I am researching a book about life in a small Massachusetts Town and the current hysteria over the ” Blizzard of 2015″ caused me to want to share this passage from the 1700s near Boylston, Massachusetts.
” During the early 1700s New England winters were extremely severe with front arriving in October and heavy snowfall on the ground until early April. George Wright in his history of Boylston tells of storms that kept settlers in their homes for days before being able to dig out through the huge snowdrifts. Quoting from a letter written by Rev. Dr. Cotton Mather to a friend in England, Wright wrote in his paper Historical Phenomens from the Papers of George L. Wright: “On the twenty-third and twenty-fourth 1717 occurred the greatest snowstorm known in the history of New England. Rev. Dr. Cotton Mather in a letter to a friend in England has preserved a full account of this storm. In this letter Dr. Mather said there had been a heavy body of snow covering the ground through the winter. A terrific snowstorm came on the twentieth of February, which was so violent that all communication was stopped and people for some hours could not cross from one side of a street to the other.“
On the twenty-fourth day of the month came another storm, which buried the memory of the former. This storm came on a Sunday and no religious assemblies were held throughout the country. Indians there nearly 100 years old, affirmed that their fathers had never told them of any stories that equaled it. Vast numbers of a cattle, sheep, and swine perished; some of them were found standing at the bottom of snowdrifts weeks after the storm. One farmer who lost above 1100 sheep found two of them still alive twenty-eight days after the storm at the bottom of a snow bank sixteen feet high having sustained themselves by eating the wool of their dead companions. Hogs were found alive after twenty-seven days burial, hens after seven days, and turkeys after twenty-five days, in positions where they were utterly unable to obtain any food. Great damage was done to the orchards; the snow freezing to a crust as high as the branches broke and split them, and the cattle walking upon the crust greatly damaged them by browsing. Houses were completely covered with snow, not even the tops of chimneys being seen.” (Boylston Historical Society: Historical Phenomena from the Papers of George L. Wright, Transcribed by Amy Gilgis.