Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

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 Hatboro-Horsham  See map

In 1793 Yellow Fever swirled through the city of Philadelphia, killing an estimated 10% of its population. Like fire, the fever trapped the city’s residents in a cloud of death and despair, not knowing the cause of what plagued them or how to avoid it. The events of the summer and fall of 1793 made country retreats like Graeme Park important havens, as the only way to escape the city was to have somewhere else to go. It was this epidemic that prompted Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson’s nephew-in-law, William Smith, to take up residence at Graeme Park, which he had purchased from Elizabeth in 1791. Not wanting to live as a guest in her ancestral home, Smith’s move resulted in Elizabeth leaving Graeme Park, first for a boarding house in Hatboro, and finally to the home of Seneca Lukens, a local clockmaker, where she spent the last years of her life.

A special Living History Theater program, August 26 at Graeme Park in Horsham, will focus on the yellow fever epidemic and its impact on the residents of Graeme Park and their friends and family, including Elizabeth’s long-time friend Dr. Benjamin Rush who fought tirelessly against the fever using controversial bleeding techniques. Costumed actors will present vignettes related to yellow fever in tours throughout the day between 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m. Admission is $8/adults and $5/kids (6-17). Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

This program is sponsored by the Friends of Graeme Park with the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Call 215-343-0965 for details. Directions are available on our website at www.graemepark.org.


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