness & is spareing our lives Whilst Others are taken away. . . .

June the 10 I went to Newark I and my Sisters. We thought to Have had A good Deal of pleasure that Day But before I got Home I had a like to have Had my Neck broke I rid a young Horse and it Was a very windy day and the Dirt flew and there Was chairs and Waggons a rattling and it scared the horse so that he started and flung me of[f] and sprained my arm and now I am forced to write with one [illegible]. . . .

Sunday August 16 Was took With The measles and on Monday Night I broke out in My face and Hand. on Tuesday I was a Red as a Chery And I Was of a fine Coular. My measles turned on Wednesday But still felt very Mean all that week and a Sunday. yet is Great Mercy Shown to me I want so bad As Some.

Jemima spent some time with friends from West Branch who urged her to visit them.

They told me there was young men Plenty there for me But I thought I was In no hurry for a husband at Present. And if I was I thought it was too far to go upon uncertaintys. So I concluded to Stay where I was & I Believe I shan’t Repent it. A Husband or Not, for I am best of[f] in this spot. . . .

thursday I had some Discourse with Mr. Chandler. he asked me why I Did not marry I told him I want in no hurry. Well Said he I wish I was maried to you. I told him he would Soon with himself on maried agin. Why So? Because says I you will find that I am a crose ill contrived Pese of Stuf I told him I would advise all the men to remain as they was for the women was Bad & the men so much worse that It was a wonder if they agreed. So I scard the poor fellow & he is gone. . . .

More from Jemima’s journal in the next post.

Jemima Condict, Her Book: Being a Transcript of the Diary of an Essex County Maid During the Revolutionary War (Orange N.J.: Jemima Condict Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1930). The original of Jemima Condict’s diary is in the archives of the New Jersey Historical Society.

posted March 9th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Condict, Jemima,Daily life,Illness,Marriage,New Jersey

“the Thoat distemper . . . . a terrible disease”

In a letter from London prior to the Adams’s trip to the West Country ABIGAIL ADAMS gives her sister Elizabeth Smith Shaw advice on how to deal with an outbreak of throat distemper. The term referred to infections of the throat, which were very contagious sometimes reaching epidemic proportions. Could have been diphtheria or strep throat. Women of that time were the ones who dealt with illness and nursed the sick. The go-to medical reference was Dr. Buchan’s Domestic Medicine, a copy of which Abigail had carried with her to Europe.

London july 20 [19] 1787my dear sister
I will not plead in excuse that I have not by any of the late vessels received a Line from my Sister, and on that account omit writing to her. I know she would have written to me if she had known early enough of the opportunity I hope she has before this time received all the Letters I have written to her, & the little matters I have sent her— Mrs Cranch wrote me that the Thoat distemper had broken out, with great voilence in Haverhill it is a terrible disease & frequently Baffles the Skill of the Physician. it is so infectious as to expose every person who attends the sick to it, and therefore taking large doses of the Bark in powder is considerd as a good antidote & preservative, but smoking airing washing & cleansing ever article as after the Small Pox in the natural way, is considerd here as absolutely necessary. it has been known to break out in families after the disease had quitted it, only from some infectious garment. I should have advised my sister to have Sent her children immediately out of Town. as she would from the Small Pox in the natural way burning pitch & Tar, Hot viniger, are all good purifiers of the air; I pray Heaven preserve you & yours— I want, yet feel affraid to hear, from you. I hope the warm weather will be the means of abating and removeing the disease. I am something relieved by a Letter from Dr Tufts of the 15 of june if any of my Friends had been sick, he would have mentiond it. . . .
I am my dear Sister with Sincere wishes for / your Health & happiness / your ever affectionate / Sister
A Adams

Source: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.

posted September 1st, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Illness,Shaw, Elizabeth Smith

“if as usual your Stomack abounds with acid”

ABIGAIL ADAMS wrote to her son John Quincy Adams on the day she believed he was graduating from Harvard. Her letter, of course, is full of advice. She includes her recipe to counter an acid stomach—no Tums back then—and notes that she has sent him fabric for a waistcoat and some “very tasty buttons.”

London july 18 1787my Dear Son
I give you joy of the day, as I presume it is commencment with you at Cambridge, and as it is about 4 oclock in the afternoon, I imagine you have past through your performance, I hope with approbation of the hearers, and reputation to yourself, pray favour me with a sight of it by the next opportunity and now I Suppose you will be deliberating with yourself what is next to be done? . . . you proposed, should we return next Spring, perhaps you might chuse to persue your Studies with your Father, that we shall return then if our Lives are Spaired I have no doubt, but till that time you would not chuse to be Idle your Aunt mentiond that you had thoughts of going to mr Dana your pappa would leave you intirly to your own choice, & to mr Dana he can have no objection, and I do not wonder that you should give him the preference on many accounts. it is a very agreeable family if you could get to Board in it. I have a sincere Friendship for Mrs Dana. be sure you give my Love to her; & tell her I hope to Spend many more Sociable Evenings with her, when I return to America. . . .

your Aunt Cranch wrote me that you had been unwell, and I heard from others that you had lost your Flesh. the latter I should not regreet, if ill Health and too close application did not occasion it. I have so frequently admonished you that I would not tire you by a repetition. light food is necessary for a student. if as usual your Stomack abounds with acid, Lime water mixd with milk, which takes away the dissagreeable taste you would find the best antidote, one pound of stone Lime, upon which pour a Gallon of Boiling water Let it stand till clear then pour it of & bottle it, take it twice a day, a large tea cup full mixd with milk—now you need not laugh, for if your food sours, it is impossible it should digest, & from thence arise your complaints. . . .

I have sent you by Captain Barnard Cloth for a coat, it is a fashionable coulour, & the buttons very tasty. you will find a waistcoat pattern with it, and I have given to mrs Wentworth a Boston woman who is a passenger Sattin for a pr of Breeches, which she will leave at uncle Smiths for you; she has been a good deal in the family with me, and I have every reason to believe her a trust worthy woman you have not acknowledg the receipt of your shirts, or told me if they fitted you.

Mr Hollis was in Town to day . . . and dined with us. he has left in my care the works of Dr Jebb*, to be sent to Harvard college. I will Send you a Set as soon as I can get them bound. he was one of the choise ones of the Earth.—I shall direct them to be left at uncle Smiths—

our Good Friends the Dutch are in a dissagreeable situation, as you will see by the publick papers. England and France are arming at all points, what will be the result, time only can devellope. . . .

adieu most affectionately yours—
Abigail Adamsinclosed you find a Louis d’or

*John Disney, The Works, Theological, Medical, Political, and Miscellaneous, of John Jebb: With Memoirs of the Life of the Author, London, 1787.

Source: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.

posted August 29th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Adams, John Quincy,Clothes,Education,Harvard,Health,Illness

A remedy for an earache!

Living in Philadelphia with her family in 1799 while her husband served as secretary of the navy, REBECCA STODDERT kept up a correspondence with her niece Eliza. Her letters included gossip as well as information about personal and domestic matters. And, in this letter, a remedy for an earache!

April 15, 1799My Dear Eliza,—I have been mending up the children’s old clothes to fit them for school. At length Harriet and Nancy go, and when I can get shoes for Richard he will go also. I suppose you are surprised at my saying “when I get shoes.” You will hardly believe that the difficulty of getting such things is greater here than in Georgetown, but so it is. . . .

After a passage in which Mrs. Stoddert writes about the elopement of the daughter of William and Anne Willing Bingham with a French count of “horrid character,” and penniless besides, she goes on to discuss other matters.

I hope long before this my acquaintances have been told it was a mistake about my hair being dressed. I declare, I would not have such a thing supposed for a trifle; notwithstanding I am the only person, almost, if not entirely, that has gone into company with straight locks. But then I have always made use of powder, and I was once under the barber’s hands to cut my hair. . . .

Harriet’s hearing is very near, if not quite, restored. I was advised by Mrs. Wolcott, the secretary of the treasury’s lady, to keep some of Grace’s hair, or any black person’s (as that was most efficacious), pretty moist with the best sweet-oil I could procure, constantly in the ear most affected. This I have done for a month with the greatest success. So much for old women’s receipts, as I suppose they would be called by the doctors. . . .

Grace was in all likelihood a free black servant or, more likely, a slave in the Stoddert household. While oil of some kind has been a common remedy for an earache this is the first time I have seen the recommendation that it be mixed with hair, in this case, of a black person.

Kate Mason Rowland, “Philadelphia a Century Ago, Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 62, 1898, 809-10.

posted May 2nd, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Children,Fashion,Illness,Medicine,Philadelphia,Stoddert, Rebecca Lowndes

next page

   Copyright © 2017 In the Words of Women.