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Silhouette of Persis Sheldon (1785-1804)
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Persis Sheldon, born February 5, 1785, was the sixth child of eight born to John and Persis Sheldon of Deerfield, Massachusetts. She attended the newly formed Deerfield Academy in 1800 at age fifteen. Her silhouette shows a characteristic hair style and neck adornment for the early 19th century. Persis, her father, a sister, and two brothers died of tuberculosis between 1801 and 1807. Tuberculosis ravaged the American countryside and cities throughout the 19th century. People were terrified of any lung problem, since they did not know what caused TB. They assumed all lung conditions had some connection and that even a simple cold could become deadly. Many assumed the disease was genetic; none suspected it was spread by a germ and was highly contagious.
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