Smallpox Hospital Cemetery

Smallpox Hospital Cemetery (Defunct) (1778)

  • Location: Franklin St., “one hundred feet, more or less, south of the Whitman-Hanson town line on the easterly side of Franklin Street in said town and thence about six hundred feet, more or less, in an easterly direction”. On the grounds of current Whitman-Hanson Regional High School. In 1957, the remains in this cemetery were exhumed and moved. The remains of Amos Whitmarsh, the only marked grave, were re-interred in Mount Zion Cemetery, Whitman. Remains located in unmarked graves may have been moved to Colebrook Cemetery in Whitman.
  • References and transcriptions of its gravestone are also available at: History of the Town of Hanson (Hanson, MA: Hanson Historical Committee, 1959), Chapter 14: Cemeteries and Burial Grounds; abbreviated in Vital Records of Abington as G.R.11.

Excerpt from History of the Town of Hanson: “Still another was located on Franklin Street, just north of the Pox House R.R. crossing on the right-hand side. A house used to stand in this vicinity many years ago called the pox house where small-pox patients were cared for. Those who died of the dread disease were hastily buried to prevent the spread of the plague”.

The smallpox hospital was created as a response to the smallpox epidemic which began in Boston in 1775 at the start of the Revolutionary War, and quickly spread to both soldiers and civilians alike throughout the course of the war. The Abington [now Whitman] smallpox hospital operated for several years during the Revolutionary War under the care of Dr. David Jones Jr., probably at least from 1775-1778. According to History of the Town of Abington [p. 135], Dr. David Jones “practised in town for a year or two, about 1775. He had a hospital for small-pox patients on the spot where now stands the house occupied by Allen Leach, Franklin Street. He lived in the old Major John Cushing House, about one-half mile south of the then North Abington meeting-house. He afterwards removed to North Yarmouth, now in the state of Maine. He served for a time as a surgeon in the Revolutionary War. He married [at Abington, 17 June 1778] Elizabeth Hobart, daughter of Colonel Aaron Hobart by his first wife… [Dr. Jones] was held in high reputation as a physician”.

Burial with Gravestone:

  • Whitmarsh, Amos, s. Jacob and Hannah, 8 January 1778, in 7th y.

Probable several additional burials without gravestones.

In 1957, permission was granted to exhume the burials from the Smallpox Hospital Cemetery:

Massachusetts Acts and Resolves, 1957. Chap. 488. AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE WHITMAN-HANSON REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT TO REMOVE AND RE-INTER CERTAIN REMAINS LOCATED IN GRAVES IN THE TOWN OF HANSON AND THE TOWN OF WHITMAN.

Be it enacted, etc., as follows:

SECTION 1. The Whitman-Hanson Regional School District is hereby authorized to remove all remains in any grave or graves in the property of Charles A. Oertel in the town of Hanson, said graves being located at a point one hundred feet, more or less, south of the Whitman-Hanson town line on the easterly side of Franklin Street in said town and thence about six hundred feet, more or less, in an easterly direction. After such removal the said district shall re-inter the remains of Amos Whitmarsh, son of Jacob and Hannah Whitmarsh, in the Mount Zion Cemetery in the town of Whitman in his family lot, and shall re-inter any other remains so removed in any other cemetery located in the town of Whitman or in the town of Hanson marking the new graves in so far as now marked, or may permit any descendant or relative to remove the remains of such person, and re-inter such remains in accordance with applicable laws and regulations concerning burial.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon its passage. Approved June 29, 1957.

 

Former site of the Smallpox Hospital Cemetery, on the Hanson side of the Whitman-Hanson line near the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School athletic fields. Photograph courtesy of Maria McClellan.

Former site of the Smallpox Hospital Cemetery, on the Hanson side of the Whitman-Hanson line near the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School athletic fields. Photograph courtesy of Maria McClellan.