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Smallpox Cemetery on the Nanticoke River

Town of Woodland DE Suffers Smallpox Outbreak 1903

Woodland Ferry Nanticoke Delaware
The Woodland Ferry crosses the Nanticoke River in Woodland Delaware

There was a smallpox outbreak in the little village of Woodland, Delaware in 1903. The outbreak was carried in newspapers all over the country because a large percentage of while most outbreaks in the early 1900s involved one to three people in a village, Woodland had over twenty-five, and that was a fourth of the town’s total population. the population contracted it and the village was quarantined.

On December 9, 1903, the Evening News in San Jose, California ran the story that it had picked up on a newswire, “Dover, Del., Dec 9. – An epidemic of smallpox prevails at Woodland, a town near Seaford, Del. Out of a population of about 100 persons there are twenty-five cases of the disease. The town is quarantined.”

Hal Roth, in his book You Still Can’t Get to Puckum writes that a lifelong resident told him, “My grandfather was living on the other side of the river at the time and traveled by shad barge between his farm and Seaford, paddling upriver on the flood tide and returning on the ebb. He stayed close to the other side of the river hoping he wouldn’t catch it.” The same resident also told Hal that his grandfather wouldn’t help turn the dirt for the graves for all the money in the world because they believed that smallpox never dies. And this belief was one of the reasons so many died in Woodland. Continue reading Smallpox Cemetery on the Nanticoke River