Doctor Estes Howe’s Revolutionary War Notebooks

Disease killed more than twice the number of American troops that died in combat during the Revolution. Historian Joseph Ellis suggests that Washington's decision to have his troops inoculated against smallpox was one of his most important decisions. Dr. Estes Howe, one of Belchertown’s first physicians, was a surgeon in Rufus Putnam’s regiment during the first years of the conflict and these notebooks provide an interesting look into 18th century field medicine. Book I records the treatments he dispensed, with the names of the soldiers who were sick or wounded. It includes a list of the troops he inoculated against smallpox. Both notebooks contain important and detailed notes about units and commanders, troop movements, and the day to day life of a soldier.

Dr. Estes Howe was a major figure in Belchertown’s history. He served as Town Clerk, Selectman and in many other positions of responsibility. Book II also contains his Clerk’s notes, 1782-1783. He and his second wife gave the town the land that is now the north part of Belchertown Common.

Local legend – likely true, but not recorded in any known contemporaneous account – relates that when the Marquis de Lafayette passed through Belchertown on his way to the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument, he was told of an ailing doctor who had given great service during the Revolution. Lafayette asked his driver to stop at Dr. Howe’s home and he visited with him, briefly, paying his respects, before continuing his journey through Massachusetts. Whether true or not, Dr. Howe was among the early doctors in Belchertown (some say the first) and he resided here until his death in March of 1826. His portrait, painted by Chester Harding, proudly hangs in the Stone House Museum.

About This Item


July 1775 - 1784


These two notebooks contain the Revolutionary War Record and Accounts of Dr. Estes Howe, 1775-1785. Book I is entitled, “Estes Howe, his book, Peeks Kill, June 7, 1777, Belcherton [sic], May 14” and is 56 pages, 6x7½ in., paper cover, stitched. Book II has no cover, but contains his Revolutionary War Records, 1775-1776, and his notes as Belchertown Town Clerk, 1782 – 1783. It is 68 pages, 6x7¼ in., stitched paper. Also available: a partial list of other content found in the journals.



Object ID = Box 004, Folder 03



Belchertown Historical Association, “Doctor Estes Howe’s Revolutionary War Notebooks,” Revolution Happened Here, accessed December 1, 2023,

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Please note, this transcription is still under construction. The "Remedies" notes are still being researched. If you have any expertise in 18th century medicine, please contact us!

Capt. Name Persons Sick Rank Disorders Remedys Applyd.
Angle Isaac Whord Privet Dysentary Rhii Ipecac d. albis
Roundsevel Lemuel Tabor Lieut. “—“ Rhii. Ial. Niter d. albis
Jepther Ashley Privet Slow Fever Sal. Niter Dilut Tea
August 4 Timathy Ingrums —“— Dysentary Rhii Cort??
Jacob Laisdell —“— “—“ Eonatick??
Abner Cody Sergt Dys on decl Bitters with ??
Wm. Allen Privet Dysentary Rhii??
Bardwell James McClantick —“— “—“ Rh??
Jona. Olds —“— “—“ “ as above—
Stuard Key —“— Rumitism Bill Cache of ??
Elijah Knights —“— Wounded Dressing Peculars
August 5 Lemuel Tabor Lieut. gone home ———
Roundsevel Timathy Ingrums Privet Dysentary Rhis Cat do Albis??
Daniel Ward “—“ Slow Fever ??Bitters
Daniel Giles “—“ Dysentary Ematick??
Walbridge Asher Nickels —“— Slow Fever Rhii??
Robert Parkes —“— “—“ Oint Cont.??
——Parker —“— “—“ “—Rhiis Sal Nitre?
Esm. Mungar —“— Epelepsey Pell???
Danforth Elijah Mason —“— Dys on decl Rhii Car??
Daniel Bullock —“— Billius Collick Pell Cache ??
Isaac Goff —“— Dys on decl Rhii??
Aaron Millar —“— Dysentary Ematick d’albis??
Simeon Whelan —“— “—“ “—“ “—“
[?]allen —— Ingalsen Capt. Hypondrical “—“ “—“
——Gutterage Lieut. Dysentary Rhii??
Capt. Name Persons Sick Rank Disorders Remedys Applyd.
August 5 Jacob Lasdell Privet Dysentary Rhii??
Bardwell James McClentick —“— “—“ Rhii Sal Niter??
Jona. Olds —“— “—“ “——“ ”——“
Wm. Allen —“— “—“ “——“ ”——“
Elijah Knights —“— Wounded Dress and Dressings
King Job Dean —“— Dysentary Rhii d’albas at Nite??
Colton Benj. Colton Drummer Dyerhea Ematick ——“—
Richard Fairman Privet Cold Betrl Bolis d’albis
Henry David Picher —“— Dysentary Rhii ??
Azariah Holloway —“— Pain in abdomen Pill Cache
Angel Isaac Hoard —“— Dysentary Rhii Sal Morab del albis??
Jedediah Jewett Corp. “——“ Ematick??
Peckard John Potama Negro “——“ Rhii d’albas??
Jedediah Gilbart —“— Slow Fever ??
6th Israel Gaff Privet Dyst. on decline Rhii??
Danforth Aaron Millar —“— Inflam. Fever Rhii Sal Niter d Albis
Elisha Mason —“— Dysentary Rhii Sal Niter
Stephen Ingals —“— Dyst. on decline Tint Cort??
Roundsevel Timathy Ingram —“— Dysentary Gone to the Horspittal
Wm. Parker —“— “—“ Ematick??
Peckard Joseph Wood Corp. Dysentary Gone to the Horspittal
Josiah Wood Privet Foul Stomach Ematick——
Lemuel [?] —“— “—“ “—“—“—
Henry Elisha Hocam —“— Dysentary Ematick?? at Night
David Picher —“— “——“ Dectan Cortet Elix???