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The original item was published from 3/23/2020 9:34:43 AM to 4/1/2020 12:00:00 AM.

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News & Town Board Reports (gblist)

Posted on: March 24, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Slice of History: Our assistant Town Historians share information about plagues that have impacted o

Smallpox (1775); Cholera (1883); Spanish Flu (1918-19). New Rochelle was the epicenter of two of the epidemics in the 1700s and 1800s.

Town Historian

Ashes, Ashes

“Ashes, Ashes!!We all Fall Down”

By: Riley Wentzler & Felicia Barber

“Ring Around the rosy, pocket full of posy ashes, ashes, we all fall down!!”

This seemingly innocent nursery-rhyme actually refers to burning the bodies of plague victims during the infamous Black Plague in 1347 -1351. Various plagues, or epidemics as they are called today, have swept through Westchester County, New York State, and the nation as a whole since its founding. From 1775-1782 there was a Smallpox Epidemic. In 1833 there was a Cholera Epidemic, and in 1918-19, there was the Spanish Influenza Epidemic. During these troubled times as coronavirus fears are spreading faster than the actual virus, we the Assistant Town Historians, thought it would be useful to look back on these other epidemics the people of Westchester have endured. When the smallpox epidemic first hit Westchester New Rochelle was the epicenter (Westchester Spy September 1778) . The same was true for the Cholera Epidemic of 1833 (Westchester Spy July 5th 1833). While it is true that worldwide: 500,000 people died from smallpox(, 21,0000 died from Cholera(, and 20,000000 people died from Spanish Influenza(, medicine has greatly improved since 1918. For example there was no test to detect Spanish Flu ( ), but there is now a test to detect Coronavirus.

Previous Slices of History include:


1. Greenburgh’s BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF AND TRUTH: A History of The Freemasons in Greenburgh (9/12/18)


2. Greenburgh and The Arts (9/22/18)


3. A Final Resting Place for “Man’s Best Friend”: The Peaceable Kingdom (9/29/18)


4. Greenburgh’s Hall of Heroes: Ferncliff Cemetery Where Memories Live Forever (10/12/18)


5. Greenburgh at The Great American Crossroads: Greenburgh’s Civil War Story(10/19/18)


6. A Different Kind of Rebel: Greenburgh’s Contributions to the Underground Railroad (10/27/18)


7. "The Disappearing Railroad Blues" in Greenburgh: The Fate of the Putnam Railroad Line and the old Putnam Trail (11/6/18)


8. A Thousand Words Which You Never Knew: The Forgotten Story of the Seal of Greenburgh (11/17/18)


9. How a Flat Tire led to a Happy Escape: The Story of Carvel in Greenburgh (12/11/18)


10. The Guardians of History: Greenburgh’s Historical Societies (1/6/19)


11. A Small House, an Important Meeting, a Huge Victory: The Story of the Odell House (1/12/2019)


12. The Intersection of Banking, Ballet, and School: Greenburgh’s Warburg Estate (Updated) (10/22/19) 

13. Lost History: The Tragedy of Malkasten (1/26/19)


14. A Beautiful View for the Perfect Event: The Belvedere Estate (2/9/19)


15. The Power of Wealth and Humility: A Reflection on Two Highly Influential African Americans (2/18/19)


16. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part I (2/23/19)


17. Oh, The Places Your Mail has Gone: A History of The Hartsdale Post Office (3/9/2019)


18. From Insurance to Symphonies: The Home of Charles Ives (3/16/19)


19. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and Movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part II (3/29/19)


20. From Chasing Rabbits to Setting Records: The Amazing Story of Larry James (4/7/2019)


21. From Fixing Cars to building Infrastructure: How Massaro Park Got its name (4/13/2019)


22. There is no church here, but “the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated” this ground: The Story of The Little White Church Cemetery (4/27/19)


23. Irvington in Chains and our Process A History of Slavery in Irvington and A look at how Slices of History are made (and our interview with historian Robert Marchant) (5/11/2019)


24. From Farmland to Shopping District: The Rise of Central Avenue (5/25/2019)


25. Like a long lost friend”: The story of how summer recreation has evolved in Greenburgh (6/7/2019)


26. Abandon Ship!!! The Story of United Nuclear Corporation and their Short-lived Elmsford Facility (6/28/19)


27. Beyond Heritage Versus Hate Toward Hope and Reconciliation: The story of Mount Hope Cemetery and its Confederate Monument (7/13/19)


28. Hidden History: The Story of Fairview Fairgrounds Part I (7/27/19)


29. Entertainers for Justice (8/3/2019)


30. A Tale of Two Towns: Greenburgh, NY, and Muncy, PA (8/23/ 2019)

31.  When Greenburgh Went “East Bound and Down”: Greenburgh During Prohibition (10/6/2019) 


32. From Mopping The Floor of One Institution to Managing Three at Once: The Amazing Story of Former Westchester County Commissioner of Public Welfare Ruth Taylor (12/12/19) 

33. Greenburgh Gets its “Sun Daze on” Under the Watchful Eyes of the Boys in Blue (1/9/2020) 


34. Making Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream Come Alive the Success Story of the Parkway Homes/ Parkway Gardens Community: (1/18/2020)

35. Formed By Adversity, Held Together by Faith: The History of the Parkway Homes/Parkway Gardens Community (2/27/2020) 

36. From an Apple Orchard to The Olympics: The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club (3/8/2020) 



About the Authors:

We are both Assistant Town Historians at Greenburgh Town Hall and we are engaged to be married and are currently looking for permanent employment.

Riley Wentzler:

I was born and raised in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania. In high school, I took every honors course available including four years of Spanish. I received A’s in all of them. I graduated third in my class of 146 students. This brought me to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Once there, I continued my trend of academic excellence. I graduated summa cum laude in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and a Master’s in Communication Studies, with a G.P.A of 3.94. It was also there that I met my lovely fiancée, Felicia Barber. My Master’s in Communication has promoted public speaking, teamwork, and customer service. My Political Science degree has developed my research skills using computer-based tools and provided me with experience using the Microsoft Office products. My minor in Spanish has facilitated my bilingual capabilities. During my internship at Greenburgh, I created the petition for the State Roads project using website tools. My diverse education and areas of interest have provided me with a wide range of skills. I look forward to finding a career opportunity in business or government. To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comor to help me find employment, you can contact me at 


Felicia Barber:

I was born in New York City and raised in Hartsdale, New York. I graduated from Ardsley High School. I recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. It was here that I met my fiancé, Riley Wentzler. As a result of my academic excellence, I won a scholarship every year. I learned and applied many graphic design skills to projects during my summer internships and at school. I am proficient in using Adobe graphic design applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For my Identity/branding course at Edinboro, I created logos to appear on the tee-shirts of Physical Education majors. For a veteran’s upcoming event, I used a typeface to focus the reader to the soldier in the poster. For the State Roads Legislative Campaign project, I created the embedded graphic-photo that accompanied the petition I am looking for a job to utilize my skills as a Graphic Designer in an agency, print shop, company or government To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comTo learn more about my artwork or to help me find employment you can contact me at



Two Interviews with the authors:



Center for Disease Control and Prevention . (2016, August 30). History Smallpox. Retrieved from Smallpox: Editors. (2018, August 21). Cholera . Retrieved from History :

Kolata, G. (2020, March 9). Coronavirus Is Very Different From the Spanish Flu of 1918. Here’s How. Retrieved from New York Times:

Komaroff, A. ,. (2006, Ocotober 25). Analysis and Reconstruction of the 1918 Pandemic Flu Virus. Retrieved from NEJM Journal Watch :

Unknown. (1778, Septempter (Not Given)). The Pox . Westchester Spy , p. (Not Given).

Unknown. (1833, July 5). The Cholera . Westchester Spy, p. Unknown .

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