Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sickness and Suffering

To some this may be morbid but I have a growing collection of death certificates, as do most genealogists. Death certificates provide important information. Initially, I focused on birth dates, death dates, parents’ names and parents’ birthplace. This critical information allowed me to grow my family trees.

Knowing that all documents lie, it is important to remember that death certificates can give false information. A family member or close associate usually supplies information about the decedent. I remember giving incorrect information for my mother’s death certificate.

A great debate occurred around the location of her birth. I thought she was born in Chicago and my mother’s cousin was certain she was born in Arlington Heights. I yielded to Mom’s cousin because she knew my mother as a child. As a result, Mom’s death certificate reports her birth as Arlington Heights. The truth is she was born in Chicago but lived in Arlington Heights as an infant. I am living proof that even a daughter didn’t know everything about her mother and I should have.

With that said, there is a piece of information that I have ignored and that is the cause of death. The cause of death can be important to future generations who have significant health problems. I have a brother and nephew with chronic kidney disease. Did we have ancestors with kidney disease?

My death certificates show a wide variety of cause of death. Here are a few of the medical causes of death in my family trees: 

Dropsy, La Grippe, Acute Coronary Insufficiency, Fracture Cervical Vertebrae, Acute Decompressed Heart, Cerebral Hemorrhage, Carcinoma of the Bladder, Myocarditis, Influenza, Senility, Cerebral Apoplexy, Carcinoma of the Stomach, Uremia Septicemia, Infantile Marasmus, Acute Coronary Thrombosis, Carcinoma of the Prostate and Bladder, Chronic Nephritis, Cirrhosis of Liver, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Shock and Hemorrhage due top accidental gun shot wound of the body, Chronic Brights, Diphtheria, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Pneumonia.

That is a lot of sickness and suffering. It is kind of sick (no pun intended) but I find the causes of death very, very interesting. I came across a website dedicated to archaic medical terms that clarified exactly what my ancestors suffered from. If you are interested you can view the website at:

Not that it solves anyone’s health problem, but I believe I may have found ancestors who suffered from kidney disease as my brother and nephew do. My mother’s Paternal Grandmother and Great-Grandmother (mother & daughter) seem to have died from kidney disease or the effects of kidney problems.  Mom’s Paternal Grandmother died following childbirth due to Uremia Septicemia. You won’t find Kidney Disease in the above list as it was previously called Brights Disease and Uremia Septicemia.

No comments:

Post a Comment