September 8 - 1765: Chatham's smallpox epidemic's forgotten hero

37 die, 17 in one family. Dr. Samuel Lord dies fighting the disease
Written on the stone placed there in 1941; "Here lies buried Dr. Samuel Lord who died of smallpox after devoted service to the citizens of Chatham in the epidemic of 1765-66"

1765: Chatham's smallpox epidemic

Of 37 deaths recorded,
17 occurred in one family

If you look closely at the side of Training Field Road in North Chatham, about half way between Route 28 and Old Comers Lane, you may notice an unusual gravestone.

It was placed there in 1941 by the town of Chatham in gratitude for a noble sacrifice two centuries before.

Dr. Samuel Lord, the town's physician, served unstintingly in caring for the sick before falling victim himself and dying on January 12, 1766.


Dr. Lord began medical practice at Chatham in about the year 1735. The sixth of eight children of the Rev. Joseph Lord (1672-1748) and his wife, Abigail, a daughter of Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hinckley, he had been born at Charleston, South Carolina, where his parents were then living, on June 26, 1707. His father, a graduate of Harvard College in 1691, was the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Chatham from its incorporation in 1720 until his death. The pastor also practiced medicine and imparted this knowledge to his sons, Joseph and Samuel.

Dr. Joseph Lord (1704-1788), who graduated from Harvard College in 1726, settled at Athol, Massachusetts, where he was physician, preacher and judge. Samuel came to Chatham from Barnstable with his father's family. He received by bequest, upon his father's death, the former's "English books that relate to Physick and Chirurgery," appraised at a value of £8, s.15. Dr. Samuel Lord, who did not marry, lived on a farm near Burying Hill and the triangle of land between Queen Anne's, Old Comers and Training Field Roads where the colonial militia drilled. His remains were buried on his farm.

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