Joseph Warren, the foremost physician of the Adams’ Family, and Samuel Adams himself are fixated on Samuel, the son, who awaited the his fate quite favorably while seated patiently in his seat. The son had his sleeve rolled up so that his bare arm was plainly seen. “I am so sorry I am unable to help your wife, Sam,” Doctor Warren remarked softly. He said a silent prayer the smallpox would not affect further the people he cared deeply about, nor his friends either.
“It is time,” Doctor Warren announced. He moved first to a small, round table. On top lied a wooden box that held his lancet. It addition he had brought a pile of dressings in an assortment of sizes and shapes and bandages. Nodding, satisfied he had the precise tools for the procedure, Doctor Warren approached the son carefully. “I am frightened, Father,” the youngest Samuel said. Due to his credit he remained in his seat.
Samuel, who was squatting close to his son, he shifted his weight and put his full attention to the meek voice that caught his attention. He reached out with both palms, gripped the tiny hand of his son, and held it firmly.
“Look away if ye pleases ye but we must all undergo the inoculation. The smallpox has taken sharply, the people.”
“I do not like it, Father!” young Samuel shouted.
“Shh!” his father growled.
Without further delay, Doctor Warren walked to the right side of the son of Samuel Adams. With his left palm, he put it firmly to the chin of the trembling boy. “Shh…,” he cooed sweetly. “Close your eyes. It will hurt, yes, but think how much more if the pox takes hold of your body.” There was a pause. “I am going to lance your arm now,” he said after a few seconds.
The boy tensed and shut his eyes tightly but kept his arm in place. Finding a plump vein, Doctor Warren who displayed a most solemn expression, pricked the flesh and then pushed down hard with a thumb before blood had a chance to spill over, thus protecting the wound.
The son whimpered at first but despite chewing his lower lip, tears emerged regardless. Head hunched over, young Samuel clenched the edge of the chair with his left. His father hesitated not, and stroked the palm of his son tenderly.
“You are behaving wonderfully. Your father shall be proud,” Doctor Warren said in a calm but southing tone.
“He already is,” the Elder Samuel said who was still watching his son intently.
Doctor Warren reached into a pocket of his waistcoat and produced the live virus dabbed at the end of a cotton swab which carried the deadly pox he collected earlier, fresh from a victim. The swab was pressed against the wound. With his left, free hand, Doctor Warren slipped it into the pocket of his coat and shortly produced a needle and thread.
“This will hurt too,” Doctor Warren remarked honestly.
The house temporarily went up in arms as Samuel’s son screamed. Doctor Warren thought the poor boy might burst a lung with the hysterics. Young Samuel’s arm had to finally be restrained by his father but that did not stop the kicking of a boy’s feet.
“Finished,” Doctor Warren said in about thirty minutes. “Samuel, I am afraid child, your turn little sister will be next. “Should I inoculate the baby, Mister Adams?”
“Hannah is two. She is not a baby,” the Elder Adams huffed.
“Your daughter is with Betsey?”
“I believe so.”
Doctor Warren grimaced. He did not like the idea of the girl being in the same area with a sick patient. He knew his friend had a fiery temper. However, he was a physician, trained in the art of medicine. “Hannah will have to be inoculated too.” He waited for Sam’s reaction. Like clockwork, Samuel shot Doctor Warren a dreadful expression of concern.
“She is too young, Joseph.”
He shook his head in response. Inside Elizabeth Checkley Adams and Samuel Adams’s bedroom, Doctor Warren preformed the exact procedure on his daughter as well as his wife. Whimpering and mumbling escaped Elizabeth’s lips. Hannah made no sounds at all. Instead, with her curious nature, she fiddled with the dressing.
Doctor Warren exited. He noticed Samuel’s father had already rolled up his own linen shirt and presented his right arm for the lancet to do its bidding.
Samuel’s son giggled. “Shut it,” his father growled. “Ye are behaving unacceptably like an impudent child in front of the Good Doctor.”
“I apologize, Mister Warren.”
“You are excused, lad. Samuel, I am going to lance your arm now.”
Samuel’s son glanced up from his arm and stared curiously in his father’s direction. His son delivered to him a pleasant smile as if lancing had suddenly become a most favorable event in the Adams household.
“Do not worry, Father. It stings for a second,” young Samuel said innocently, solemn-faced.
Samuel snorted at his son’s comment. “Get on with it, please.”
As surely as God as his witness, he thought a great amount of pain had attacked the whole right arm. The hooting and occasional laughter of his son only further embarrassed Samuel but there was little denying the discomfort.
“Let me hold your hand, Father! I can protect you,” young Samuel offered.
“Leave… me,” he gurgled.
“But Father,” Samuel objected.
“Go and tend to ye mother. See – Ow! If she has improved – Be gentle, Joseph!”
“Stop wiggling and the sewing and dressing of your arm will be easier,” Doctor Warren retorted. He did not look up but remained focused intently on his work.
Young Samuel put a hand over her mouth and giggled.
“Go!” he barked to his son.
He ran away but before Samuel’s child disappeared from his sight, “See if she has much improved!” he hollered.
Wednesday, July 25th, 1757. This day my dear Wife was delivered of a dead son.... God was pleased to support her under great weakness, and continue her life till Lord’s day the 25th of the same month, when she expired at eight o’clock A.M. To her husband she was as sincere a Friend as she was a faithful Wife.... She ran her Christian race with remarkable steadiness and finished in triumph. She left two small children. God grant they may inherit her graces!
Samuel observed the written message he scribbled in the Family Bible. He considered allowing remorse overtake him. He stood up instead. Leaving the bible open to allow the ink to dry, Samuel Adams knew the state of his home was in disarray. He needed a tailor to draft new patterns because his children were growing. Their own clothing though, faded, the cloth showed a few tears along the seams here, and a few stains there, like their father’s own wardrobe. They sorely needed larger coats, shirts and a cobbler would have to construct new shoes.
“My dear, Betsey,” was all he could say.
Samuel and Hannah were put to bed and tucked in by their father. He first tenderly kissed the brows of his daughter, and then he walked to the other side of the bed where his son slept also. Samuel kissed his forehead. He noticed his son kicked off all the covers. Young Samuel’s father pulled a lightweight sheet up to his son’s waist. Once satisfied his children were happy, he went to his own quarters.
He looked at the empty spot where his wife used to lie next to him in their bed. Samuel flipped off his shoes and crawled in. He decided to keep his clothes on. Samuel positioned himself so he could lean on his side. He sniffed the sheets where his wife used to sleep with him. Samuel’s wife’s smell was still present. He flopped over onto his back and stared at the ceiling. Samuel let out a long sigh. It had been a particularly grievous time for him. His infant son, Samuel, lived only eighteen days after birth. In ‘51, Betsey again gave birth to another we named Samuel, he remembered, but Joseph died the following day, two years later. ‘54, our firstborn daughter, Mary, lived three months and nine days. Hannah came and stayed healthy. With your body too weak, ye collapsed under the most horrid circumstances. Ye birthed a stillborn son today.
Betsey, we knew each other at quite young ages. We were close, ye and I, bonded friends. We courted a few years dear one in adulthood. What a joyous day. I was filled with endearment, profound jubilation; we wedded October 17, 1749. I regret I was unable to be a husband worthy; I neglected my family. I remain your most loving and obedient, oh, Elizabeth! Realizing his wife was deceased, never to be seen, Samuel turned on his stomach and cried loudly into his pillow. He did nothing to mop up his grief soaking his pillowcase.
“Betsey,” he howled. His cries carried on until he was so tired, he cried himself to sleep.
By the next day at precisely eight o’clock A.M., Samuel stared at the ceiling some more. He hadn’t got so much as two or three hours of rest. Hannah and Samuel were still asleep, and for that miracle, their father was grateful. In private, Samuel’s eyes were pink and puffy. He wept the majority of the night.
(Part II can be found here: