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To Doctr Elihu Ashley at Worthington

Doct Ashley Sr you was at my house I understand
Come down after a Stolen Surcoat Lodged at my house
the next Day my Grandaughter made your bed and by
that means broke out with the Small Pox a fortnitt after
and the most of my family have bin much Exposed the Girl
is removed about two miles from here and is now in the
Greatest Extremity Doctor Pynchon is waiting to se whether
She will Die or Live and how many more of my family
will have it or where the End of it will be God only
Knows---- It is a wonderfull strange thing that any human
creature Could manage at the rate is there no End
to be answered but your own or are we to be Destroyed
by your Seaking your own Safty in inoculation & your
not regarding the Lives of your Neighbours at your
Return was your old Coat of Such Conciquence as
that you was under a Necessety to put me to fifty pounds
cost if we Should all Live through the Distemper it must
be Exceding Costly to have three or four hands in this
Dificult season Imployed Night & Day and such a man as
Doctr Pynchon to Come to us Every Day or Stay a Day
when he Comes Doctor Pynchon Says you ought to pay
a part of or all of the Expence: but if you Should pay it
all it would but meanly Compensate the Damage if you
Kill but one family in qualifying your Self to be a Doctr
I Dont know but it would have bin as well for the world
for you to have Gon into Some other Profession . These from
Belcher 26 of June 1775

Your Injured Friend
Nathll Dwight

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Innkeeper Nathaniel Dwight is incensed with Elihu Ashley for two reasons: he believes Ashley has infected his young granddaughter with smallpox and he wants to be compensated for the money he has had to spend for her medical care. Ashley, who was serving as physician in Worthington, Massachusetts, following his training in Deerfield, Massachusetts, has recently been inoculated for smallpox and has stopped at Dwight's hostelry in Belchertown, Massachusetts, where he has inadvertently left his coat. When he attempts to retrieve the coat, the landlord accuses him of infecting the premises and causing the illness of his granddaughter. The tone of the letter indicates the fear of smallpox and its pervasiveness among the population at a time when inoculation was new.


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Letter to Dr. Elihu Ashley

author   Nathaniel Dwight (1770-1831)
date   Jun 26, 1775
location   Belchertown, Massachusetts
height   8.5"
width   6.5"
process/materials   manuscript, paper, ink
item type   Personal Documents/Letter
accession #   #L99.169

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See Also...

Letter to Nathaniel Dwight from Dr. Elihu Ashley

Pages from Journal of Dr. Elihu Ashley

Letter to Nathaniel Dwight from Dr. Elihu Ashley

High Chest of Drawers

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