The Dead Speak: Unraveling and Understanding Patterns Found in Death Records

I do know this matter won’t sound prefer it’s associated to family tree, but it surely assuredly is, in additional methods than one. Actually, it’s a method the useless can, collectively, communicate to us.

This text is the results of a rabbit gap that I managed to reside in for per week or so. Extra of a rabbit tunnel, truly, an underground maze. I’m sharing this pleasure with you as a result of there’s good things down there – even when I didn’t discover my ancestor! That is related on your family tree too.

I’ve separated this knowledge from the precise details about my ancestors as a result of I needed to share this course of with you. Whereas my ancestors aren’t related to you (until you’re a cousin, wherein case, howdy), this course of actually is as a result of you’ll be able to replicate it.

So, why did I’m going down the rabbit gap?

Rabbit Gap Entrance

Three issues made me actually curious.

I used to be looking for the 1838/1839 property of my feminine ancestor, Elizabeth McKee, when my cousin, Carol, found a courtroom report the place her property administration was ordered. After all, I do know that administration means there was no executor. An administrator was courtroom appointed to deal with her affairs, which means she had no will.

Nevertheless, the actually large shock was that the entry straight above hers on the identical day was one other feminine, Margaret McKee. I had by no means heard of Margaret McKee, however she was clearly an grownup who was housekeeping, as a result of she had an property (minus land).

That’s actually unusual. There was no different McKee household on this space, and belief me, I’m painfully acquainted with this household. But, right here she was. Proper with Elizabeth, or I might by no means have observed. Virginia’s listed information, the place they exist, are painfully incomplete.

Was this an unknown daughter? If that’s the case, what are the probabilities of them perishing on the similar time? Not superb, proper?


Secondly, Elizabeth had a son, William, talked about in her husband, Andrew McKee’s will written in 1805. Nevertheless, Andrew didn’t die till 1814, when his will was probated with out being up to date. There was one William McKee who lived in a distinct a part of the identical county, so savvy genealogists observed that and linked the dots.

Nevertheless, there have been issues that actually bothered me about that connection. The extra I dug, the extra contradictory proof I unearthed, together with the truth that the William McKee dwelling within the southern district of the county was of age and on the tax listing by 1803, and the 1810 census reveals Andrew McKee’s son, William, nonetheless at house. Additionally, Andrew and Elizabeth weren’t sufficiently old to have a son born 1783ish, and Andrew wasn’t within the county till 1787. Oh, and William McKee was a VERY rich service provider with 1 / 4 million greenback property in 1833, who got here from New York Metropolis (spouse’s household) and in addition had a house in Lynchburg, VA. Andrew McKee, then again, was a farmer who first appeared on the tax listing with out a lot as a horse to his title, however hey, particulars.

If truth be told, after that 1805 point out of William McKee in Andrew’s will, and his cameo look within the 1810 census the place he was about 18, we by no means hear about William once more. The one affordable conclusion I can come to is that he died someday after the 1810 census and possibly earlier than 1814 when he was conspicuously absent at his father’s property sale. His older and youthful brothers have been each buying, however no William. He would have been about 22 by then.

If the William within the southern a part of the county was Andrew’s son William, he would have been talked about someplace, however he wasn’t. Stone chilly silence. He would even have been the oldest son, an grownup in 1805 when Andrew wrote his will, but son James was named because the executor.

Nope, one thing’s not including up.

However, what have been the probabilities of a younger, wholesome, strapping teenage boy dying? William had survived that perilous childhood deathtrap. Most individuals again then died as youngsters, or girls in childbirth, or as outdated folks, proper?


However is that this correct? Do we all know that, or assume that?

I needed to know.

Elizabeth’s oldest son, James McKee, died in 1855, not lengthy after the Washington County, Virginia loss of life information had begun to be saved in 1853, and he was reported to have been buried within the McKee Cemetery. The exterior reference seemed like that data got here from his loss of life report, however these loss of life information aren’t transcribed. Crumb!

I went looking out at FamilySearch in these loss of life report books after I determined to compile some loss of life knowledge. Early on, there weren’t loss of life certificates as we all know them, solely an index-type e-book of deaths with one line entry for every particular person.

I actually, really want to know what folks have been dying of again within the day, and their ages at loss of life. Are my suppositions right, or not?

What might I study concerning the life and instances of my ancestors, and their youngsters, from 1850s loss of life information, greater than 15 years after Elizabeth died?

It seems – so much!!


I compiled the primary six years of loss of life knowledge in a spreadsheet, which means trigger and age, from Washington County, Virginia, from 1853 via 1858, for a complete of 806 loss of life information. (I informed you I spent per week on this rabbit gap.)

Click on on photographs to enlarge.

As you’ll be able to see, there’s a goldmine of information right here. However look what’s NOT right here – place of burial. In case you might be questioning, I by no means did discover out the place James McKee is buried.

First, some common feedback and observations.

The primary few years of loss of life information didn’t embrace stillbirths. There gave the impression to be confusion about whether or not stillbirths, which have been usually referred to as “deadborn” have been to be included. I additionally bought the concept infants who died instantly after delivery could have been categorised as stillborn, based mostly on a scenario the place the mom died, and the newborn’s loss of life occurred the subsequent day however was recorded as stillborn, with an age of “1 day.” Most of the time, the “age” for stillborn infants was left clean.

A majority of the stillborn infants had not been named which most likely means names weren’t chosen for any infants till after they have been born. The distinctive scenario is a stillborn little one WITH a reputation. Some infants as much as 15 days outdated that died had not been named. I’ve run throughout this earlier than within the census information.

I ponder if that occurred as a result of the household was ready to see if the kid was a boy or woman, or in the event that they have been ready to see if the newborn lived, or if there was some superstition or customized about naming/not naming a baby earlier than it was born.

The oldest unnamed little one was a baby whose mom was enslaved and was 15 months outdated. I totally suspect that this little one had a reputation, however the “proprietor,” famous as such, who reported the loss of life, didn’t know the kid’s title, so the kid’s title was unknown, not unnamed.

As most genealogists know, center names didn’t come into frequent use till within the 1800s, typically mid/late 1800s in Appalachia, EXCEPT for center names that have been household names. In case your ancestor born earlier than 1800ish had a center title, it was doubtless a lady’s delivery surname – mom or perhaps a grandmother. I observed a few folks within the loss of life information with a center preliminary, however only a few.

I acknowledged an enormous variety of very acquainted names of households additionally present in Claiborne and Hancock Counties in Tennessee, and Lee and Russell Counties in Virginia.

There have been a complete of 806 deaths or about 134 deaths per yr, which was nearly a precise quantity for annually. The 1850 census confirmed 14,612 residents, so .9%, or lower than 1% of the inhabitants died annually. That’s fairly low, as a result of at that price it could take greater than 100 years for everybody to die if nobody else was born. This causes me to suspect that these early loss of life information weren’t full. Scanning the deaths as soon as once more, I spotted that there have been nearly no deaths reported throughout the winter months – December via February. The climate would have been dangerous, and folks wouldn’t have been going to city on snowy, slick, and chilly mountain roads driving horseback or in an open wagon. Moreover, you needed to ford the river to get to Abingdon from the northern district, close to Friendship, the place my ancestors lived. Brrr.

Widener Valley, close to Friendship – By RebelAt at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5,

By spring, the earth was inexperienced once more, and apparently, nobody thought of reporting previous deaths. Fields wanted to be plowed, and the spring livestock infants have been being born. Plus, the Holston River was nonetheless excessive, chilly and swollen from snow melt-off and spring rains.

So maybe these loss of life numbers ought to simply be uniformly multiplied by about 1.4. This actually doesn’t have an effect on our evaluation until the causes of loss of life modified based mostly on season, and I don’t assume a lot modified based mostly on what I’m seeing.

The 1850s was a comparatively regular time. No known epidemics on this space, and there have been no synthetic exterior stressors, like a conflict happening. Wars not solely disrupt economies, however males die, and girls carry the extra workload. Fewer youngsters are born, and if the preventing takes place in that location, meals provide and far else is disrupted, inflicting much more deaths. To not point out the illness that’s rampant in areas related to conflict.

Throughout the 30 Years’ Conflict in Germany within the 1600s, some complete areas have been depopulated, and the “fortunate” places solely misplaced half of their pre-war inhabitants numbers. Which means {couples} had lower than the self-replacement variety of 2 youngsters per household that lived. In case your ancestors had greater than two surviving youngsters, the inhabitants was rising.

As a result of the 1850 census listed people, it’s doable to reconstruct households utilizing these loss of life information if the deceased had been born by 1850.

These loss of life information additionally embrace each enslaved and free folks of shade.

The reason for loss of life was clean in 70 information.

I didn’t spherical ages up or all the way down to the yr. Many months/days weren’t given. If the particular person was beneath a yr outdated, I recorded the months or days.

If you happen to have been alive then, what do you assume was your most probably reason for loss of life throughout these years?

Most Seemingly Explanation for Loss of life

  1. Dysentery – 131 or 16% of the folks died of dysentery. Two actually unfortunate folks had dysentery with flux.
  2. Flux – 120 or 15% of the folks died of flux, also referred to as “bloody flux.”
  3. Fever – 107 or 13% of the folks died of fever. After all, fever could possibly be something from the flu to sepsis from an contaminated minimize. If you happen to had a fever and died, that’s what you died of, though the fever was a symptom. It might even have been Scarlet Fever or Typhoid Fever, and “fever” was most likely a catchall for the entire above.
  4. Consumption – 85 or 10% of the folks died of what’s now referred to as Tuberculosis.

There’s actually no sleek solution to say this, however let’s simply say that Flux gave the impression to be one other title for Dysentery, which causes me to marvel why each phrases have been used. After studying up on the topic (we genealogists do such morbid issues,) it seems that Flux at all times includes blood, and Dysentery could not. If you happen to aren’t queasy, you’ll be able to read about it, here.

I’ve left these two classes separate, as a result of they could have been attributable to totally different organisms, or the standards might need been totally different at the moment, but it surely’s secure to say that about one-third of the folks died a depressing loss of life from these two.

Know what the excellent news is? Within the US, folks didn’t must take care of the Plague, aka Black Plague, as European populations did.

Okay, so what else have been folks dying of?

Explanation for Loss of life Breakdown

This chart reveals causes of loss of life in alphabetical order, together with the youngest and oldest ages of people that died of this ailment. Some have been clearly afflictions of the younger, and a few of older folks. For instance, cough and croup clearly claimed the younger, whereas consumption was by and enormous constrained to the older inhabitants – most likely as a result of incubation time was important and victims usually didn’t die instantly.

Explanation for Loss of life Whole Youngest Oldest
A fall 1 65 65
Accident 4 5 60
Have an effect on of breast 1 79 79
Apoplexy 3 57 70
Clean (nothing written) 71 Clean (typically newborns) 90
Bleeding of lungs 1 32 32
Mind fever 1 42 42
Bronchitis 1 71 71
Burn 1 Clean Clean
By taking arsenic 1 50 50
Most cancers 2 69 79
Cholera morbus 1 1 1
Chilly 1 82 82
Congestive chills 1 17 17
Consumption 85 3, however by far more likely to be an grownup illness 75
Cough (I’d wager that is croup) 8 3 months 4
Croup 17 2 months 9
Deadborn/stillborn 22 Clean 1 day
Diarrhea 2 7 78
Dyspepsia 2 25 53
Dropsey 14 5, subsequent youngest is 22, by far an older particular person’s illness 80
Drowned 2 3 13
Dysentery 131 1 day (uncertain), 3 months 71
Encephalitis 1 68 68
Fall of tree 1 29 29
Fever 107 1 day 83
Suits (epilepsy) 2 1 1
Flux 120 18 days 99
Discovered useless 1 34 34
Gravel (gall stones) 2 76 90
Hemialgia 1 27 27
Hemorrhage of lungs 2 27 74
Hives 2 3 months 7 months
Irritation 11 1 month 29
Irritation of bowels 2 Clean however mentioned “poor home” 34
Irritation of mind 11 1 66
Irritation of lungs 7 1 72
Accidents obtained from machine 1 66 66
Killed 3 1 day 45
Killed by horse 1 17 17
Liver grievance 3 18 months 63
Locked in? 1 13 13
Neuralgia 1 12 12
Previous age 21 7 (this must be mistaken), second is 65 90
Palalasis, perhaps paralysis 1 19 19
Paloog? of coronary heart 1 56 56
Palsy 5 18 days 96
Patacha? 1 37 37
Pleurisy 1 21 21
Pneumonia 8 2 46
Poisoned 1 2 2
Rheumatism 1 67 67
Rufotine? 1 73 73
Scarlet Fever 27 11 months 17
Scrofula 7 3 33
Shot herself 1 21 21
Shot himself 1 51 51
Sore throat 1 3 months 3 months
Spanns? 1 14 days 14 days
Spinal affliction 1 2 2
Stabbed 1 62 62
Tetanus 1 79 79
Thrown from horse 1 18 18
Typhoid Fever 20 10 months 80
Unknown 38 1 day 95
Wheel? 1 28 28
White swelling 1 75 75
Whooping cough 4 1 2

Explanation for Loss of life in Highest Class Order

Right here we have now the identical data sorted by the best class whole. Dysentery led the pack, affecting the very younger and the very outdated as properly, as did Flux. Actually, the 99-year-old girl was the oldest loss of life recorded throughout that 6 years. It’s fairly wonderful that she managed to keep away from all different deaths her complete life, earlier than antibiotics and fashionable medication, and even in the long run, it wasn’t her coronary heart that gave out.

Explanation for Loss of life Whole Youngest Oldest
Dysentery 131 1 day (uncertain), 3 months 71
Flux 120 18 days 99
Fever 107 1 day 83
Consumption 85 3, however by far more likely to be an grownup illness 75
Clean (nothing written) 71 Clean (typically newborns) 90
Unknown 38 1 day 95
Scarlet Fever 27 11 months 17
Deadborn/stillborn 22 Clean 1 day
Previous age 21 7 (this must be mistaken), second oldest is 65 90
Typhoid Fever 20 10 months 80
Croup 17 2 months 9
Dropsey 14 5, subsequent youngest is 22, by far an older particular person’s illness 80
Irritation 11 1 month 29
Irritation of mind 11 1 66
Cough (I’d wager that is croup) 8 3 months 4
Pneumonia 8 2 46
Irritation of lungs 7 1 72
Scrofula 7 3 33
Palsy 5 18 days 96
Accident 4 5 60
Whooping cough 4 1 2
Apoplexy 3 57 70
Killed 3 1 day 45
Liver grievance 3 18 months 63
Most cancers 2 69 79
Diarrhea 2 7 78
Dyspepsia 2 25 53
Drowned 2 3 13
Suits (epilepsy) 2 1 1
Gravel (gall stones) 2 76 90
Hemorrhage of lungs 2 27 74
Hives 2 3 months 7 months
Irritation of bowels 2 Clean however mentioned “poor home” 34
A fall 1 65 65
Have an effect on of breast 1 79 79
Bleeding of lungs 1 32 32
Mind fever 1 42 42
Bronchitis 1 71 71
Burn 1 Clean Clean
By taking arsenic 1 50 50
Cholera morbus 1 1 1
Chilly 1 82 82
Congestive chills 1 17 17
Encephalitis 1 68 68
Fall of tree 1 29 29
Discovered useless 1 34 34
Hemialgia 1 27 27
Accidents obtained from machine 1 66 66
Killed by horse 1 17 17
Locked in? 1 13 13
Neuralgia 1 12 12
Palalasis, perhaps paralysis 1 19 19
Paloog? of coronary heart 1 56 56
Patacha? 1 37 37
Pleurisy 1 21 21
Poisoned 1 2 2
Rheumatism 1 67 67
Rufotine? 1 73 73
Shot herself 1 21 21
Shot himself 1 51 51
Sore throat 1 3 months 3 months
Spanns? 1 14 days 14 days
Spinal affliction 1 2 2
Stabbed 1 62 62
Tetanus 1 79 79
Thrown from horse 1 18 18
Wheel? 1 28 28
White swelling 1 75 75

What Am I Most Prone to Die Of?

At any age, what’s your most probably reason for loss of life earlier than the age of recent medication in Washington County, VA? It’s value noting that these causes of loss of life are most likely very comparable throughout a lot of the US throughout this time, besides maybe for japanese seaboard cities with heavy concentrations of individuals.

Utilizing the chart under, discover the age by yr you’re looking for within the age column. I recorded the loss of life ages by month and week for infants lower than a yr outdated, however on this chart, I’ve mixed them into the class of “lower than one yr.”

The reason for loss of life column is simply that. I’ve bolded the most typical reason for loss of life for that age group. In some circumstances, a couple of is bolded as a result of clean and unknown aren’t causes of loss of life. In different cases, there are a number of causes of loss of life which are tied.

The third column is the variety of deaths for that age by reason for loss of life

The fourth column is the full variety of deaths, in purple, for that age.

So, age 0 is Deadborn, or Stillborn, which I’ve mixed into one class. There have been 31 deaths from that trigger (bear in mind, the early years didn’t report stillbirths), and the full deaths for age 0 is 31.

Within the age class of <1 yr, 22 deaths have been clean and had no reason for loss of life, and 17 have been unknown, which might imply that it wasn’t recorded or “the newborn simply died.” Issues like SIDS and infants with congenital coronary heart defects would all be within the sudden loss of life class which might have been unknown then. The very best precise reason for loss of life is Dysentery with 12. The whole for the age of lower than one yr is 88.

So let me offer you an concept of learn how to use this chart. Let’s say your ancestor died at about 70 years of age. You don’t have any additional data.

What sorts of illnesses have been causes of loss of life for a 70-year-old?

Scan all the way down to age 70. You will note that a number of issues might need induced that particular person’s loss of life, in about equal chance. Nevertheless, if I let you know that her daughter who was about 28 and lived together with her, died at about the identical time, that may shift your evaluation to favoring communicable illnesses present in each the classes for age 38 and for age 70. You might need guessed I’m referring to Margaret and Elizabeth McKee.

Fever and dysentery have been killing 28-year-old folks. Fever can also be listed for age 70, as is Consumption. If one had Consumption, and contracted both a fever or dysentery, that mixture would definitely be deadly. Right here’s what I do know from Elizabeth’s property settlement – a “woman” was paid to look after her “in her closing sickness” which didn’t appear to be fast, based mostly on the quantity that the caregiver was paid. So we all know Elizabeth didn’t die rapidly and was ailing for a while. I’m leaning in direction of consumption right here, perhaps sophisticated by one thing else that Margaret additionally had. Or, perhaps they each had consumption.

What about William, assuming he died between about 18 and 22? Dysentery, Flux or Consumption. It’s doable that he died of the identical factor as Andrew within the spring of 1814. Andrew would have been about 50. Few folks died at 50, however since he didn’t replace his will, he could have died rapidly or been too ailing to replace the need. Dysentery is a major candidate for each.

Age Explanation for loss of life # Deaths Whole by Age 12 months
0 Deadborn 31 31
<1 Clean 22 88
<1 Unknown 17
<1 Dysentery 12
<1 Flux 9
<1 Fever 8
<1 Croup 6
<1 Irritation 3
<1 Cough 2
<1 Hives 2
<1 Killed 1
<1 Liver grievance 1
<1 Palsy 1
<1 Scarlet Fever 1
<1 Sore throat 1
<1 Spanns? 1
<1 Typhoid Fever 1
1 Flux 13 57
1 Dysentery 12
1 Fever 7
1 Scarlet Fever 6
1 Unknown 6
1 Cough 4
1 Whooping Cough 3
1 Suits 2
1 Clean 1
1 Cholera Morbus 1
1 Irritation of mind 1
1 irritation of lungs 1
2 Flux 11 46
2 Fever 8
2 Dysentery 7
2 Scarlet Fever 5
2 Clean 3
2 Croup 3
2 Irritation 2
2 Unknown 2
2 Irritation of head 1
2 Pneumonia 1
2 Poisoned 1
2 Spinal Affliction 1
2 Whooping Cough 1
3 Dysentery 13 40
3 Fever 7
3 Flux 7
3 Cough 3
3 Typhoid Fever 3
3 Scarlet Fever 2
3 Consumption 1
3 Drowned 1
3 Irritation of lungs 1
3 Scrofula 1
3 Unknown 1
4 Flux 9 32
4 Dysentery 6
4 Fever 6
4 Scarlet fever 4
4 Irritation 2
4 Irritation of mind 2
4 Clean 1
4 Cough 1
4 Unknown 1
5 Dysentery 7 24
5 Flux 5
5 Fever 3
5 Accident 1
5 Dropsy 1
5 Dysentery with flux 1
5 Irritation 1
5 Liver grievance 1
5 Pneumonia 1
5 Scarlet fever 1
5 Scrofula 1
5 Unknown 1
6 Flux 11 29
6 Dysentery 6
6 Fever 3
6 Clean 2
6 Scarlet Fever 2
6 Consumption 1
6 Croup 1
6 Pneumonia 1
6 Scrofula 1
6 Unknown 1
7 Dysentery 12 24
7 Flux 8
7 Fever 2
7 Diarrhea 1
7 Previous age 1
8 Dysentery 4 18
8 Flux 4
8 Scarlet Fever 4
8 Fever 3
8 Consumption 1
8 Irritation of mind 1
8 Unknown 1
9 Dysentery 6 17
9 Fever 2
9 Flux 2
9 Consumption 1
9 Croup 1
9 irritation 1
9 irritation of lungs 1
9 Killed 1
9 Typhoid Fever 1
9 Unknown 1
10 Dysentery 5 7
10 Fever 2
11 Dysentery 2 9
11 Flux 2
11 Clean 1
11 Consumption 1
11 Fever 1
11 Irritation of mind 1
11 Typhoid Fever 1
12 Dysentery 3 12
12 Flux 3
12 Accident 1
12 Clean 1
12 Consumption 1
12 Fever 1
12 Neuralgia 1
12 Scarlet Fever 1
13 Dysentery 2 8
13 Flux 2
13 Drowned 1
13 Fever 1
13 Locked In? 1
13 Unknown 1
14 Dysentery 2 4
14 Flux 1
14 Typhoid Fever 1
15 Clean 1 5
15 Consumption 1
15 Dysentery 1
15 Irritation of lungs 1
15 Scrofula 1
16 Consumption 2 7
16 Dysentery 2
16 Fever 1
16 Flux 1
16 Irritation of mind 1
17 Consumption 2 10
17 Clean 1
17 Congestive chills 1
17 Dysentery 1
17 Fever 1
17 Killed by horse 1
17 Scarlet fever 1
17 Scrofula 1
17 Typhoid Fever 1
18 Consumption 2 7
18 Flux 2
18 Fever 1
18 Thrown from horse 1
18 Typhoid Fever 1
19 Dysentery 4 7
19 Consumption 1
19 Flux 1
19 Paralysis 1
20 Fever 3 9
20 Consumption 2
20 Flux 2
20 Dysentery 1
20 Typhoid Fever 1
21 Consumption 4 12
21 Dysentery 4
21 Fever 2
21 Pleurisy 1
21 Shot herself 1
22 Flux 3 9
22 Consumption 2
22 Clean 1
22 Dropsy 1
22 Fever 1
22 Irritation of mind 1
23 Consumption 3 11
23 Clean 2
23 Dysentery 2
23 Fever 2
23 Flux 1
23 Scrofula 1
24 Clean 1 4
24 Fever 1
24 Flux 1
24 Typhoid Fever 1
25 Consumption 2 8
25 Fever 2
25 Clean 1
25 Dyspepsia? 1
25 Flux 1
25 Unknown 1
26 Fever 2 5
26 Clean 1
26 Consumption 1
26 Dysentery 1
27 Flux 1 4
27 Hemialgia 1
27 Hemorrhage lungs 1
27 Irritation 1
28 Fever 3 7
28 Dysentery 1
28 Irritation of mind 1
28 Unknown 1
28 Wheel? 1
29 Typhoid Fever 2 6
29 Clean 1
29 Consumption 1
29 Fall of tree 1
29 irritation 1
30 Fever 3 6
30 Clean 1
30 Consumption 1
30 Flux 1
31 Consumption 4 4
32 Bleeding of lungs 1 5
32 Consumption 1
32 Fever 1
32 Flux 1
32 Unknown 1
33 Consumption 3 6
33 Fever 1
33 Flux 1
33 Scrofula 1
34 Dysentery 1 6
34 Fever 1
34 Discovered useless 1
34 Irritation of bowels 1
34 Pneumonia 1
34 Typhoid Fever 1
35 Consumption 3 6
35 Dropsy 1
35 Fever 1
35 Pneumonia 1
36 Clean 2 5
36 Consumption 1
36 Dysentery 1
36 Fever 1
37 Patacha 1 2
37 Pneumonia 1
38 Consumption 2 4
38 Fever 1
38 Flux 1
39 Typhoid Fever 1 1
40 Fever 2 7
40 Consumption 1
40 Dysentery 1
40 Flux 1
40 Pneumonia 1
40 Typhoid Fever 1
41 Clean 2 2
42 Mind fever 1 1
43 Consumption 1 4
43 Dysentery 1
43 Irritation of mind 1
43 Unknown 1
44 Consumption 2 2
45 Dropsy 1 4
45 Dysentery 1
45 Fever 1
45 Killed 1
46 Consumption 1 3
46 Dysentery 1
46 Pneumonia 1
47 Flux 2 4
47 Consumption 1
47 Dysentery 1
48 Consumption 1
48 Fever 1 2
49 Clean 1 3
49 Consumption 1
49 Flux 1
50 Dysentery 2 5
50 By taking arsenic 1
50 Consumption 1
50 Irritation of lungs 1
51 Consumption 2 3
51 Shot himself 1
52 Consumption 3 3
53 Dyspepsia? 1 2
53 Fever 1
54 Clean 1 4 
54 Consumption 1  
54 Dysentery 1  
54 Fever 1
55 Fever 2 4
55 Consumption 1
55 Dropsy 1
56 Consumption 5 7
56 Flux 1
56 Paloog? of coronary heart 1
57 Apoplexy 1 2
57 Consumption 1
58 Dysentery 1 1
59 Accident 1  3
59 Fever 1  
59 Typhoid Fever 1
60 Fever 2 6
60 Accident 1
60 Apoplexy suppose 1
60 Clean 1
60 Palsy 1
61 Consumption 3 3
62 Dysentery 1 3
62 Irritation of mind 1
62 Stabbed 1
63 Clean 1  3
63 Flux 1  
63 Liver grievance 1
64 Clean 1  4
64 Consumption 1  
64 Dropsy 1  
64 Typhoid Fever 1
65 Clean 3 12
65 Consumption 3
65 Dysentery 2
65 ? a fall 1
65 Dropsy 1
65 Previous age 1
65 Unknown 1
66 Consumption 1 5
66 Dropsy 1
66 Dysentery 1
66 Irritation of mind 1
66 Accidents obtained from machine 1
67 Rheumatism 1 1
68 Dysentery 1 3
68 Encephalitis 1
68 Flux 1
69 Most cancers 1  2
69 Consumption 1
70 Dropsy 2 7
70 Apoplexy 1
70 Clean 1
70 Consumption 1
70 Fever 1
70 Previous age 1
71 Bronchitis 1  4
71 Consumption 1  
71 Dysentery 1  
71 Previous age 1
72 Previous age 2 6
72 Clean 1
72 Dropsy 1
72 Irritation of lungs 1
72 Typhoid Fever 1
73 Consumption 1  4
73 Fever 1  
73 Previous age 1  
73 rufotine? 1
74 Clean 2 8
74 Consumption 2
74 Flux 1
74 Hemorrhage lungs 1
74 Previous age 1
74 Unknown 1
75 Consumption 1 6
75 Dropsy 1
75 Fever 1
75 Flux 1
75 Previous age 1
75 White swelling 1
76 Clean 1 5
76 Diarrhea 1
76 Dropsy 1
76 Gravel 1
76 Previous age 1
77 Flux 1 1
78 Previous age 1 1
79 Flux 2 5
79 Affection of breast 1
79 Most cancers 1
79 Tetanus 1
80 Dropsy 1  4
80 Fever 1  
80 Previous age 1  
80 Typhoid Fever 1
81 Fever 2 4
81 Previous age 1
81 Palsy 1
82 Chilly 1 3
82 Fever 1
82 Previous age 1
83 Fever 1 1
84 Flux 1  2
84 Previous age 1
85 Palsy 1 1
87 Previous age 2  4
87 Clean 1
87 Flux 1
88 Previous age 3 3
90 Clean 1  3
90 Gravel 1  
90 Previous age 1
95 Unknown 1 1
96 Palsy 1 1
99 Flux 1 1
clean Consumption 4 12
clean Fever 3
clean Clean 1
clean Burn 1
clean Irritation of lungs 1
clean Fever 1
clean Irritation of bowels 1

Youngsters’s Deaths Beneath a 12 months

For these , youngsters’s deaths beneath a yr are detailed within the chart under by age.

Age Explanation for Loss of life # Deaths
0 Deadborn 30
0 Unknown 1
1 day Clean 4
1 day Unknown 3
1 day Deadborn 2
1 day Dysentery 1
1 day Fever 1
1 day Killed 1
2 days Clean 3
5 days Clean 2
5 days Fever 1
8 days Unknown 1
10 days Unknown 2
10 days Clean 1
12 days Unknown 1
13 days Clean 3
14 days Unknown 2
14 days Spanns? 1
18 days Flux 2
18 days Palsy 1
18 days Liver grievance 1
21 days Fever 1
1 mos Irritation 1
1 mos Clean 3
1 mos Flux 1
1 mos Unknown 1
2 mos Croup 1
2 mos Fever 1
2 mos Unknown 1
3 mos Unknown 2
3 mos Clean 1
3 mos Cough 1
3 mos Croup 1
3 mos Dysentery with flux 1
3 mos Fever 1
3 mos Flux 1
3 mos Hives 1
3 mos Sore throat 1
4 mos Clean 2
4 mos Unknown 2
4 mos Dysentery 1
4 mos Irritation 1
5 mos Clean 1
5 mos Croup 1
5 mos Dysentery 1
5 mos Fever 1
5 mos Flux 1
6 mos Dysentery 4
6 mos Cough 1
6 mos Croup 1
6 mos Fever 1
6 mos Flux 1
7 mos Croup 2
7 mos Clean 1
7 mos Dysentery 1
7 mos Hives 1
7 mos Irritation 1
8 mos Flux 2
8 mos Dysentery 1
10 mos Dysentery 2
10 mos Typhoid Fever 1
11 mos Clean 1
11 mos Fever 1
11 mos Flux 1
11 mos Scarlet Fever 1

What Age Class is the Most Prone to Die?

As an individual dwelling again within the 1800s, at what age would you’ve got been the most probably to die?

Eliminating information that don’t embrace ages, we will take a look at the age class wherein individuals are most probably to take that final journey to the churchyard on the again of the wagon.

I totally anticipate that if the stillbirths had been recorded throughout the first a part of this comparability, stillbirths would outnumber the remaining. So, should you managed to outlive delivery, then your subsequent large problem could be to outlive the subsequent 9 years of your life, as illustrated by the variety of deaths for these years, in chronological order.

Age # of Deaths
<1 88
1 57
2 46
3 40
4 32
Deadborn 31
6 29
5 24
7 24
8 18
9 17
12 12
21 12
23 11
17 10
11 9
20 9
22 9
13 8
25 8
74 8
10 7
16 7
18 7
19 7
28 7
40 7
56 7
70 7
29 6
30 6
33 6
34 6
35 6
60 6
72 6
75 6
15 5
23 5
32 5
36 5
50 5
76 5
79 5
14 4
24 4
27 4
31 4
38 4
43 4
45 4
47 4
54 4
55 4
71 4
73 4
80 4
81 4
87 4
46 3
49 3
51 3
52 3
59 3
82 3
88 3
90 3
37 2
41 2
44 2
48 2
53 2
57 2
84 2
39 1
42 1
58 1
77 1
78 1
83 1
85 1
95 1
96 1
99 1

This knowledge considerably dispells the concept most girls died in childbirth, though on the ages {that a} first little one could be born, early 20s, deaths are pretty excessive. Loss of life throughout or as a direct results of childbirth clearly did occur, however typically the mom was recorded as having died of fever. It’s onerous to know which got here first, the fever or the childbirth. We see proof of those deaths within the census, and once we discover males remarrying, however I don’t assume childbirth-related loss of life occurred as typically as I beforehand thought.

Sadly, “childbirth” was not listed as a reason for loss of life. In later years, after this evaluation, I did see a number of listed as “childbed fever” which was a type of sepsis. So sure, the mom clearly had a fever, however she wouldn’t have had the fever had she not given delivery.

Based mostly on these information, we will’t inform what number of girls truly died in or on account of childbirth.

How Many Individuals Have been Previous?

After all, not all “outdated” folks died throughout these six years, however a number of did.

Males might typically cease paying tithes and a few taxes above the age of fifty, though that different considerably by location and time interval.

Actually, folks of age 60 and over have been thought of “outdated.” Look how a lot they’d managed to outlive! To not point out their our bodies most likely ached from a long time of backbreaking work plus accidents that will or could not have healed appropriately. The youngest particular person with an “outdated age” reason for loss of life was 65. We don’t think about that outdated right now.

Nonetheless, 65 will be retirement age, so I assume “outdated” is a matter of notion and circumstances.

It’s fascinating to have a look at every purple age class, by yr, above 60.

After all, there are fewer and fewer deaths as age will increase considerably as a result of there are fewer and fewer folks left to die in that class. Do not forget that these numbers embody everybody who died throughout a 6-year interval. Solely 9 folks of their 90s died in 6 years, or one each eight months, on common.

It hurts my coronary heart that the poor 99-year-old woman didn’t simply get to move away in her sleep or rocking chair, however as an alternative died a depressing loss of life of Flux.

Twenty-two folks died of their 80s, or about one particular person each 4 months or so.

Forty-eight folks died of their 70s, or 8 per yr, or about one each six weeks.

There have been 42 folks needing funeral companies of their 60s, so barely fewer than of their 70s.

By the point folks of their 90s have been passing away, there most likely weren’t many individuals that outdated left within the county, however there have been clearly plenty of folks of their 60s, 70s, and even 80s that have been dwelling.

What About Households?

I’ll always remember my first foray right into a cemetery on my own after I was about 10 years outdated. We have been visiting my brother who lived in a tiny crossroads farm city in Indiana that prolonged perhaps two blocks in every course. I used to be tired of grownup speak and was allowed to take a stroll. I discovered a cemetery not too far-off, alongside the Eel River by an outdated coated bridge, and strolled via the cemetery, simply trying round.

I recall noticing that one stone was totally different – tall, older, and slender – with small engraving on all 4 sides as an alternative of on the entrance just like the others. I learn the inscriptions from the late 1800s and found that youngsters with the identical final title, clearly siblings, have been buried on all 4 sides and had died inside a number of days of one another. I used to be surprised and instantly, even at 10, thought of how horrible it should have been for these mother and father. I puzzled what on earth had occurred to these youngsters. I hadn’t even heard of Dystnetery and Flux, phrases all-too-familiar to our ancestors.

Over time, as genealogists working with census knowledge, we’ve come to just accept that youngsters died – however 4, collectively, a number of days aside? My 10-year-old mind thought that perhaps their home burned, however that may have meant that all of them died without delay, so I dismissed that concept.

I’m nonetheless combating the concept Elizabeth, who would have been about 70, and Margaret, who would have been about 28, truly died at or very close to the identical time. What are the probabilities of that occuring? How typically did this truly happen in households? That simply appears too uncommon to be happenstance. Elizabeth and Margaret weren’t susceptible younger youngsters.

Elizabeth was older, 70ish, so her loss of life isn’t stunning, however a 28-year-old girl who was not married, so no childbirth concerned, who most likely lived in the identical home together with her mom simply occurred to have her property probated the identical day as her mom?

Okay, so how frequent was this? I don’t wish to join non-existent dots, like the opposite William McKee, however then again, I don’t wish to ignore or dismiss the apparent both.

I went again and took one other take a look at these loss of life information, scanning for frequent surnames on the identical web page. To be clear, this implies I doubtless missed a number of.

However, I additionally discovered a number of, and what I discovered chilled me to the bone.

These youngsters are all siblings, from the identical household, until in any other case famous. Every group died in the identical yr.

  • Two youngsters, aged 6 and three, died on Could 19 and 24 of fever.
  • Two youngsters died on the identical day in August of fever.
  • A pair, each aged 34, died on October 9 and November 1.
  • Three youngsters aged 5, 7, and 6 months died on October 25, November 10, and 13 of dysentery.
  • Two youngsters aged 11 months, and three years died on September 8 and October 8 of fever.
  • Two youngsters aged 5 and a couple of died of Scarlet Fever, each on August 5th.
  • Three youngsters aged 8, 6, and three died of fever on November 2, 6, and 12.
  • A mom and three youngsters died of fever and scarlet fever on June 1 (2 youngsters), June 2, and 4 (the mom). OMG that poor girl. They have been all reported by the youngsters’s father. That poor man. I’m amazed he might perform to do something in any respect.
  • Two youngsters died of cough, aged 6 months and 1 yr, 11 months. This poor mom misplaced each of her infants.
  • Two youngsters died of cough on Could 15 and 29, ages 1 and 4.
  • Mom and little one, age 43 and age 8. She died of irritation of the mind and the kid died of Scarlet Fever. The mom died on April 12 and the kid on June 5th. One among this household’s enslaved youngsters, age 6, additionally died of Scarlet Fever on June 2.
  • Three relations, aged 65, 10 months, and seven years died of Dysentery on September 24, 25, and October 18. A person misplaced his two youngsters, then his mom, and reported all 3. I’d wager his mom was caring for his youngsters whereas they have been ailing.
  • A mom and daughter, aged 56 and 17, died on June 18 and 21 of Consumption. The son/brother was the informant of each deaths, which causes me to marvel if the daddy was already deceased.
  • A daughter died in April and her mom in October of Consumption. The husband/father was the informant. I can’t assist however marvel if he later died of the identical factor too.
  • Two youngsters, aged 7 and 9, died of Dysentery in September and October in Glade Springs, not removed from my ancestors.
  • Two extra youngsters died of dysentery on the similar time in Rush Creek, ages 10 and 12. Dysentery is attributable to contact with fecal matter, however can be unfold by poor hygiene, like not washing fingers. After all, folks didn’t know that.
  • The Widener household skilled heart-wrenching losses starting in July when 3 Widener youngsters ages 7, 9, and 12 died of Dysentery. Six extra Widener youngsters from a distinct set of fogeys, ages 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, and 9 died on September 9, 14, 25, and October 1 in Widener Valley. Then a mom and two extra youngsters in the identical prolonged household aged 5, 8, and 45 died on September 27, October 4, and 14 (the mom). There have been a pair different Widener relations who died too, all of Dysentery, and have been clearly associated, however I couldn’t place them with the others. That’s 14 folks in whole who perished inside 4 months or so.
  • 4 youngsters, 12, 17, 19, and 21, died of Dysentery. They lived on the Center Fork of the Holston, very near my ancestors. One died on August 17 and three on the 18th. Good Heavens – three on the identical say. These poor mother and father. I wager the whole household was gravely ailing.
  • Three youngsters aged 7 months, 3, and seven died of Dysentery on August 21, 26, and September 15.
  • 4 relations, ages 65, 66, 25, and 40, died. The son reported his mother and father, then his spouse, then he died of Dysentery too.
  • Three youngsters, aged 17, 15, and a couple of months died of Scrofula on August 28, September (date not given), and November 25th. The mom reported all 3.
  • John Larimer’s 2 youngsters, Hetty and Sarah, aged 6 and three, died August 6 and 12, 1854, each of Dysentery. The mother and father have been John and Sarah Larimer, and he reported the deaths of each. These are most likely my ancestor, Elizabeth Mckee’s great-grandchildren.
  • Two youngsters aged 3 and 6 died of Dysentery on August 21 and September 13.
  • Three youngsters aged 7, 9, and 11 died of Dysentery on September 20, October 13, and 27.
  • Two youngsters aged 7 and 9 died on August 7 and 12 of Dysentery.
  • Two youngsters aged 4 and eight died of the Flux in August and October
  • Two youngsters aged 24 and 14 died of the Flux on August 24 and 27 and have been reported by their mom.
  • Three youngsters aged 2, 4, and 18 died of Flux in September, reported by their mom. Was the daddy ailing himself, or maybe already deceased?
  • A person misplaced his mom, brother, little one, and spouse, ages 81, 60, and 35. The older folks had Flux (August – October), the spouse had fever, and the kid was stillborn in July.
  • Youngsters ages 7 and 13 died of fever in June and December.
  • A mom died of hemorrhage of the lungs on July 12, and her 12-day-old little one died 3 days later with no reason for loss of life listed.
  • A child was stillborn in March, and their older little one, age 3, died of Flux in October.
  • An individual misplaced their mom, age 56, then their 2-year-old little one to Flux on Could 21 and 24. I wager they have been buried aspect by aspect.
  • A pair misplaced 2 youngsters, age 4 and the opposite age not said, each on October 19, of Consumption. This makes me marvel if the reason for loss of life was truly one thing else, however that mattered little to the grieving mother and father.
  • Three youngsters, ages 1, 4, and eight have been misplaced to Flux in June, July and September.
  • Two youngsters aged 1 and 5 died of Flux on June 3 and 20.
  • Many Fleenor prolonged relations died of Flux, starting with one man and three youngsters, aged 1, 3, and 6. Then his mom or grandmother died, age 79. An enslaved particular person owned by the household, age 33 and her little one, age 3 died too. One other Fleenor man together with 6 youngsters aged 2, 3, 7, 9, and 11, plus one which was stillborn. Additionally, the household matriarch, age 89 plus an extra enslaved particular person, age 4, starting with the enslaved little one in March. A lot of the relaxation have been in June via August of 1858. It appears like the whole plantation had Flux, leading to 16 deaths, and that’s assuming I discovered all of them. Married daughters wouldn’t have had the Fleenor surname.
  • Two youngsters died, one 18-month-old died in August of liver grievance, no matter that was, and one was stillborn in October.
  • Two of Robert Larimore’s youngsters, ages 3 and eight, died of Scarlet Fever in March and December of 1858. They have been probably my ancestor Elizabeth McKee’s great-grandchildren.
  • A 35-year-old girl died, and her little one was stillborn. She died of Consumption on October 24, and the newborn died on twenty fifth, though I don’t know the way the newborn was stillborn the day after she died. I can’t think about being pregnant whereas preventing for one’s breath with Tuberculosis.
  • Two youngsters aged 12 and eight died of Scarlet Fever on March 8 and 15.

I don’t know anybody personally, earlier than Covid, aside from a automotive accident, that misplaced a number of relations on the similar time.

Wow, a lot grief. I feel I simply want to sit down a minute.

Bonus – Relationships, Occupations, and Areas

There’s extra too. The informant is listed and their relationship to the deceased. This might help kind out different relationships as properly.

Birthplaces aren’t simply helpful for the folks listed however can present important migration paths for the residents of this county and neighborhood.

Sadly, some years merely had the native land listed as Washington County with ditto marks for everybody, which clearly will not be correct, so these years merely must be ignored, sadly. Nevertheless, should you don’t take a look at what’s “regular” for different years, you received’t understand that the yr you might be viewing will not be correct.

Probably the most informative locations of delivery are the places for the oldest folks as a result of they attain again the furthest in time. If you happen to can reconstruct their household, and discover your ancestor in some way tied to theirs, that will present a HUGE clue for you. One of the vital tough duties for genealogists is determining the place somebody got here from.

Tax, property, land, and courtroom information are great for establishing and fleshing out lists of individuals discovered together with your ancestors. Individuals typically moved and migrated in teams – not just for security throughout the journey however to have sources and assist as soon as arriving. Plus, folks talked about “wonderful alternatives” within the locations they gathered – at church, on farms, and on the town.

Beginning Locations discovered:

  • Albemarle VA
  • Botetourt, VA (2)
  • Ashe Co., NC
  • Bartley Co, PA
  • Bedford Co., NC
  • Buckingham Co., VA
  • Craven Co., NC (2)
  • Greene Co, Illinois
  • Hagerstown, PA
  • Lee Co., VA – a pupil of Emory and Henry College (who knew there was a school on this county within the 1850s)
  • Massachusetts
  • Nashville, TN
  • NC (3)
  • Orange Co., NC
  • Pulaski Co., KY (2) pupil of Emory and Henry Faculty
  • Scotland
  • Sevier Co., NC
  • Smyth Co., VA (7)
  • Stokes Co., NC (2)
  • Surry Co., NC
  • Wilkes Co., NC
  • Wythe Co., VA

The loss of life location will be very particular, clean, simply the county title, and even one thing surprising like “poor home.” I used to be stunned to see some loss of life places in different counties. I ponder if the loss of life was merely recorded, or if the physique was introduced again for burial.

Enslaved Individuals

For researchers looking for enslaved folks, loss of life information started within the early 1850s, greater than a decade earlier than the Civil Conflict, and supply context for the place your ancestor was discovered and with whom. Their loss of life location is commonly the title or location of a plantation, and even when not, the proprietor’s title will be tracked via land and tax records. Even when your ancestors died in earlier generations, or after the Civil Conflict, discovering that thread to drag is invaluable. Monitoring the enslaving household again to the place they got here from doubtless informs you of the place your ancestors most likely got here from too, provided that rich households typically introduced enslaved folks together with them to the frontier.

I believe that not all deaths of enslaved folks have been recorded.

Correlating loss of life information with tax information reaching again in time will be very enlightening. Free folks of shade are recorded on tax information as properly. Fortunate for us, The tax collector wasn’t going to overlook any income!

Medical Therapy

What was medical treatment like previous to the 1900s?

Most individuals handled themselves, or a neighborhood midwife additionally allotted amassed information of herbs and remedies that addressed the signs of the affected person.

There have been medical doctors in Washington County, however clearly, with out information of recent medication, and with out many instruments, there typically wasn’t so much they may do. Bleeding as a therapy was falling out of favor however continued at some stage till the late 1800s, and sometimes made a foul scenario worse. In conditions the place the physique was severely weakened and dehydrated, like with Dysentery and Flux, the lack of blood would simply be another factor for a beleaguered physique to struggle.

Docs couldn’t even assist themselves. A health care provider, age 33, died of fever and so did the physician that was 81. A 3rd doctor, age 29, died of irritation. I simply wish to scream, throughout the years, cease bleeding folks and ANTIBIOTICS!!!! After all, antibiotics didn’t come into play till the 1900s, so medical doctors merely did the very best they may.

What Did I Be taught?

I by no means did discover what I used to be looking for, the situation the place James McKee or his sister who each died in 1855, have been buried.

Nevertheless, I found a HUGE trove of details about what was taking place in Washington County, VA, which might most likely be extrapolated for that area and maybe additional afield. Regardless, it offers you a sample to comply with on your ancestors the place they lived.

I’ve a significantly better appreciation for a way frightened moms and {couples} should have been for his or her younger youngsters. Concern should have clutched everybody’s coronary heart if somebody had intestinal points, or coughed. Jogs my memory of how we’ve all felt about Covid over the previous couple of years. Shut contact, similar to church and funerals, most likely unfold their illnesses the identical method Covid is unfold right now. Covid additionally gave us a significantly better, and unlucky, appreciation for mass and surprising deaths. So many households have misplaced a number of members.

The one testomony we frequently have right now about deaths throughout that timeframe is a “area” of three or 4 years between youngsters who truly made it to a census. The bigger the area, the extra youngsters that died. Most of them by no means had tombstones that survived, simply unhappy picket crosses nailed collectively. The mother and father, and grandparents, in the event that they have been dwelling, knew the place they have been buried. Nobody else would care, and a technology later, nobody knew they’d ever existed until an individual who was then outdated thought to say their sister or brother who had died a long time earlier than.

I additionally suspect that whereas nobody ever bought used to youngsters perishing, that at some stage, {couples} anticipated some youngsters to die. It was a part of the pure life cycle – as painful as that was. Even royalty who had the very best care out there on the time referred to “an inheritor and a spare.”

Faith performed a big half of their lives and these pioneers would have derived consolation from their spiritual beliefs and the pastor’s phrases on the funerals.

In lots of circumstances, the mom was both pregnant once more, or they have been busy doing chores that would not watch for grief to abate. Animals needed to be fed, milked, and slaughtered – or nobody else would eat both. Fields needed to be plowed, and cotton, flax, and wool needed to be spun. Grain needed to be floor. Meals needed to be cooked each day. Time to grieve was a luxurious nobody might afford.

Once I was younger, I bear in mind the older girls whose delivery most likely attain again into the early 1900s making seemingly insensitive feedback when a baby was stillborn, died, or a miscarriage occurred. “Simply strive once more” was what they mentioned. That’s most likely EXACTLY what had been mentioned to them beneath the identical circumstances. Now, I view that extra as a protection mechanism and “legacy recommendation,” most likely handed down for generations, than merely being hard-hearted.

Sadly, plainly nearly each household skilled a number of deaths of their youngsters, and many individuals married not less than twice, if not thrice. Not due to divorce, however attributable to loss of life. Now we all know their causes of loss of life.

Funerals have been most likely as frequent because the Sunday sermon. If 134 folks died in a yr (plus those that weren’t recorded,) that’s not less than 2.5 deaths per week. I do know there have been two Presbyterian Church buildings throughout this timeframe, plus most likely a Baptist and Methodist church. It might be secure to say that every preacher most likely carried out not less than one funeral every week.

Everybody knew learn how to construct a coffin. Actually, perhaps a number of have been constructed forward and saved in somebody’s barn – particularly child-sized, as unhappy as that was.

Years later, in Claiborne County, household historical past reveals that the neighborhood skilled what was reported as a smallpox outbreak. Many individuals died. Two of Ruthy Dodson Estes’s grownup daughters of their 40s died two days aside in April of 1888, plus each of 1 daughter’s youngsters. Ruthy’s husband had gone to Texas, completely, so her son, Lazarus Estes, constructed his sisters’ coffins, dug their graves, and buried them, identical to he had for his personal two daughters 4 years earlier.

There weren’t sufficient folks out there to construct coffins or dig graves locally. Nobody needed to deal with the useless our bodies, not solely due to contagion, however as a result of so many individuals have been sick themselves. As terrible as that point interval was, there’s little historical past remaining of that smallpox outbreak right now, and we wouldn’t have recognized about it in any respect had the story not been repeated by Lazarus to his son, who informed his son, Uncle George, who was born within the 19-teens, who repeated it to me within the Nineteen Eighties.

I ponder if the Fleenor and Widener households, each of whom skilled a devastating variety of deaths in Washington County, carry any oral historical past of that mass-death occasion? I believe that folks have been discouraged from dwelling on the “previous” and have been inspired to deal with the here-and-now. In any case, nothing could possibly be executed about that, and one actually did must get on with life.

Viewing loss of life information via the lens of native historical past is sort of enlightening too. The place would these folks have been buried? Was there a household cemetery on their land or did their spiritual denomination have a church graveyard?  Can you determine who attended what denomination of church? If that’s the case, what’s the related church historical past? The place did the household dwell? Dysentery was associated to contaminated water. Did the household have a spring with their very own headwater, or have been they sharing a water supply? Did they’ve a properly that bought contaminated?

After all, these solutions received’t be out there in loss of life information, however land and tax information could assist to resolve these questions and illuminate the knowledge forthcoming concerning the county and neighborhood the place your ancestors lived – and even whose funerals they attended. Simply discovering the title of the native preacher could assist, as a result of generally folks settled with their minister when he was referred to as to an space.

We frequently consider loss of life information as the tip of the road, however they’ve a lot extra to supply and may prepared the ground to the knowledge you want!


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