SMALLPOX EPIDEMIC

IN LIVERPOOL, NOVA SCOTIA

December 1800 to April 1801

As recorded in the diary of Simeon Perkins, chief magistrate.

Transcription and notes by Thomas H. Raddall.
Diary Entries (December 10, 1800 to May 13, 1801)

Death Totals

Small Pox Links


Diary Entries

Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1800 The smallpox is broke out among us. The wife of Prince Harris, mulatto, and one of Willis's daughters are both thought to have it, and Enoch Godfrey at the Herring Cove, lately from Halifax, is broke out. The people are alarmed and wish to have them removed. Colonel Freeman, myself, with Mr. Thomas go to see John Roberts' house at the southern end of his fish lot, and conclude to have the black women removed there. Godfrey is said to be very bad and wishes not to be moved. Joseph Barss Esq. goes to the Cove with Esq. Dexter to consult and do the needful.

Friday, Dec. 12th I hear the black women are removed to the house proposed. Godfrey was so ill last night that Doctor Woodberry advised not to move him. His pox did not come out.

Saturday, Dec. 13th Godfrey is still at his house. Some people have moved. He is in a bad way. His pox does not come out properly.

Sunday, Dec. 14th I hear Godfrey is dangerous. His pock turns purple, his throat is sore and he has a pain in his stomach.

Monday, Dec.15th I am informed that Enoch Godfrey died last night of the Small Pox. It was a very malignant kind and did not fill but turned red and purple. He was very much choked up. The Negro women are said to be doing well.

Tuesday, Dec. 23th Thomas Whittimore is said to have the small pox, is breaking out. A boy of Jesse Phillips has the symptoms. Suppose Whittimore took it from the black people.

Friday, Dec, 26th Major Tupper is applying for liberty to inoculate his family at The Falls, in his own house, or at Potanoc. The people at the falls are much opposed to it.

Saturday, Dec. 27th The people at The Falls remonstrate by a petition to the Magistrate addressed to me, against the small pox being introduced into their neighborhood. The magistrates meet and consult. They write to Mr. Tupper wishing him to desist and wait for the Kine Pox, and say they cannot consent to his inoculating in his own house.

Monday. Dec. 29th Mr. Tupper agrees to have the inoculations at a small house where John Connelly used to live near the river, the easterly side below Birch Point. The magistrates and people are agreeable to it, and the Falls people are willing to fix up the house.

Tuesday, Dec. 30th The Falls people get Connelly's house ready to receive the inoculated people. I understand 12 have been inoculated, viz: Nathan Tupper Jr. and wife and some others of Major Tupper's family. Colonel Freeman with the people in Town are about to build a house near what is called Brown's House, back of Birch Point, or up the road below Birch Point. A considerable number of people are at work getting the timber and clearing the place. I conclude it is on my land.

Note: This 'pest house' was about a mile west of the present Liverpool-Milton highway, far behind Birch Point. In (?) times, a lane led back to a small farm there, probably 'Brown's'.

Wednesday, Dec. 3lst News that the small pox is mortal in Halifax. The inoculated people go to the house fitted for them. Colonel Freeman is going on with his house. I write a subscription by which the house is to belong to the town, and the subscription to be repaid if the town pleases. The Overseers of the Poor have the care of the house.

Saturday, Jan. 3, 180l Thomas Whittimore, son of the late Josiah Whittimore died this morning of the small pox at Mr. John Roberts' small house at the SE end of the fish lots back of his house. His mother is now a distressed widow; her other son is on board a man of war and she has two or three small Children.

Tuesday, Jan. 6 I hear Nathan Tupper Jr. begins to have the symptoms of the small pox, but none of the others in that house. Mrs. Stokes at the Cove has a child lately taken with it, and the girl, taken some time ago, is nearly recovered.

Thursday, Jan. 22 Thos. Parker and wife with two of Snow Parker's children, and about 8 or 9 more, are gone into the house at the marsh were Willis used to live.

Friday, Jan. 23 Anna Allen, Mrs. Jane Allen's daughter, is sick with the symptoms of the small pox and is said to have some eruptions.

Sunday, Jan. 25 Doctor Woodberry has determined Anna Allen's disorder to be the small pox. Mr. Allen applies to me for a place to move her, and considering the necessity of the place I agree she may be removed to Anthony Smith's, which I hear some people are disgusted at, as being too near. She is moved accordingly.

Monday, Jan. 26 The new hospital back of Birch Point is ready and 39 persons, old and young, besides the nurses, are gone in and inoculated this day, which will make near 80 in all.

Tuesday, Jan. 27 Mr. John More and some others are proposing to be inoculated at Rob. Dolliver's house, and I hear another set at Mr. Chadmey's. Mr. Alexander Stevenson is proposing to commence the business. I consult with Mr. Kirk on the propriety of my wife being inoculated, on account of her being subject to the St. Anthony's fire. He thinks if she has none of it about her, she might venture.

Wednesday, Jan. 28 I go with Mr. Newton, my wife, and his wife, to the house of Robert Dolliver to see if it will answer for inoculating in. The house is rather too open, one room not clapboarded nor shingled, and the best room rather cold. I do not much approve of it. On our return I find a number of gentlemen assembled at my store. It seems to be their opinion that the small pox will spread, and that in the present mode of inoculation it will be a long time getting through. They therefore request me to set up advertisements for a consultation to be held at the court house tomorrow at ten o'clock. I write advertisements accordingly, and sign them as town olerk, Anna Allen is in the natural way, has the disorder so far as well as could be expected for the kind she has got, as it is something of the confluent kind. Those at the pest houses over the river doing well. Those at Birch Point are inoculated again this day, as Doctor Woodberry was a little fearful of the virtue of the matter he first used.

Thursday, Jan. 29 The consultation about the small pox is held at the court house. I am chosen chairman. Many people spoke on the subject, some for a general inoculation in people's houses, some against it. Finally it was put to a vote and carried against it by a great majority. The Inoculation Law of the 16th year of George 3rd was read, and much was said on the subject, and finally it was put to a vote whether inoculation might be carried on under the direction of a committee of eighteen nominated, and all agreed to. They are to regulate the hospitals and anything necessary respecting the business for the safety of the inhabitants. The committee met at Mr. Manning's and appropriated several houses besides the present pest houses, viz: John Thomas, Esq., Abel Chadsey, Robert Dolliver and some house at Black Point. Doctor Woodberry appeared, and requested liberty to inoculate some that were going into infected houses, at their homes, and to allow them to remain four days to see if the infection has taken, to prevent the risk of the patient taking it in the natural way, and that if it had not taken in four days, they might remain longer under the inspection of some of the committee, which he was going to inoculate. It was also agreed by the oommittee that a white flag should be hung out at all infected places, and at such houses where the people were inoculated previous to their going to hospitals.

Friday, Jan. 30 King Charles' Martyrdom. Much perturbation and great anxiety about the small pox. The health committee met at Mr. Phillips Tavern. They make a calculation of 124 from the mill brook down to the point, that wish to be inoculated, and think they have houses sufficient, or nearly enough provided, to take them all in one class.

Saturday, Jan. 31 Great commotion about the small pox. Hallet Collins Esq. is about to inoculate his family in Mrs. Taylor's house and some others talk of inoculating in their own houses. Mr. Newton and myself are conferring with Mr. Kirk about our families and procuring nurses etc. to have the disorder at the house of John Thomas Esq., which he is so obliging as to offer for our accommodation. I forgot to mention that night before last, being very stormy, the small house at Herring Cove where was Mr. Stokes' family, and Mrs. Ellenwood and son, took fire and was consumed. The sick were carried to Mr. Stokes house in the storm, some of them very bad with the disorder.

Sunday, Feb. 1 Mr. Kirk has sent a lad to Shelburne for some medicine for inoculation, which he is out of.

Wednesday, Feb. 4 This morning my family, Mrs. Perkins, 6 Children and boy Isaac at home, 8 in all, begin a course of physic for inoculation, also my daughter Newton and a grandchild Charlotte Ann Newton. Mr. Kirk has undertaken to be their inoculating physician as a particular act of friendship, for which we are much indebted to him, as there is now such a number of pest houses and there is so many people going under the operation that it wouid be difficult for Doctor Woodberry to attend them all. Mr. Alex Stevenson has also a number of people under his care, which he has inoculated this day at Mr. Chadsey's and Dolliver's.

Thursday, Feb. 5 Mrs. Perkins is somewhat at a loss on account of her weakness, whether to be inoculated or not.

Friday, Feb. 6 My family, except Mrs. Perkins and Isaac, take the second portion of physic for inoculation, rhubarb and calomel. Mrs. Perkins is a little touched with Saint Anthony's Fire and seems a little afraid of the consequence of the sma1l pox. The people at the pest houses are doing pretty well today, except an infant of Lemuel Drew's which sucked its infected mother end is very bad.

Saturday, Feb. 7 Mr. Kirk calls to see Mrs. Perkins. He and Mr. Newton give her such encouragement that I think she will venture to inoculate.

Sunday, Feb. 8 Mrs. Perkins takes her second preparatory dose of physic for the inoculation and seems in better spirits. At evening Mr. Kirk calls and leaves a potion for all the children, to be taken this evening, and another in the morning, which I suppose is salts.

Tuesday, Feb. 10 My family, that is, my wife, Lucy, Eliza, Eunice, Mary, Simeon and Charlotte are inoculated by Mr. John Kirk, all in the left hand between the thumb and forefinger, not in the loose skin but on the hand, by making a small incision and laying an infected thread into it about 3/8 of an inch in length. He then put on a small square rag, doubled, and over that a bandage to keep it in place. My wife stood the operation very well. Some of the children were faint. My daughter Newton, her daughter and servant girl are all inoculated and come to my house.

Thursday, Feb. 12 John Kempton is said to have the small pox in the natural way. My family are as comfortable as can be expected all but Elizabeth appear to have taken the infection.

Friday, Feb. 13 I make a path up to my Barbary lot for my family to divert themselves in walking and riding.

Monday, Feb. l6 A considerable number of people about the Parade were inoculated yesterday in their own homes and expect to remain there. Molly Freeman and little Elkanah Freeman join them, they are under Mr. Stevenson's care. Mr. Elkanah Freeman is inoculated this day. At the pest houses they have it favorable in general, but some are bad, Joseph Godfrey in particular. My family are comfortable except Mrs. Perkins has a pain under her arm. When my family were inoculated I expected they would remove to the house of John Thomas Esq., but as some in my neighborhood have came home from the pest house, and others are inoculated near me, and in many parts of the town, I have determined to remain in my own house.

Tuesday, Feb. 17 I take a walk with my inoculated family as far as Mr. Chadsey 's, where there is a houseful inoculated and seem to be in a very good way as to the main disorder; their arms are sore and some have sore mouths. Robert Dolliver's house has a number, I did not go there but from hearsay they are all doing well. They are all under the care of Mr. Alexander Stevenson, school master; he has had some knowledge of the practice but is not a professed physician. Some of the people at Birch Point are very bad, others have done well and are come out. Those that I hear are bad are as follows: Lemuel Drew's wife, a grand-daughter of Joshua Boomer by the name of McCumber, Nathan Tupper Esq. and Capt. Thomas Parker, that have got through and returned to their houses, are in a poor state, and much exercised with boils. All these were inoculated by Doctor Woodberry. There is now supposed to be 400 under the operation including those that have got through, and I do not hear of any serious cases except those at Birch Point.

In the afternoon I hear that Joseph Godfrey died some time since noon. My family have some of the slight symptoms of the disorder approaching.

Wednesday, Feb. 18 My family continue much as yesterday. Mrs. Drew at the Birch Point hospital is said to be very ill.

Thursday, Feb. 19 Most of my family complain of pains and some swelling under their arms and a nausea in their taste. They continue the prescribed regimen and drink plentiful of cold water also water with a tea spoonful of Cream of Tartar dissolved in a quart of water. They have some fever.

Friday, Feb. 20 Most of the family take a walk. Mrs. Perkins seems very week and unwilling to walk out, but with persuasion she walks out a little and feels stronger, then walks to Esquire Hopkins, which gave her courage to get into the sleigh, to ride as far as John Thomas's. She is weak and complaining all day. Eunice has a big fever, all the rest are pretty comfortable.

Saturday, Feb.21 My family come forward in the small pox as well as can be expected. Eunice is somewhat light-headed and Lucy a little. They ride out and find advantage by riding and walking. Some eruption is noticed on most of them at evening.

Sunday, Feb. 22 Few people at meeting and no meeting at Mr. Payzant's house. Some of my family ride out. Benjamin Freeman, his daughter Polly, at Josiah Freeman's, are very ill and thought to be in danger. A son of William Ford at the Moose Hill hospital is very bad and his life despaired of. These are all Doctor Woodberry's patients. Those of Mr. Kirk and Mr. Stevenson seem so far as I can learn to be doing well. Mrs. MacDonald's child dies and is buried. It had returned from the hospital to her house.

Note: The Moose Hill 'hospital' was a wooden house or shack on the west side of what is now called Milford Street, Milton. It stood on property owned in 1950 by Edward Cronks(?).

Monday Feb. 23 My family, except Simeon and Isaac, have more or less of the pustules come out. Simeon has some fever.

Tuesday Feb. 24 My birthday. I now enter my 67th year. I hear Benjamin Freeman is growing some better, that his daughter remains dangerously ill. William Ford's son, a lad of about 12, died last night of the small pox by inoculation; this makes three deaths under or after inoculation. A son of Jonathan Smith is dangerously ill. He was inoculated by Mr. Stevenson and in a good way. His pock turned yesterday or the day before, he went hunting rabbits and wet his feet. Benjamin Freeman's daughter died this day, making four deaths under the inoculation.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 My family are comfortable, the pecks begin to fill. They walk out to air themselves.

Thursday, Feb. 26 My family appear pretty well. Betsy and Simeon have sore throats but not very bad; the pocks on some of them are filled, and a little yellowish in the face. I do not expect many more will appear if they are careful. My wife and daughter Newton, for whom I had the most anxiety, seem to do as well as the others. Mrs. McAdam is the worst. She has more pocks, this morning complains of a bad headache.

In the afternoon my son John goes to see Benjamin Freeman. He is getting better. His pock is turned end the swelling abated in his neck and faces, has no sore throat, has an appetite and feels inwardly well. Jonas Smith's son Nathaniel, who has been in a dangerous case for some days, died this day. This makes five dead after inoculation.

Friday, Feb. 27 My family are as well as I can expect. They take a ride on the Moose Harbour Road.

Saturday, Feb. 28 My family getting along very well, the pocks on some of them nearly dried. Mrs. Bradford and Capt. Joseph Freeman's wife are inoculating; Thomas Freeman also. Lemuel Drew 3rd and his wife are both very poorly; he has some pleurisy and she is weak by reason of having the small pocks hard, and not being in a good state before.

Monday, March 2 I hear Norman Mackenzie's wife is dead, makes 6 dead after inoculation.

Tuesday, March 3 Mrs. MacDonald has lost another child by inoculation, which makes 7 dead by inoculation. My family are riding out and are comfortable.

Wednesday, March 4 A schooner arrived from Lunenburg in the night, reports many people dying of the small pox there. It is now the request of the magistrates and other principal inhabitants that the inoculation should stop, and I understand the inoculators are willing to give it over. Mr. Stevenson told me yesterday he would not inoculate any more to remain in town. Mr. Kirk gives my family their last physic, salts, except Charlotte Ann Newton has tincture of jalap. Isaac is to have one more. Simeon is to take his last tomorrow night.

Friday, March 6 Willis Herbert, black man, has a child dead of small pox. It has been exposed ever since the first coming of that disorder and had been inoculated, but did not take it till lately. Several people are sickly, after the small pox is over, they have sore arms and some have swellings. Jabez Freeman is said to be in a dangerous way, has a swelling on his cheek, and now in his stomach.

Saturday, March 7 I hear Jabez Freeman died at the Falls last night about sunset. He was under inoculation by Doctor Woodberry.

Tuesday, March 10 Pleasant morning. I ride out in Capt. Perkins sleigh with Betsy and Mrs. Perkins. We call to see Elkanah Freeman, he remains much in the same way. His pocks especially on his stomach have a bad appearance.

Wednesday, March 11 Mr. Newton's Janet was sick yesterday and this morning and has an eruption which looks like the small pox. My daughter Mary has a high fever and I feel alarmed that it may be the small pox, as she had but little of it under the inoculation. Mr. Kirk administers an emetic which has given her some relief.

Friday, March 13 Mary has an eruption come out this morning, looks like measles except some pustules are too large and look like small pox. She is now much easier and feels no great complaint beside a soreness in her throat, and weakness. Mr. Freeman remains in an alarming condition. This evening Mr. Stevenson put a blister on the incision in his arm. Mrs. Miller said to be better. William Chadsey is very ill. John Gorham lost a child some time in the night, is buried this morning.

Saturday, March 14 My daughter Polly has the appearance of small pox. Mr. Kirk has not determined. Her throat is very sore and the eruption fills a little. Snow Parker's child died this afternoon and under inoculation in the natural way.

Sunday, March 15 Polly's eruption increases in size and is determined by Mr. Kirk to be the small pox. She was inoculated the 10th of February, the poison matter has lain dormant about 30 days, or she must have taken it in the natural way. I go to see Mr. E. Freeman between meetings, find him much worse and think he cannot live without a miracle. The putrefaction appears in his face and the pecks on his body are purple.

Monday, March 16 A little before 12 o'clock last night I was called upon for a shirt and sheet to lay out the body of Elkanah Freeman as he is dying. I provide them and John goes with the man. Mr. Freeman departed at 3 o'clock this morning. I go end advise where to dig the grave. The coffin is making. We conclude to bring the corps to the burying ground this afternoon while the tide up, and to have the burying at half past 2 o'clock, which was attended accordingly. Mr. Olivant read the funeral service at the grave, a considerable number of people attended; his wife is in a melancholy situation being far advanced in her pregnancy, and a family of small children, 7 daughters and 1 son. The son is now under the small pox and has a bad kind of pock.

Tuesday, March 17 William Chadsey 21 years old died this day of small pox. He had been inoculated more than once, but whether it never took, or whether he had taken it in the natural way, is uncertain; it proved to be of the worst kind, purple blotches, he died in convulsions. This makes 12 dead after inoculation and 3 in the natural way. I have no regular account how many have had the disorder by inoculation but it is computed at 700, and there is now upward of 100 at Sandy Cove and Herring Cove 100; Port Medwey is not taken into the computation.

Wednesday, March 18 My daughter Polly has the small pox as favourable as can be expected; it is on the turn on her face. She walked down the stairs this day, many of the pustules on her face and arms have opened, which gives relief to the tightness of the skin, and is recommended to mitigate the secondary fever.

Thursday, March 19 Polly's hands are swelling and she complains of great soreness. The swelling in her face has subsided a little. Her feet are swollen. Her throat and nostrils are clear, so that she speaks considerably well.

Sunday, March 22 We have a thin congregation. Mr. Payzant has a few at his meeting. Several new ones have broken out with small pox. Pitts Snow and Mich. Turpin, both inoculated some time ago and it did not take. Also Paul Harding's wife. She and her parents thought she had the disorder when very young, in the natural way. Daniel Collins, blockmaker, was inoculated when about 10 years of age and has been frequently amongst it, and is now broke out.

Wednesday, March 25 John Roberts, carpenter, lost a child in the night, under inoculation. Makes 12 dead under the operation.

Friday, March 27 Thomas Millard's wife is sick and Doctor Falt says it is the small pox. Some are come out. She is pregnant about 5 months and has taken the disorder, as is supposed, by her husband and children often going to the window and talking to her while they were under inoculation.

Sunday, March 29 Mr. Barry arrives from Shelburne, says inoculation is going on there among the children very successfully.

Monday, March 30 Capt. Zeb. Perkins is fitting the ship Nymph. Doctor Falt has inoculated a number of the privateersmen.

Thursday, April 2 Job Huskin has lost a child in the night with the small pox. Thos. Murray has lost a twin child.

Saturday, April 4 A black woman, Jane, that sometime ago lived with Thos. Phelan died this morning with small pox at old Tony Lyle's.

Monday, April 6 A town meeting for the poor. Voted to pay for Joseph Wood's house 37/8/0 and also to raise 80 for the poor. Adjourned to the 20th.

Thursday, April 9 Eunice Smith is very ill with pain in her side and very weak, she has the small pox very hard by inoculation, and never recovered. A boy of Eben Harrington that was inoculated is afflicted with ulcers, it is maid that his shoulder and collar bone have parted and one of them can be seen. David Barss' wife is also very ill. She had a swelling in the thigh which was opened last Sunday and ran 3 pints of matter. She now has another swelling on her shoulder, supposedly in consequence of inoculation.

Saturday, April 11 Eunice Smith died this morning, is buried this afternoon.

Tuesday, Apri1 14 The General Sessions and the Inferior Court of Common Pleas are opened. The Grand end Petit jurors are deficient on account of the small pox. Those that had not the disorder are afraid to come. The courts are adjourned to the first Tuesday in May, hoping by that time the small pox will be clear of the place.

Sunday, April 26 A mulatto child of Jane Mingo (who herself died of small pox a little time ago) died this day of the small pox at Anthony Lyle's.

Wednesday, April 29 Mrs. Aspin that has been nurse to my family through the small pox is gone passenger in the Charles M. Wentworth. We part with her with regret, as she has been very attentive and agreeable to all the family. The town meeting vote they will not have anything to do with the pest house back of Birch Point.

Wednesday, May 13 Doctor Woodberry, who has resided here for same time, has put his baggage on board Capt. Hicks for Annapolis, and goes with his wife through the Nictaux Road, his two sons having come through with 3 or 4 horses.


Death Totals

Total deaths: 20

Deaths due to natural infection: 3

Deaths due to inoculation: 17

Total inoculated: 900+ in Milton-Liverpool-Herring Cove (Brooklyn)

Mortalities

Enoch Godfrey, December 15, 1800 (natural)

Joseph Godfrey, February 17, 1801 (inoculation)

Child of Mrs. MacDonald, February 22, 1801 (inoculation)

Son of William Ford, February 22, 1801 (inoculation)

Daughter of Benjamin Freeman, February 22, 1801 (inoculation)

Nathaniel Smith, February 26, 1801 (inoculation)

Wife of Norman MacKenzie, March 2, 1801 (inoculation)

Child of Mrs. MacDonald, March 3, 1801 (inoculation)

Child of Willis Herbert, March 6, 1801 (inoculation)

Jabez Freeman, March 7, 1801 (inoculation)

Child of John Gorham, March 13, 1801 (inoculation)

Child of Snow Parker, March 14, 1801 (natural)

Elkanah Freeman, March 16, 1801 (inoculation)

William Chadsey, March 17, 1801 (natural)

Child of John Roberts, March 25, 1801 (inoculation)

Child of Job Huskins, April 2, 1801 (inoculation)

Child (twin) of Thomas Murray, April 2, 1801 (inoculation)

Jane Mingo, April 4, 1801

Eunice Smith, April 11, 1801

Child of Jane Mingo, April 26, 1801


Small Pox Links

Edward Jenner and the Discovery of Vaccination http://www.sc.edu/library/spcoll/nathist/jenner.html


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