Buried in Snow


We have been buried in snow in Boston–receiving 90+ inches of snow since the end of January. We broke all kinds of snowfall records, as well as extreme cold records. Roofs have collapsed, public transportation has failed in an epic manner, and even with modern conveniences such as snowblowers and heat, people in Boston are snow weary.

I have thought a lot about my ancestors and how they dealt with extreme weather. They didn’t have modern conveniences. Elizabeth Shown Mills has pulled together a list of articles on 3 other cold and snowy winters.

In the winter of 1717, so much snow fell in New England that people referred to it for years as the big snow. Puritans even cancelled church for two weeks in a row. Mail was delivered by young boys on horseshoes.

1816 is referred to as the year without summer. Snow fell in Vermont even during the summer. The winters of 1812-1816 were all very cold in New England and was one of the reasons for migration to Ohio.

On the other side of the country, the Northwest experienced 4-6 feet of snow around Puget Sound in 1916.

Boston.com put together a history of snow removal from Boston streets, from the times of carriages and wagons through trains and subways. Like today, people had to get to work, and many would have to walk miles to work in dangerous conditions on those rare occasions when the subway shut down.

How did your ancestors deal with extreme temperatures and precipitation? How did they keep warm, and how did they clear away the snow? Did weather, such as the type experienced in the year without a summer, play a role in the decision to move to more temperate climes?