The Hospital on Hospital Hill
The road rises steeply as one drives west out of Williamsport on Clear Spring Road, and is heavily wooded on the north side of the road. There are a lot of graves on that hill, all victims of the 1833 cholera outbreak. All were Irish canal workers and family members. Only two of the graves have makers, Sarah Colvin 13 Dec 1831-24 Aug 1833, and James Kenny 1795- 1 Sep 1833. The hill it will forever be remembered as "Hospital Hill" despite the fact that a hospital caring for the ill stood on the hill for less than a year.
The town minutes do not reveal exactly where the hospital was located. Although the cholera epidemic of 1833 was not as severe as the epidemic of the previous year, it took its toll in lives, and hindered the progress of the canal. During this epidemic, Williamsport officials took steps to care for the sick. On July 10, 1833, the town commissioners passed a resolution which stated that a committee should “be appointed to solicit subscriptions” from “citizens and others, for the completion of a hospital near the town.” At the same time, four town commissioners were appointed to serve as an executive committee to see to the completion of the facility. Commissioners Elie Stake and Peter Steffey were to serve as representatives of the town on the executive committee, while commissioners James Fitzpatrick and James Fielding were to serve as representatives of the canal company. The executive committee was also instructed to see that the facility received the necessary aids and supplies.
Advertisements for contracts and workers to construct the canal, lift locks, aqueduct, and dam at Williamsport began appearing in the local newspapers in 1832.
Unfortunately, 1832 was the first severe cholera outbreak in Washington County.