Looking through the memoirs of Abraham Holmes, born in 1754, he mentions various relatives and other Rochester residents who lived into their 80’s and 90’s, but they are greatly outnumbered by the many who “died young, ” often in early childhood. He mentions people who died by drowning, in war, in house fires, from exploding guns and other violent causes, but also those who died of diseases that we probably know by other names. Throat distemper, canker or cancer and pleurisy are mentioned often. He also refers to those who died during “the times of the Epidemic Fever” which unfortunately reminds me too much of the present.
As we begin a third year of dealing with Covid 19, I believe that this pandemic will take up a lot of space in future history texts. History is, of course, merely a story of people’s lives and what we do today will be the history studied by our great grandchildren and those who come after them. While wars, treaties and court decisions are important to history, I find the daily lives of people and the way public events affect them more interesting.
There have been and will continue to be many stories that come from the pandemic and its effect on our lives — some horrible, others perhaps more positive, so once again I’m requesting material to add to our files at the Historic Society. This time I’d like to read about a change you’ve made or an activity you’ve added to your life. An example would be: I did my first jigsaw puzzles at home. Reports of these seemingly small changes are what add depth to the history we’re creating.
You can send a picture, a word, a phrase or a paragraph to me at email@example.com or to Rochester Historical Society, P.O. Box 322, Rochester 02770 or drop it off with Lorraine or Carol Hardy at the COA (when it reopens.) One result of the pandemic that we’ve all seen is our need to communicate through signs and flags adorning our yards. They celebrate accomplishments and express viewpoints and feelings. While there are fewer of them these days, I think we’ll continue for some time expressing our emotions through signs on our lawns and hearts on our trees.
By Connie Eshbach