Howland Smallpox Cemetery, Hanson, MA

My family owns a portion of land along Maquan Pond, which has been owned by the family for many generations. In the 1800s it used to be a combination farmland and unusable bogs. For a time it belonged to the Howland family, and their farm was not far from the pond. An isolated uprising of smallpox hit the town in the mid 1800s, and Lewis Howland and his family were affected.

Lewis Howland was a furnaceman, and he was the son of Warren and Peddy Howland. He was born 31 MAR 1806 in Pembroke, MA (which was soon to become Hanson), the eldest of 7 children. He died of small pox at the age of 40 years, on 14 APR 1846 in Hanson, MA. Since much of rural Massachusetts was still superstitious or uninformed about the nature of disease, his body was prevented from being buried in the public cemetery, and he was interred towards the back of the Howland farm.

Lewis Howland’s stone

Lewis Howland’s brother Warren had died just several months before Lewis himself. Warren Howland Jr. was born 23 JAN 1813, the son of Warren and Peddy Howland in Pembroke, MA. He married Deborah Bates 11 NOV 1840. They had one boy, Warren Howland III who was born 26 DEC 1845. Sadly, however, Warren Jr. died of consumption 22 JAN 1846, several months after the birth of his son. He was buried in Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson, MA. Deborah Bates, now a widow, then had to deal with the death of her son several months later, 21 SEP 1846.

Deborah Bates Howland, now a widow and childless, soon remarried Barnabas Everson on 25 AUG 1848. Barnabas was a smart investor, and good with property, and soon owned the land on which the Howland farm was. It was through the Everson family that the land was then passed down generation after generation to our family ownership of it today.

That’s the history of the area that I have ascertained through family stories, documents, and gravestones.

As for the current state of this small cemetery, time and thievery have not been kind. The cemetery is surrounded by four granite posts with an iron rail around it. Only one stone fully remains, that of Lewis Howland, and the entirety of the stone has been removed from the ground and lies facing upwards. It is made from white marble, and has eroded, but the epitaph is still readable. There is evidence of another gravestone, with the base still remaining with two small iron posts sticking up from the base. Beside it is a footstone which reads, barely, PTH. This is the footstone of Pamela Howland, Lewis’s wife.

A great amount of leaves and overgrowth now cover the area. Several of the stones are missing, a prime target for those wandering near Camp Kiwanee.

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