|Middle Interval Meetinghouse and Cemetery|
The girls were buried in the family plot in the Middle Intervale Cemetery across the road from their home.
One can only imagine what life must have been like in the household during that month. Two older daughters survived. The oldest, Frances Ann was 23 and Mary Elizabeth was 18 and surely helped care for their ailing sisters. There were four sons including my 2nd great-grandfather Augustus Mellen. He was twenty at the time and would soon be going off to fight in the Civil War. Edward Lawson was 16, Timothy Cullen was 15 and John Herbert was 7. John and Helen were twins.
"Throat distemper" is what diphtheria was often called in the death records of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was particularly lethal among children under the age of ten. In addition to local outbreaks, New England suffered a major regional outbreak between 1735-1740. Fortunately, today there are vaccines to prevent diseases like diphtheria that once took many lives each year. In the 1920s, there were about 150,000 cases with about 13,000 fatalities annually (bacteriology.net). The diphtheria vaccine became available in 1926 and has been in widespread use since the 1940s. However, recently the number of children who are not properly vaccinated has increased. Hopefully, there won't be more outbreaks in the future.
|Diphtheria under the microscope - read the description below|