A Tale of 15 Cucumbers; or, What ever Happened to Ben Franklin’s Lightening Rod?

The following accounts, appearing on 20 September 1790 in the Glasgow Advertiser, painted a dire picture of North American weather. Then again, considering the the dietary habits of its inhabitants, a quick death by lightening strike may have been a blessing.

New York, August 4.

On Monday the 12th ult. there was a violent tempest at Leominster, Massachusetts, attended with hail which was of such a size, and fell with such velocity, that the stoutest Indian corn was beaten into shreds–vast quantities of apples were beaten from the trees–not only the fruit but the trees received great injury, the bark being broken from their limbs; the windows broken in the houses, and the fences renewed such impressions, as to be discovered at 90 yards distance. Many of the hailstones were as large as hens eggs–the common size was a little more than an inch in diameter. Twenty-give hours after it fell, banks of it were measured at the foot of a hill, and found to be 20 inches deep.

The Saturday following great damage was ??? by hail at Shrewsbury, country of Worcester.

August 15.

On Sunday the 25th July, a violent hail storm commenced a few miles to the westward of Wilmington, Delaware, which did great damage to many fields of grain, and blew down, in many places, an immense quantity of timber. The hail in this storm was of an extraordinary appearance; part of it being about two inches long, and of a very considerable circumference.

On Saturday, the 1st inst. arrived at Wilmington, Delaware, the brig Maria, Capt. fort, from Londonderry, with 200 passengers.

On the 4th inst. arrived at Philadelphia, the Happy Return, Capt. Ewing, in 8 weeks from Londonderry, brought 340 passengers in good health: Capt. Ewing parted, near the Capes of Delaware, with the ship Sally, Capt. Miller, with passengers from Londonderry for that port also.

Pennsylvania, July 21.Last Sunday evening Mr. John Garrison, son of William Garrison, of Newbury township, in this county, was killed by lightning in his own house. The lightning struck in at the gable and just at the instant that Mr. Garrison was in the centre of the floor, walking towards the window; his brother was standing within two yards of him when he fell, but providentially received not the smallest hurt.

We also learn, that Patrick M’Sherry, of Little’s-town, in this county, had two cows killed by lightning, the same evening.

New London, July 30.

A slight shock of an earthquake was felt in this and the neighbouring towns, on Sunday morning last, about thirty minutes past five o’clock.

Middletown, July 25.About five o’clock this morning, a noise was heard that seemed to pass over this city, which is thought to have come from a north-westerly direction and proceeded to a south-easterly one. The noise was equal to loud heavy thunder, and the commotion occasioned by it very sensible in the shaking of houses, but no damage was done.–The Tuesday preceding, about six or seven miles to the southward of this place, a similar but heavier noise was heard, attended with the like commotion.

Extract of a letter from Dartmouth, (Connecticut)
July 26.

“Some days ago a house near the college, was struck by lightning, and a child therein killed. Since that a woman was killed by the same means in Cornish, a town adjoining Dartmouth,as she sat in her house at work. Later still at Hampton, in New York state, a yoke of oxen were killed, both by one flash of lightning.–From what reason we cannot tell, but the lightning has been peculiarly destructive in many of our settlements during the present summer. It would appear, however, that nature is willing to repair those losses; accounts having just come to hand, that on last Monday morning a woman in Plainfield was safely delivered of four girls at a ???; one of whom died the night following, the rest likely to do well.”

Saturday, at a tavern near the market, the following specimen of gormandising was ???ed :–A person, not for any bet, or without any other inducement, than the craving of the stomach,eat, at one meal, a shoulder of roast lamb, 3 slices of bacon, three quarters of a pound of cheese, 15 large cucumbers, one half of an 8d wheat loaf, a plate of cold potatoes, and drank a quarter of cyder.

Leave a Reply