Joshua Coffin’s history of Newbury recounts the romantic tale of Abraham Adams who walked three miles to visit his new wife Abigail, snowbound in her parents’ home during the Great Snow which began on the 21st of February, 1717.Snow fell up to six feet deep, with drifts as high as 25 feet, covering some houses over as high as their chimneys!
1717: This year is rendered memorable, by the unusual quantity of snow, which fell on the twentieth and twenty-fourth of February. In these two storms, the earth was covered with snow, from ten to fifteen feet, and, in some places, to twenty feet, deep. Many one-story houses were covered, and, in many places, paths were dug, from house to house, under the snow. Many visits were made, from place to place, by means of snow shoes, the wearers having first stepped out of their chamber windows, on these excursions.
Love, we know, “laughs at locksmiths,” and, of course, will disregard a snow-drift. Tradition informs us, that a Mr. Abraham Adams, wishing to visit his “lady love,” Miss Abigail Pierce, mounted his snow shoes, took a three-mile walk, for that purpose, and entered her residence as he left his own, namely, by the chamber window. He was the first person the family had seen from abroad, for more than a week.
Historic New england reports that the couple had their first child on Nov. 25, 1717, nine months after the Great Snow.
After the storm, search parties hunting for neighbors sometimes lost their bearings because they could not see any houses. A widow in Medford, Mass. with several children lived in a one-story house that was so deeply buried that it could not be found for several days. When it was reported that smoke had been seen coming out of a snow bank, neighbors rushed to her house with shovels. Upon entering, they found that she had resorted to burning furniture to keep her children warm.
Wild animals suffered from the prolonged winter and began attacking livestock, which farmers were forced to keep indoors. Deer too, were victims of the carnivores, and were herded into barns for their safety. In the spring, cattle were found frozen erect in their tracks. The Post Road from Newbury to Boston, passing through Ipswich, remained impassable until the middle of March. Cotton Mather left an account of “an horrid snow” in which “People, for some hours, could not pass from one side of a street unto another.” and declared it to be “as mighty a snow as perhaps has been known in memory of man.”