In 1793 and again in 1798, and with repeat performances at odd intervals thereafter until the 1890's, the Yellow Fever disease arrived and wiped out whole families and devastated Philadelphia. Yellow Fever is a viral disease spread by the bite of a particular kind of mosquito - Aedes Aegypti. It was brought from the Caribbean to Phildelphia with the refugees fleeing the slave rebellions and resulting civil chaos in what is now called Haiti.
Thousands of refugees and about 53 ships landed in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and New Orleans carrying the refugees and their possessions and the mosquitos that then decimated these cities.. Upwards of 10% of the population of Philadelphia died in the 1793 epidemic. I have seen and heard a couple of good presentations on this topic one was a cemetary talk at Old Christ Church in Philadelphia after which I bought the excellent book Bring Out Your Dead, which talks about the epidemic and civil attempts to deal with the outcome, the many dead to collect and bury, the mass flight of residents to the countryside and to New Jersey, where they were not always welcome because, as you must remember, at the time, no one knew what caused the disease!
Last night, August 7, Wednesday, I heard Dr. David Barnes, of the Univ. of Pennsylvania give a talk on the Lazaretto at Tinicum Island and the quarantine of ships that was one of the attempts to deal with the sick and stop the spread of the disease. The Lazaretto was a hospital building and quarenatine station. The building still stands and efforts continue to save it and preserve it and the story it has to tell about this time of our history.
We heard this talk at Whitall House because Ann Whitall, the heroine of Red Bank Battle, eventually died of yellow fever, though she did live to the impressive age of 81.
The Next Heritage Sunday at Whitall House is August 18 and it will feature TEA. There will be the usual tours of the main house, and a presentation lasting 20 minutes in the kitchen house - two separate doors for entrance and exit.
Our next lecture in the lecture series is on Midwifery in October. In the 17 years from 1740 to 1757, Ann Whitall gave birth to nine children, of whom eight survived to adulthood. That means she was pregnant for a year and nursing for the following year, that entire time. So many babies! For anyone who has had children, the idea of giving birth to nine of them and raising eight is overwhelming. (Not to mention the idea of childbirth without pain medication!)
For information on the Whitall HOuse, Red Bank Battlefield and any of these programs, call 856-853-5120.
If you want to try dropping by, come after 1:00 Thursday through Sunday. Those are the hours if we have volunteers to cover them. Hope to see you!
Happy Trails, Jo Ann