Friday, January 28, 2011

Cause of Death

Anyone who spends very much time looking at the past will very quickly notice just how many children and young adults died, especially in the 1800s. Looking at names and dates, it's easy to wonder from what disease or sickness did a person die. Especially here in the south, Yellow Fever killed many children and adults and pretty much wiped out the entire city of Memphis, several times.

Trying to find the cause of death of an ancestor, I recently ran across some documents online that were interesting in that they provide random facts, figures, dates, and details of potential ancestors but also show how ancestry research was approached in the past.

"Ansearchin'" News" is the official publication of The Tennessee Genealogy Society. The very first issue online is from 1954 and includes topics like "The Natchez Expedition, 1813,""The Battle of New Orleans" and "Church Minute Book from Methodist Espiscopal Churches South." As you scan the issues through the years, you see how the members of the '50s, '60s, and '70s were as passionate about genealogy research as those of us today but they didn't have the benefit of and the internet. They shared books, listened to lectures and traveled to libraries in the communities the were researching.

Jumping back to the original topic, the January 1973 issue of "Ansearchin News" included on page 18 the Mortality Schedule for 1850 for Haywood County, TN. Simple things like teething, sore throat and croup often led to the death of babies and teenagers alike. Young adults died of Dysentary, Pluresy, Cholera or Fever. Of all the 54 deaths listed, only one was from an accident (drowning). The rest were from illnesses that today are very much treatable or have been eliminated.

Scanning through the list, the only name from my line I came across was Joseph Castellaw who died of croup at four years old in August 1850. While I can't figure out exactly who he was, it's not likely he was a son of my ancestor Thomas Jefferson Castellaw because young Joseph was born in 1846 and "Tom" Castellaw had a son he named Joseph in 1836. He most likely would not have named another son the same name just ten years later.

I guess the identity of 4-year-old Joseph Castellaw will remain a mystery for now. But tomorrow I am headed to Haywood County to explore a few cemeteries and visit the library they have there in Brownsville, TN.

I have a whole list of mysteries to work on so hopefully, I'll get a few of them solved.

1 comment:

  1. do you know anything about the smothers family