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It Is the Snowstorm of the Century!

Last December, New England was buried under 5 feet of snow. It isn't unusually cold this January but from around February 18th to March 9th, New England is hit by a series of storms, each dumping about 5 feet of snow over the landscape. Drifts are as deep as 25 feet. Entire houses are covered over and the only indication that a house exists underneath is a thin wisp of smoke. The residents are burning their furniture because they can no longer reach their woodsheds. Boston is shut down, and church services are cancelled. Livestock losses are devastating and over 90% of the deer population will not survive to spring. This unusual series of storms is probably due to the recent volcanic activity in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. From now on, life will be measured from the time before the Great Snow of 1717 and the time after. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Blizzard of 2016 this January, dumped an unusual amount of snow over a wide area of New England, but compared to the Great Snow of 1717, it was nothing. I heard anxious claims of snow fall measurements approaching record-breaking depths. The previous record they were referring to was from the Great Blizzard of 1888 which dumped about 40 inches of snow in New York and more throughout New England. The Great Snow of 1717 was a series of Great Blizzards. I also heard complaints about stores being depleted of food supplies. That is due to people not being prepared for the normal and expected problems that occur in their region. Imagine what might have happened if the snowstorms continued? Trucks and trains would be shutdown. The food you had in your pantry would be all there was for weeks. Under the weight of so much snow, electrical lines would eventually fail, and what would people do then? Are snowstorms really such an unexpected occurrence in New England during the winter? [5]

Lady Mary Introduces Smallpox Inoculation

While living in Istanbul with her husband, Lady Mary spends a great deal of time with the local women. The houses are split into three living areas, one part for guests, a second part for men, and the third part is the living area for women. Naturally, children are raised in this area, and Lady Mary notes that in September, the women of the neighborhood gather to have their children inoculated with small-pox. A woman arrives with a small walnut shell filled with small-pox pus. A needle is used to scratch the skin of a child and introduce some of the pus to the wound. Several scratches are made on the skin. Thereafter the children are immune from this deadly disease. Lady Mary is amazed. Her own brother had died from small-pox a few years ago and she had recently recovered from it herself. Lady Mary will write to her friend, Sarah, and suggest that England would benefit from this life-saving practice. Unfortunately, when Lady Mary returns to England, the medical community will denigrate the practice as some sort of folk medicine. The practice will spread slowly, nevertheless. [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The idea behind inoculation is to force the immune system to react to a weak form of the virus so that one can be made immune to later infections. Certainly, small-pox live virus inoculation has its problems... not least of which is that one can get full-blown small-pox if one's immune system can't fight off the virus in time. Some people noticed that milkmaids didn't have much of a problem fighting off small-pox and they gained a reputation for being healthy and clear-skinned. (Small-pox tends to leave ugly scars on the skin.) A dairyman wondered if cowpox was similar to smallpox. He took some pus from a lesion on the udder of a cow infected with cowpox and scratched the skin of his wife and children. His wife got a high fever but his children fought off the infection easily. Thereafter, as each small-pox epidemic swept through his region, his family remained pox-free. Cowpox was similar enough to small-pox that it provided immunity for both. The dairyman's cure was ignored, but a doctor named Jenner tried the same thing and insisted that he was correct. He called the procedure "vaccination", after the Latin word "vacca," meaning cow. [9]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1717, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Lott, Neal (May 14, 1993). Technical Report 93-01, The Big One! A Review Of The March 12-14, 1993 "Storm Of The Century". National Climatic Data Center Research Customer Service Group.
  2. Mount Kirishima - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 25 January 2016. “Numerous eruptions have been recorded since 742. Very strong eruptions happened in 788, 1716 and 1717.”
  3. Kelud - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 25 January 2016. “Like many Indonesian volcanoes and others on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Kelud is known for large explosive eruptions throughout its history. More than 30 eruptions have occurred since 1000 AD.”
  4. Taal Volcano - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 25 January 2016. “A more violent event happened on September 24, 1716, when the whole southeastern portion of the crater (Calauit), opposite Mount Macolod, was blown out.”
  5. NASA sees dawn and records breaking as major winter storm departs. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (2016). Retrieved on 25 January 2016. “This system dumped copious amounts of snow over West Virginia, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. A few locations came close to, or surpassed all-time 1-day and 2-day snow records. Accumulations of 2 to 3 feet were common, with a few isolated areas in the West Virginia and Maryland panhandles measuring 3.5 feet.”
  6. Montagu, Mary Wortley Lady. Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The. Henry G. Bohn. “The small-pox, so fatal, and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation every autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated. People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the small-pox: they make parties for this purpose, and when they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together), the old woman comes with a nut-shell full of the matter of the best sort of small-pox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch), and puts into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell; and in this manner opens four or five veins.” 
  7. Safe Smallpox Inoculations. Doctor's Review (February 2005). Retrieved on 26 January 2016. “She was witty, wise and also very beautiful, so when the fabulous Lady Montagu was struck with the dreaded smallpox in 1715, it was particularly devastating. She survived to join her husband in Constantinople in 1717, a year after he was appointed English ambassador to the Ottoman Court. During the two years she lived there, Lady Montagu became mesmerized by the Turkish traditions and people, immersing herself in the culture, learning the language and writing about it all at a feverish pace.”
  8. Inoculation - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 January 2016. “The practice was introduced to England by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Lady Montagu's husband, Edward Wortley Montagu, served as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1716 to 1718. She witnessed firsthand the Turkish use of inoculation in Istanbul,[19] and was greatly impressed:[20] she had lost a brother to smallpox and bore facial scars from the disease herself. When a smallpox epidemic threatened England in 1721, she called on her physician to inoculate her daughter.”
  9. Safe Smallpox Inoculations. Doctor's Review (February 2005). Retrieved on 26 January 2016. “However, it was on May 14, 1796, that Jenner famously and publicly used pus from a milkmaid's blister and scratched it into the skin of James Phipps, his gardener's eight-year-old son. The child recovered almost instantly and survived each of Jenner's numerous attempts to infect him with smallpox. And so the first smallpox vaccine was born. (The term vaccination, coined by Jenner, comes from vaca, the Latin word for cow).”

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