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Episode 186: Invisible Boundaries

2021-11-22 | 🔗

One of the most frightening aspects of our lives is something that’s hidden from our eyes. And yet its impact is so powerful and destructive that we’ve spent centuries running in fear from it. Well, except for one brave community, that is.


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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
There's nothing more frightening, then getting sick, it's an all too common occurrence for most of us, but that doesn't mean it's any less irritating. When were sick life sort of grinds to a halt. We stay home from work or school, and if you're like me, you probably don't even like leaving your bed depending on the symptoms and how long the illness can last getting sick for a lot of people can even be frightening, and I honestly don't have to tell you that. Do I, if the events of the last couple of years have taught us anything, is just how vulnerable we all are to various illness, while scientists seem to be regularly putting old maladies into the history books as they have with polio, whooping cough and smallpox, for example,
it seems like new and more deadly threats are always. waiting in the shadows to take their place and as a culture we ve learned to be afraid, haven't we just get all the disease related movies that have come out of Hollywood over the last few decades from mainstream heads like twelve monkeys, and I am legend to horror, classics like zombie, land and resident evil. The risk has captured our imaginations and left us crossing our fingers that our life never imitates. That specific art. History, though, shows us that our hope
might be misplaced during the thousands of years that they spent building civilizations all around this planet. Our ancestors had to wrestle with a nearly constant onslaught of disease and oftentimes. It was absolutely devastating. One outbreak, though, stands out above most in terms of the impact it has on society and within. It is a story. That's both deeply inspiring and utterly terrifying, but whether or not you are ready to hear it is one thing we can all agree on. Fear just like sickness can often be contagious. I'm Erin Thirdly- and this is lore Allow me to set this
age. There have been a number of periods in english history, usually named after a specific monarch or dynastic family edwardian Victorian, you ve heard those names before another was the stew stretching from the reign of James, the first of England, which began in one thousand six hundred and three all the way to the death of Queen Anne in one thousand, seven hundred and fourteen it covered tumultuous century of english history. The Stuart period had such classic hits as witchcraft trials. The first english civil war, but seconds. where civil war and the restoration of the monarchy, o n a few people, lost their heads along the way, but diving down into the finer details. Life in this Stuart period was anything but glamorous. A lot of that had to do with a population boon that happened right before the Stuarts took control, crowding and fewer jobs than workers meant that earning a living wage was oftentimes impossible. Those who could find
work only earn enough to cover their rent and groceries, and even that was a stretch for most books were turning to their communities for help. and almost no one was able to save up enough money to actually buy a home. Desperate people often turned to begging. The English civil war, didn't help much either as Hungary soldiers crawled across the country like ants, they plundered food from people lucky enough to have saved a bit and because the war was more important to the government than basic needs. Those people often starved There was one bit of irony, though: the wealthiest in England enjoyed a diet of food made from meets in sugar, while the poor, In the land had to settle for beans and other vegetables as a result, the lower class was often much more healthy than the elites
It may not shock you to learn, though, that the average person's life expectancy then was a lot shorter than it is today. Infant mortality rates were high and even childbirth itself proved to be a serious risk to expect mothers and everyone- and I mean everyone- had parasites like lice and fleas people that with life as best they could, though they still married, usually for love, but sometimes from money if they could find it. Never all sorts of distractions to take their mind off suffering like bear. Baiting cock fight, spend public executions. Honestly, it sounds like a Disney theme park, but with more blood sports and public health issues. And that was life in Stuart England. If you are lucky enough to have a job, you were probably a farmer or laborer, but there was a chance. You might land gig as Smithy a shoemaker, a porter or a Glover or like George Vicars, as the assistance to a tailor
George lived in the small village of aim located to the north and darbyshire. He worked under the tutelage of Tailor Alexander Hadfield doing every you might imagine, a taylor- would have done in one thousand six hundred and sixty five and on this particular day in late August, that included managing a delivery of cloth that had just arrived from London. George unrolled the bundle and then hung it up in front of the large fireplace so that he could inspect. And let it air out from its journey. It was the same thing he had done with every new bundle of cloth, all parts of his monotonous role as assistance, but just a week later, George Vicars would be dead, there are three different types of plague. Each of them are caused by the bacterium known as your sending a pesticide, but they manifest in different ways. We ve all heard
the bubonic plague. Of course, that form is distinguished by the large pus filled. Swellings known as Bobo's set to see MC plague is what happens when the infected lymph nodes drain into a person's bloodstream infecting the whole city and new plague is what happens when the infection settles down in the lungs coughing and sneezing send contagious droplets into the There were others, might inhaled them and become infected themselves. It's all the plague, but each form unique symptoms and ways of spreading and four George vicars. That vector was most likely fleas embedded in the new cloth. He took delivery of from London and and by the way that was already under assault by a massive outbreak of the plague. the reaction in London had been utter panic. The wealthiest people in the city just packed up and law believing they were safer out in the countryside. Even the elected shells left their post. Essentially,
taking offer vacation, while the majority of their citizens were fearing for their own lives. By the time the people of AIM heard what had happened to poor George vicars, it was too late. it was a small village of just eight hundred people and every single one of them was at risk before they even knew it. After vicars D, he was followed by a young boy named Edward Cooper, then Peter Hawks worth passed away, followed by Thomas Thorpe and his twelve year old daughter. In fact, before the outbreak was over the entire Thorpe family, begun by December of that year. Forty two other villagers had died in those debts continued into the winter, although they were thankfully slowed by the cold weather by spring
do the people of even knew that they had to start making difficult decisions because they knew that the plague spread from person to person, although they weren't exactly sure how. And that meant that there might be a way to stop it. Now, if you hopped into a time machine and headed back to one thousand six hundred and sixty six, the most educated person you'd be able to find in just about any village in the countryside. If they had one at all, was the minister. The team was lucky because they actually had two of them won Stanley had served the people of him for many years, but had been exiled three years earlier, because he had refused to use the new edition of the anglican book of common prayer. So he lived on the edge of town in a small hut, while the new minister, twenty
You're old, William mom person served in the church, along with his wife, Catherine and two young boys, but desperate times call for strange alliances, and the two ministers met together to discuss their options. They knew the plan they'd come up with, was going to sound like an overreaction to most people and a violation of their personal freedom, but it was also their best chance at stopping the plague in em before it spread on two other communities farther north. So on June, twenty fourth of six, sixty six, the minister's gathered everyone together to offer their proposal complete and total quarantine. No one who lived in the village would be allowed to leave and no visitors would be given entry until the plague had been stopped in its tracks, to do this, they had settled on a reasonable boundary line and invisible barrier that ignored their new tiny kingdom. The Earl of Devon sure who live near by even agreed to send food and supplies to help them get through the experiments
they also did something that was looking back. Pretty ingenious, various places along the boundary they placed water troughs that were filled with vinegar, which was a much better sterilizing agent and soap merchants would leave goods by the troops and the villagers would toss their coins into the vinegar preventing the spread of the sickness. It was an extreme sacrifice, there's no doubt about that, but after discussion, everyone who lived in aim agreed they would stay inside the boundaries of the village and follow all the rules set by Stanley and mom person. All they had left to do now was wait. What happened this summer was the social equivalent of a song
jerk, knocking a bystander out of the way and taking the bullets meant for them. The people of Eames suffered the effects were everything you might expect from a plague ridden village in Stuart England is one of the steps that people agree to take was the immediate burial of the dead folks at a time didn't have definitive proof, but they suspected correctly. It turns out that the plague could be passed on by touching the dead and anything else they owned or war. So as people died, their families dragged them out into the yard and buried them right on their property rather than across town to some sort of com. already grave some weren't so smart about it, though one man Marshall, how got sick early on and somehow survived believing is immune. He started looking for people who had died without any one else to bury them and took care of the task himself, but before you think premise. A hero, though I should mention that he was helping himself to their belongings, which he brought home to his family, and why?
small, dragging a man called Unwin out into the yard, for a quick burial marshal was frightened. If his mind, when the man opened his eyes and asked for a drink Partial ran home, believing the dead were rising from the grave. Sadly, his wife and and would soon die from the plague as well a story and think it's likely. They picked up their infections from the stolen goods. He was bringing home the local church continued to meet, but they moved their services outside. Thanks to the warm weather and open air, they felt it was better than expecting people to cram into small pieces endorse, but not everyone in the church was safe. Reverend mom person lost his wife after she became sick and then appeared to recover. She was one of many who tragically died that month. In fact, through August, roughly five people each day were passing and it was decimating families like a wild fire, a woman, Jane Hawks worth, for example, lost twenty five members of her immediate and extended family.
Their local woman, Elizabeth Hancock, washed, helplessly as her husband and six of her own children passed away that summer. With each death she was forced to drag their bodies out to a hill on their property and bury them all by herself. There are stories of people from the next town over stony, Middleton being able to see her dig those bitter graves from a distance but unable to approach and help or even offer comfort. I can't imagine what that experience must have been like for her it's hard to call anyone who goes through something like that. A lucky survivor when the dust settled two hundred sixty of the eight hundred residents of em were lost to the plague that summer the final victim was a young man in his late twenties named Abraham Morton passed away on November. First, he was one of eighteen members of his family to succumb to the sickness.
Christmas. After two months of no other debts, they officially declared the plague over, but they did one last thing to make sure The villagers gathered all of their belongings, their books, there, furniture and every article of clothing that wasn't currently on their body in the carded it out into the centre of town, and then they set on fire. The experiments almost broke them now witnessing that much death, the daily burial of loved ones. The constant worry that your neighbor was. next or even worse. You, yes, Reverend mom peasant survive his wife, a casualty of a plan. He helped mastermind but its clear from a lead He sent to a friend that summer that he didn't have a lot of hope for himself and his words could have been echoed by just about every other survivor in town
I am a dying man, he wrote I'm going to die in pain and there is nothing anyone can do about it, but it turns out. Perhaps there was I want to say up front here that I did not go fishing for parallels between the events in aim and the pandemic of the last couple of years. All I could do is report the things to you, as I saw them in the historical record, but that said it's incredible just how often the present mirrors the past. Isn't it, I think that's were a lot of the fear of deadly outbreaks, comes from
can look back and see how devastating a sickness can truly be, and that's frightening. But my hope is that stories about people like the villagers of aim, might offer us something more powerful than fear hope. After it was all over. The folks in the community began to rebuild. There was a lot of work to do and fewer hands to do it, but they pitched in and Claude their way back from a dark period in their lives, and they did together, the Reverend William mom person might have survived, but he would never be the same stay down there, a Neiman till one thousand six hundred and sixty nine, but eventually had to leave. There was just too much pain each day in the scenery around the village in the eyes of the people in his church and in his,
home. He moved on to another town who hired him to be their new minister, but the transition wasn't that easy. Knowing he had come from em, they forced him to quarantine in a hut in the woods until they were certain. He wasn't sick and contagious. Now. One thing you might be thinking at this point is that fewer people might have died if they had it locked down the village that shutting their borders serve to concentrate the damage making matters worse, but in
truth. The death rate in was only thirty two percent, a far cry from the seventy five to ninety percent that a lot of other communities experienced. It seems that their precautions not only stopped the plague from spreading northward, but also made it easier on themselves. But that's not all. In recent years, curious researchers have begun to wonder if there was another reason for so many of the villagers survival. If you find it, they look deeper inside their descendants genetic code and what they found was groundbreaking among current residents there who are direct descendants of those who survive in one thousand six hundred and sixty six. They found that fourteen percent of them had a genetic mutation that scientists refer to as Delta thirty two, it's a mutation that first appeared about seven hundred years ago right when the fur,
waves of the plague spread across Europe, and it seems that it came about as a way to fight off the illness and scientists now think they understand what happened among the villagers, with only one copy of the mutation meaning inherited from one parent There was a chance they would survive, but no guarantee among those with two copies one from each parent. Those odds increased exponentially. In other words, the survivors of em were born for the mission they assign themselves. All that said, it's important to remember that the people of each had no idea their genetic code with special. They probably wouldn't have understood it anyway, even if someone stole it out for them, no all they knew
Was that victory over the plague depended on one simple thing: their courage, but there's no better way to something's up then by quoting William. Would a historian writing in the eighteen hundreds about just how important the events truly were? Let all who tread the green fields of em. He wrote remember with feelings of awe and veneration that beneath their feet, repose, the ashes of those mortal heroes who, with a sublime, heroic and unparalleled resolution, gave up their lives gay doomed themselves to pestilential deaf to save the surrounding country. Their self sacrifice is unequalled in the annals of the world.
There is so much we can learn from stories from the past and forgotten tales like that of the people of em, go a long way to helping us find hope in dark times. I hope you enjoy the dive into their experience, no matter how painful it might have been, but we're not quite finished yet with Little village, it seems that there are a few more unexpected details to share and if you stick around through this brief sponsor break I'll, tell you all about them. This episode of law was made possible by square space. I don't know how many of you know this, but this podcast actually started out as a side hustle back in two thousand fifteen. I was working day job in writing. Weird little stories in my evenings.
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day their descendants are helping scientist better understand how the plague works and how the human body can fight back there's more left behind than medical clues visitors to the village. I can still see a small graveyard on the eastern edge known as Riley graves. It's the location where Elizabeth Hancock Doug seven graves, I hand and buried the remains of her husband and six children and in many ways, is a concrete reminder of her loss and bravery. The water traffic with vinegar is no longer sitting on the village perimeter. But it's been replaced with a large rock known as the boundary stone and there are still buildings there that predate the plague, including George Vicars house. and the tomb of Catherine MOM person is still there as well year on the last Sunday in August, the people their gather outside for a church service in the open air. They call it plague Sunday,
and its held in memory of those outdoor gatherings. Back in the summer of sixteen sixty six one of the big did reactions in the village. Is the plague cottage, partly because its reported to be one of the most haunted buildings in darbyshire? one common report is that visitors have seen an older woman wearing a blue smock who has a habit of approaching guests in bed at night and awaiting them up, while each hall was built in the decade after the wegg it has stories of its own among them, are frequent sightings of a young girl named Sarah Mills who was reported to have drowned in the town. Well, there are also stories ghostly man who has appeared so many times in an upstairs room that the door is now locked permanently two guests, but if there is one place where most people have reported something unusual, it's the local pub the miners arms which has been standing there since the sixteen thirties guests who have stayed there have
Where did a whole laundry list of odd experiences, including mysterious footsteps in empty hallways called spots in an otherwise warm room in objects that seem to move on their own. Others have noticed strange, smells the laughter of invisible children, Doors that open and shut on their own, whether or not the building is truly haunted, is something that I'll leave for you to decide. But one thing is certainly clear: it's difficult to pay the pub visit and not feel the weight of history in every room. In the end, the village of aim will always be haunted by the tragedy of its past, but keeping those ghosts. Company is the knowledge that so many people did something
so selfless giving their lives for the greater good and in the process they gave us an example to imitate, and if that's, not a ghost worth keeping around, I dont know what is. This episode of law was written and produced by me, Aaron Monkey with research by alley, steed and music by Chad. Lawson lore is much more than justified cast. There's a book series available in bookstores, an on line and two seasons of the television show on Amazon, prime video check and both out. If you want more lore in your life, I also make an executive produce a whole bunch of other podcast, all of which I think you'd enjoy my production, company grim and mild specializes in shows that sit,
intersection of a dark and the historical you can learn more about all of those shows and everything else going on over in one central place, grim and mild dotcom, and you can also followed this show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, just search for more podcast, all one word and then click that follow button and when you do say hi, I like it when people say hi and as always, thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2022-02-22.