Saturday, February 21, 2009

St. Nicholas Cemetery in the news

Sorry there was no blog yesterday. Jim, Peter, and I worked a small Phase I job in Prince George's County yesterday...nothing very exciting.

Some time ago, I was approached by Kim Upshaw, a reporter from The Tester, the weekly newspaper of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. She had seen all the recent work we had done at St. Nicholas and asked what we were learning from our excavations. The first thing that occured to me was the large number of children's burials and how many of these children died within weeks and even days of each other. What became evident was the pandemics that swept the area at different times. For instance, there was an outbreak of Diphteria in 1882 and we saw several families whose children all died during that time. Indeed, in one case, six children from one family perished within 2 weeks of each other. A search of the local newspapers from the time talk about the disease being rampant and the large number of people succumbing to it. As is the case with many epidemics, the children and the elderly suffered the greatest losses.

Here is a link to the story.

The print edition shows Jim and I on the cover in a back breaking attempt to lever a large stone out of the ground.

Finding the buried stones at Port Tobacco would add a huge amount to our understanding of the people of the area. Did the same pandemics that devasted St. Mary's County also affect those in other areas? With names and dates from the stones, it would enable us to determine what diseases ran through Port Tobacco at different times and we could compare what we have learned at St. Nicholas to other areas.

No comments: