1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

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1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

 

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School of Medicine, Queen’s University

 

 

When I was doing research Bertha and Gilbert Cardwell I cam across this. I had no idea– so I thought it should be documented.

 

The Kingston Whig Standard, January 8, 1949, by Edwin E. Horsey:

 

It was the 1847 famine in Ireland that was indirectly responsible for the founding of two of Kingston’s charitable institutions — the Home for the Aged and Sunnyside Children’s Home. Both establishments were organized primarily to take care of the widows and orphans left following the scourge of emigrant or ship-fever which claimed 1,200 lives here 101 years ago.

The deadly effects of the dire visitation were felt for years, for, while the progress of the epidemic had been stayed, there remained the problem of caring adequately for the many destitute persons and orphans. It is difficult for us fully to realize today the magnitude of the misery caused by the ravages of the disease, without doubt the greatest in the city’s history.

The plague of ship-fever was brought to Canada when thousands of Irish emigrants, fleeing from famine and pestilence, died during the ocean voyage or on reaching our shores. The United States, sensing danger, closed its ports to the refugees, but almost 100,000 were brought to Canada. While a quarantine was established at Grosse Isle in the lower St. Lawrence, those considered healthy or seeming well were allowed to continue on to Quebec and Montreal. Outbreaks of the plague quickly followed in both cities. It is estimated 20,000 died at lower St. Lawrence River ports.

At Montreal, those with a presumably clean bill of health, and desiring to do so, were permitted to continue further west. Passage was provided on barges and steamboats to Kingston, and so on by vessel to Toronto. But the trail of pestilence and death followed. At Kingston, the bodies of those who died on the last stretch of the river journey were unloaded on to the wharves for hasty removal and burial, while the sick were segregated in an effort to prevent further infection.

 

 

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Kingston Hospital 1890-Credit: Henry Henderson – KGH Archives

 

Old people never ceased telling of the harrowing experiences of those days; how the rumbling death-cart passed through the streets laden with bodies. These were taken to the field south of the present site of the General Hospital, placed side by side in trenches, sprinkled plentifully with quicklime and covered up. A great mound stood there unmarked for many years — the common grave of over 1,200 victims. During the term of the late Archbishop Cleary he had erected, in 1894, the monument now marking this burial place.

However, in face of all precautions taken, the fever spread through the city. Many homes became infected. A council report states: The expenditures of that year (1847) in the city, on account of the indigent emigrants, exceeded £13,000, and had that expenditure been charged upon the city, a special tax exceeding nine shillings in the pound would have been necessary.

 

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School of Rehabilitation Therapy – Queen’s University
With all the moderen facilities for combating contagion at our disposal today, the appearance of a few cases of typhoid or other infectious disease causes a near-panic. But try and picture what conditions must have been in 1847, without any of these aids, when up to 2,500 infected persons and contacts were dumped weekly on the city’s doorstep.

When the epidemic was finally checked in 1848, the destitution following in its wake was of an acute nature. However, having been relieved of the hospital work they had carried on for some 25 years, the members of the Female Benevolent Society turned their attention to making provision for the care of the indigent and friendless.

In a report the secretary of the society, Mrs. Cartwright, outlined the object of the venture, to quote: The crowded state of the hospital and the general prevalence of fever throughout the town prevented the operations of the society from being carried on in the usual manner, but it was at lenghth agreed that efforts should be made for the establishment of a House of Industry, as the most effectual means of affording relief to the many destitute beings left among us by the recent calamitous season of sickness and destitution arising from the awful visitation of famine in Ireland.

As a result of their efforts a stone building then at the head of Princess Street was secured for the reception of widows and orphans. At that time Division Street was generally spoken of as the head of Princess Street, and as far as the present writer could determine the building secured was located at or near the site of the telephone offices.

Having inaugurated this charity, the society took steps to provide for the permanence of the institution as a place of refuge, as they, to further quote the secretary, depreciated the idea of casting out so many helpless beings to cling to a miserable and precarious mode of living about town in worthlessness, begging and vice, or to wander through the country. The members of the society were assisted by a committee of gentlemen, and undertook to devise means of employment for the inmates and promote the sale of articles made.

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In the course of a few years the Female Benevolent Society collected funds, under Mayor Counter’s authority, for a House of Industry. This brought about the acquisition by the city of a stone building on the north side of Earl Street (present Nos. 303-305) with extensive grounds for garden cultivation. A superintendent was engaged to supervise the activities of the inmates, and at the same time a regular board of directors created to carry the responsibilities of management.

The institution remained at the Earl Street location for some 20 years, when it was removed to more suitable premises purchased by the city on Montreal Street. The building has been enlarged and improved as need required; and in 1887 a wing added as a Home for the Aged, the generous gift of the late Dr. Henry Skinner and members of his family.

 

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House of Industry Kingston

 

The Female Benevolent Society, under a branch of their organization known as the Widows and Orphans Friend Society, also undertook the task of doing something definite for widows and orphans, apart from their interest in the House of Industry. Realizing that children should be segregated if good was to be accomplished, the ladies secured a small house as an orphans’ home, and placed a competent matron in charge.

In this manner the Home came into existence, with 12 children as inmates. A school, to which non-resident children were admitted, was conducted at the Home, the classes coming under the supervision of the Common School Board, in 1857, with a qualified teacher in charge. From board records extant, the school made as good a showing as any of the regular elementary public schools.

The small quarters soon became inadequate, so a block of land was purchased at the intersection of Union Street and University Avenue. Through the liberality of the citizens a more commodious institution was erected in the early 1860’s, where, as Miss Machar records, so many destitute children were succored, taught and cared for.

All the children were not a charge of the society. Many were paid for by mothers and fathers, who through necessity could not give them proper care, and consequently placed them in the Home where the best of supervision was provided.

In more recent years the Union Street property was sold to Queen’s University, to be converted into the Students’ Union. At that time Sunnyside was purchased and made use of.

The activities and accomplishments of the devoted members of the Female Benevolent Society are among the outstanding heroic achievements of Kingston’s history, deserving some form of permanent recognition even at this late date.

 

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Clipped from The Brandon Sun13 Aug 1975, WedPage 2

 

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

 

relatedreading

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

The Story of Jane Russell Gibson of Lanark County

The Caterpillar Plague of 1898

The Great White Plague

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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