"The Ohio Fever, 1816-17-18"


Article from "The Tufts Family History"


Book by Jay and Ora Tufts. Extracted by P. G. Parsons



The year 1815 was one of the most backward in the history of Maine. One May 19th, a heavy snow storm occurred, and crops could not be planted until the ordinary time for hoeing. The following year was still more unfavorable, and 1816 was called the season without a summer. Frost occurred in every month, and no corn was raised. There was good sleighing until the latter part of April, and the few warm days of May were succeeded by cold so severe that ice froze upon the apple trees and killing all fruit. June 6th, a severe snowstorm occurred and what crops had been planted were set back so fare that corn was not ready to hoe until the 9th of July. The hay crop was light and winter started with a severe snowstorm on October 7th, leaving the inhabitants in a gloomy state.

The spring of 1817 was well-nigh as cold and backward as the tow preceding seasons; farmers in the valley were discouraged and began to look elsewhere for homes -- and all eyes began to turn toward the beautiful and fertile region of the Ohio Wilderness.

The five succeeding years (1817) were known as "The Ohio Fever", and a steady stream of emigrants could be seen removing to the Ohio country. Many of the most enterprising farmers sold their farms and joined the growing procession. We find Jonathan Hopkinson, a much esteemed citizen, standing by the side of his wagon, whip in hand, saying the last words to his weeping friends, his wife's step-mother, Mrs. Francis Tufts, trying to cheer them by saying: "Well, I suppose, Hopkinsons may as well go to heaven by the way of Ohio as any other way"...

The journey was made in covered emigrant wagons, with two to four horses being used, due to the condition of roads (?) and fording of streams. Many descriptions are available recounting these precarious journeys; Josiah Tufts being one of them in 1817, possibly the first Tufts family to acquire the "Ohio Fever".

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