This disastrous year was called the The experience of one Bucks County resident serves as a microcosm of this global disaster.
In 1879, Charles Kirk (1800-1890) of Warminster composed a series of autobiographical reflections, beginning with his childhood in Abington.
One of the first stories he recounts is that of his family’s struggle during the Year Without A Summer.
In 1816, the Northern Hemisphere experienced a summer so cold that lakes and waterways were frozen in parts of Pennsylvania in July and August and frost was reported as far south as Virginia.
Crops were destroyed by frost at the peak of the growing season, leading to widespread food shortages.
In Ireland, the famine was compounded by an outbreak of epidemic typhus, a lice-borne illness that is more prevalent in colder weather because lice can hide more easily within multiple layers of clothing.
Scientists now believe the world was experiencing a volcanic winter caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, the largest eruption in 1,300 years.
For several years before and after this time owing to the poverty of the farm we were nearly always out of hay before the grass was cut to turn out a pasture, and out of grain before the next crop came to maturity.
These things used to nick me to the very quick, for I was so ashamed to be seen hauling hay in the spring of the year to feed our stock that I disliked to meet anyone for it seemed to manifest to my mind a want of industry and management, but I have lived to see that even this kind of schooling, hard as it was to bear, has had its good effects on my mind.
I now come to the most sorrowful period of my life.
In October his family suffered an outbreak of typhus, which claimed the life of his mother Rebecca and his sister Ruth and afflicted all of the other children besides Charles.
His father was already physically disabled due to prior injuries, so at the age of fifteen Charles was forced to assume a heavy burden for his family.