Thursday, July 14, 2016

Smallpox in Williamston

     “The report of a case of smallpox has been confirmed. William Hoell, son of Alsala (?) Hoell, is said to have gone to New York and returned by sea. It is supposed he contracted the disease while in New York. The village has been thrown into great excitement. Several families have left and more will leave, perhaps in a day or two. Business is at a standstill. The school in the academy has come to a close two months sooner than planned, and the teacher, Mr. Matthews, his wife and son expect to leave this week for their home in Maine. The sick man, Hoell, has been carried about one and one-half miles from town to a school house near Samuel L. Whitley’s where he is to be attended to by a nurse, and no one else but the physicians is to visit him.”

[From the diary of Elder C. B. Hassell published in Martin County History, Vol. I
by Francis M. Manning and W. H. Booker, 1977]

Cushing Biggs Hassell was born in Martin County in 1809. His father died when he was 15. Prior to that time, he had attended school intermittently, but after his father’s death, he became the breadwinner for the rest of his family. He worked in Williamston, Halifax (Halifax Co.), and Plymouth (Washington Co.) and joined the Skewarkey Primitive Baptist Church near Williamston in 1828.

He went into partnership in a store with Henry Williams in Williamston in 1831 and later formed a partnership with Henry’s brother, William. He also became a deacon of the church in 1833. He was ordained in 1842, serving as pastor for Skewarkey and Spring Creek churches. In 1859, he became moderator of the Kehukee Association, the oldest Primitive Baptist association in America, and he served in that capacity until his death in 1880.

Mr. Hassell kept a series of diaries from 1840 until his death in 1880. These diaries are in the UNC library.

Skewarkey Primitive Baptist Church
By Ser Amantio di Nicolao (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

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