On Saturday, March 30 at 2 PM, the Sharon Historical Society & Museum will host a free public guided tour of the oldest part of Hillside Cemetery. The tour will include visits to the graves of small pox victims as well as those of other people who have figured largely in the history of medicine in Sharon. Tour guides will be Marge Smith and Susan Shepard, Co-Curators of the Historical Society’s current exhibit entitled “Sharon Cures: Centuries of Medicine in One Small Town.”
Visitors should gather at the Civil War Monument at the top of the Green by 2 PM. Parking is available along Main Street, behind the Town Hall and at the shopping center on Gay Street, for those who can walk from that distance. PLEASE RSVP SO THAT WE KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE TO PREPARE FOR, and so that we can let you know if there will be a rain date. 860-364-5688 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors will receive a handout with a map of the original cemetery, and two lists of the graves involved in the tour, with bios of the people and photos of their houses if known. The story of the battle against small pox is heartbreaking, and resonates today as we struggle with the debate over vaccinations. Most of the graves on the tour are of the actual victims, including young children, and reveal the tragedy of the epidemics that repeatedly took a toll on Sharon and early America. We will also visit the grave of the Rev. Cotton Mather Smith, Sharon’s beloved early minister who tended to a many of small pox victims himself. Other early doctors and midwives who had an impact on the practice of medicine here are on the tour. We will also visit the graves of Dr. William Bradley Coley, considered today to be the Father of Immunotherapy, and Dr. Jerome Chaffee, the founder of Sharon Hospital.
Smith and Shepard, award-winning curators and area historians, developed the exhibit from the Sharon Historical Society collections, extensive research in original town documents and with advice from Connecticut medical specialists.