CCNS Province Lands | Smallpox Cemetery


The most touching place in the Province Lands is the Smallpox Cemetery, not far east of Bound F, reached through lowlands around Duck Pond. (Best advice: bring garden shears for the catbriar and wear jeans you can afford to sacrifice.)

You’ll first pass the cellar hole of the Pest House, which was built around 1848 to contain and isolate smallpox victims, mitigating in part the citizens’ “gloomy forbodings and painful apprehensions,” as Dr. Horatio G. Newton described the state of affairs in 1872, when the worst outbreak occurred.

The 14 headstones are numbered but nameless. At least four survive in good condition. It wasn’t until 1980, and the publication of Provincetown Massachusetts Cemetery Inscriptions, by Lurana Higgins Cooks, Hugh Francis Cook, Anne Gleason MacIntyre and John Stuart MacIntyre, that a tentative identification was made of the victims.

In grave No. 5 would seem to be Kennis Ferguson, a 22-year-old mariner; in No. 9, Tamsin Manuel, who died a month after her 73rd birthday; and in No. 10, Frank Sofrine (alias Small). The story of the man in No. 6 speaks eloquently and sadly to the hardships of the time. Antone Domingo, a mariner born in the Azores, died of smallpox on 1 November 1872. He was already a widower. And he was only 22.









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