The Cold Summer (1816)
From: The Story of Hartford, A History
Compiled by: Mrs. Isabella Brayton, Town Historian
in collaboratin with John B. Norton.
Hartford, NY 1929

The Cold Summer

From 1812 onward until 1830 was a period of development and increasing prosperity in this section, unbroken except for the effects of the strange summer of 1816, the "cold summer," a calamity causing much distress in those days. Yet its occurrence now would be many times more a calamity than then. The months of spring came that year but spring did not come with them. The farmers waited in vain for the day a crop might be safely planted. It became June, July and August, and still frost came every month, and cold weather continued. In an almanac that belonged to the late Laban Bump, it is recorded that snow fell on June 6th. Men wore overcoats while hoeing the slowly growing corn. Many came to the conclusion that the sun was beginning to cool, and consequently the earth with all mankind would congeal in a few years. There was widespread apprehension that almost produced panic. The bad weather conditions were widespread, and prices of course rose. Paul Slocum bought pork for $30 a barrel. Laban Bump went three miles to John Hurd's farm to cut wood. His wages were one half a bushel of potatoes, which he carried home daily, after his toil. David Austin had the peculiar custom of holding the produce of his farm until the following year's crop was to be harvested. As a result he became a boon to all settlers. From as far away as Vermont, men followed blazed trees to his house, and helped build the stone walls on the Myers place, for which they received a peck of wheat, which was speedily carried home to their starving families. William Covell employed men to dig the wheel pit for his mill at South Hartford for a peck of corn a day.


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