Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Dead and Beautiful Rest (Cont.): Platypus Travels Part LXXI

Our little stories are all part of larger stories.

This is the grave of Josiah Shelton. He died in 1777 of the Smallpox. The flag by his grave indicates that he was a military veteran. Smallpox decimated the Continental Army on several occasions. These incidents were part of a massive outbreak that racked the North American continent from 1775 until 1782 killing over 100,000 people including Josiah Shelton of Ripton (now Shelton) Connecticut.

I came across Josiah's grave last summer while I was looking up other members of the Shelton family. This summer, I picked up the book Pox Americana by Elizabeth A. Fenn about the massive Variola outbreak at the end of the 18th century. As I was reading, the odd note "died of the smallpox" on Josiah's grave came back to mind. A quick look back at the photo confirmed that he died in 1777, during the early years of the epidemic. Given that smallpox was killing so many in the army, the odd note on his grave about his cause of death now makes sense. His parents, Samuel and Abigail, had no idea of the continent sweeping force of this particular Variola outbreak; they only knew that a terrible disease had taken their son away. If they had know the larger pattern, would it have made a difference.

Where can Wisdom be found, and what is the place of Understanding? ... Death says "I have heard tell of it"

-The Book of Job

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