Thursday, June 11, 2009

Smallpox burials - Harvard, MA

Not far from Poorhouse Rd in Harvard, is a solitary gravemarker. Nearby in the woods there are a number of small ground piles with white rocks - adding to the general suspicion that this is how Indians were buried (at least sometimes).The gravestone reads:
"Here lies the body of Capt. Benjamin Stewart of Boston, who died of the smallpox June 16th 1775, in ye 45th year of his age".

For a long time FFC has speculated that the smallpox patients were moved out to the fringes (which would be true of Harvard, MA in 1775). In this case, possibly the poorhouse was involved with smallpox victims. Anyway, here is a gentleman from Boston buried in Harvard with suspected Indian graves all around. You sense a story. The rock piles are pretty easy to miss:Yet one sees a piece of white rock, not quartz but feldspar this time - aptly called the "poor man's quartz".


With small rock-on-rock structures at the periphery of the area:Also some slightly larger piles off in one direction:Here is one pile that caught my eye:This reminds me of some similar structure I saw in Falmouth [click here and scroll down].

I think FFC has made a good guess. It seems reasonable that a smallpox victim would be moved out to the poorhouse in Harvard, and then buried with the other poor who, at the time, happened to be Indians. Why Indians? Well who buries anyone under a rock pile with a white rock? I suppose this is circular reasoning.

2 comments :

pwax said...

Maybe the structure I am seeing is a construction principle rather than a design. I am noticing a slight tendency toward spiral lines of stones formed by the consecutive placements of the rocks in the pile.

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