Tag Archives: Cholera

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

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

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Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

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The Watt family was not the only one suffering great hardships trying to establish a home in Ontario, and for Part 4 I am going to discuss what the Crozier family went through. I found this by accident as I was doing research for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum’s Cemetery walk October 28th(rain date 29th). It began with the discovery of the Crozier headstones at St. James Cemetery, and I now find myself knee deep in that family’s history. I have even had contact with genealogist Fern Dyck in Alberta who has sent me some added information about the family.

I am going to repost this amazing excerpt from The Williams-Rafter Family History, by Ethel Rafter Williams (Rochester, N.Y., 1962) and add a few links and pictures to the story. Of anything I have read– this short piece from a genealogy site hits you in the heart. We need to be so grateful to the early settlers– so very grateful.

The Crozier Family Arrival in the New World

The Croziers were Scotch Irish emigrants to America, families which had left Scotland for religious or political reasons and moved to Northern Ireland, whence after varying periods of time they made their way to the New World. Generally, they came in search of economic opportunity that they could not find in Ireland.

There is reason to believe that John Crozier, the ancestor of the Crozier family in America, lived in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Northern Ireland. There is no known record of his birth or death, but it is known that he died before 1832. The family had originally come over from the Border Country between Scotland and England with a group of religious dissenters. John Crozier had two wives: Ellen Knight, who had four children, and Anna Coffle, who had eight.

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During the years from 1820 to 1832 an epidemic of cholera, starting in Russia, swept through northern Europe. It attacked countries and cities along the highways of travel. The nature of the disease was not understood: there was no known, effective means of combating it. Accordingly, wherever it went, it spread despair and death. The terror-stricken peasantry of Europe abandoned their homes and fled to other provinces or countries, hoping to escape the dreadful scourge. Not uncommon was it for whole villages to band themselves into a little colony, charter a ship and set out to find new homes across the sea.

Quite frequently, in their unwillingness to be separated from their loved ones, they would take with them individuals known to be infected with the disease, with the result that whole parties were destroyed, and all records of them were completely lost.

In one such party Robert Crozier, with members of his family, came to North America in the year 1832. They were part of a large group which had chartered a small sailing vessel, with the intention of forming a colony in the State of Ohio. They sailed up the St. Lawrence River as far as the draught of their vessel would permit, disembarked, and abandoned the ship near the rapids beyond Montreal. They portaged around the rapids and then constructed some crude flat-bottomed boats and rafts. On these they loaded their meager possessions. By means of poles and sails, they resumed the journey, following the Ontario shoreline up the St. Lawrence, hoping eventually to reach their destination — Ohio.

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Long before the arrival of this party, the colonists on both sides of the river had heard of the terrible scourge which was devastating Europe. Fearful of the plague, they took measures to protect themselves from the disease which the fleeing Europeans were certain to bring with them. Guards were organized, and practically the whole Canadian shore from Montreal to Kingston was patrolled by armed men to prevent any landing by immigrants.

Along this unfriendly and inhospitable shore, the party of which Robert Crozier and his family were members worked their way. A number of times they tried to land to get fresh food and shelter from the cold, raw winds and rain. Each time, however, they were driven back by hostile farmers. Finally, sickness broke out, probably the dreaded cholera and hunger drove the terrified travelers to desperation.

Under the cover of darkness, they effected a landing near Brockville, Ontario, and took possession of an old barn on the Cryler farm for the night. By this time the guards had heard of the landing, and began to attack them. A fight ensued which lasted all night. The poor immigrants had no weapons to match the shotguns of the Canadian farmers, so that by morning they beat a retreat. Many of them died during the night from sickness and exposure. The living scattered in all directions.

Elizabethtown Township 1891 (click here for 1891 map of eastern Ontario [634K])Some were driven back to the river. Others, carrying what possessions they could, fled inland. Thus, families and friends became separated, many of them never to see one another again. Those who succeeded in gaining the boats worked their way up the river to the Great Lakes, making settlements along the route. Some went to Upper Canada: others settled in Ohio and Michigan.

New-France_5_4_1_Cholera-Plague-QuebecCholera Plague, Quebec

Among those who escaped inland at Brockville was Robert Crozier with some of his family and friends. This small party first made a settlement at a place now known as Elizabethtown. There they built stone houses and barns, and began life again as farmers. It is doubtful if they could have picked a lonelier, more uninviting and poorer farming country than the one they selected. Only by the hardest kind of toil was it possible to eke out a living. The more progressive members of the little community gradually located elsewhere, and Elizabethtown never developed beyond the crude stages of its beginning.

ONWEN14566-P1974-CanadaGenWeb-Cemetery-Ontario-WentworthSection P of Hamilton, ONtario cemetery contains the mostly unmarked graves of victims of the cholera epidemics 1832-1854

This story of the Crozier family’s arrival in America is based on notes taken by John R. Williams on a trip to Canada in 1896. He had gone to visit his mother’s brother, Uncle Demetrius Crozier. His uncle took him to Elizabethtown to call upon his old aunt, Mrs. Ann Berry, a sister of Robert Crozier. She had been a member of the party which had come to Canada in 1832. Born in Ireland in 1815, she was then an old lady of eighty-one, but had a remarkable memory. She recited an almost complete record of her family, both before and after coming to Canada.

Next installment- The Dreaded Lachine Rapids