Sufferers’ Land – Post 2 – Year Without Summer

Sufferers’ Land

Year Without Summer

by Dave Barton

The winter of 1815-1816 was normal, but that changed in late spring. In June, the weather turned cold and it snowed. The year 1816 became “the year without summer.” Through June and July — even into August — cold temperatures and heavy snows were the norm. In most cases, farmers were not able to get a crop into the ground, let alone harvest. People became desperate. No one knew what to do.

Conditions outside of New England were not as bad, but the primitive transportation system of the day could not move food easily from one region to another. Farmers ate whatever they could get out of the ground, not putting aside seed for the following year.

No one knew the reason for this sudden change in climate, although many theories circulated among the population. Some people thought a star had passed between the sun and earth, cutting off the light. Others attributed the change in climate to sunspots. [1]

Today, scientists believe the cold summer of 1816 was the result of the eruption the previous year of Mount Tambora, in what is now Indonesia. This massive eruption, estimated by some scientists to be the largest in ten-thousand years, added to dust already in the atmosphere from two earlier volcanic eruptions, one in the West Indies in 1812 and another in the Philippines in 1814. [2]

No matter what caused this abrupt climate change, the people of New England began to look for a way out of their dire situation. Rumors circulated about the rich lands of Ohio, and people took notice.


[1] The “Year without Summer” by Dr. F.E. Weeks, The Firelands Pioneer, April 1925, pp. 416-419.
[2] Wikipedia: Year Without a Summer



This post was first published on this blog in 2009.


Previous Post: Land of Opportunity

Next Post: Return to the Firelands


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