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ginny74
05-20-2007, 06:51 PM
This is quite a peculiar question, but how would a middle aged man perish during the years before the war? Additionally, was there any cases of suicide during the years before the Civil War?

hanktrent
05-20-2007, 07:45 PM
Not so peculiar, I'd say. Unless you're portraying a historical person where the answers are already known, everyone portraying a typical/fictional person may want to figure out how their parents/grandparents/siblings died.

Some typical possibilities:

Consumption, pneumonia, apoplexy, dropsy or heart disease, cancer (usually diagnosed from a visible tumor), Bright's disease, liver disease, cholera or yellow fever during epidemics, lockjaw, various fevers, typhus, diabetes, dysentery, syphilis, injuries or accidents (thrown from a horse, caught in mill machinery, drowned, or whatever would fit his typical activities),


Additionally, was there any cases of suicide during the years before the Civil War?

Yes, of course. Drowning, shooting, hanging, poisoning, drug overdose.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Spinster
05-21-2007, 01:36 AM
Additionally, was there any cases of suicide during the years before the Civil War?

Most definitely--folks have been doing themselves in for as long as they've had the idea that life wasn't worth living. Depression and other forms of mental illness were not invented by modern medicine.

Darling Daughter's archival work this spring included transcribing a large body of 18th and 19th century letters and diaries for one family. She was forewarned that the particular young man's diary she was working on was that of a known suicide just prior to the war, still the last entries were especially difficult for her, and she had to space them out.

Sad then---Sad now.

ElizabethClark
05-21-2007, 10:26 AM
Hank and the others have covered it very well. I'd add septicemia from wounds gone bad, problems with ruptured appendix or obstructed bowels, murder, train accidents (though that would be covered under Hank's accidents and injuries). One way to formulate a regionally-specific cause of death is to local local/regional death notices in the newspapers of the time (often on microfilm or fiche), and see what you find.

Pete K
05-21-2007, 12:21 PM
Being just a bit too slow in moving away from a jealous husband and his Colt revolver?

NoahBriggs
05-23-2007, 08:29 PM
If you look on this site (http://www.paul_smith.doctors.org.uk/ArchaicMedicalTerms.htm) under "Epidemics" you will see the steady march of local doom, starting with the Plague in 1350. The epidemics are listed by year, region, and the afflicition.

There are accidents including but not limited to

Trains - collisions, boilers exploding, falling off trains. Getting your hands caught between the couplings.

Ships - falling overboard, falling from the rigging, burns, infected fractures, scurvy, exploding boilers.

Horses - ever get kicked? Hurts, dude. Ever have a horse come crashing down on top of you? See answer 1. I don't remember where I read it, but in some towns if you rode above a trot in town limits, you could be busted for speeding.

Wagons - some had brakes, some didn't. Some were well made, some weren't. If you don't know what you are doing, you'll get hurt. Wagons and coaches overturned, sometimes the drivers were drunk.

Farms - mangled in machinery. Axes cut off toes/fingers. Falls off of roofs. See "horses" if you run out of ideas.

Industry. let's have fun as the grim reaper. The usual limbs caught in machinery, burns, some mills may explode from the dust they create, like in grist mills. Iron works? Read the NPS book on Hopewell National Historic Site for grisly ideas.

celtfiddler
05-24-2007, 03:54 AM
One way to formulate a regionally-specific cause of death is to local local/regional death notices in the newspapers of the time (often on microfilm or fiche), and see what you find.

Another thought is to take a look at your own family history. I know of ancestors who died in wagon accidents, drownings, etc.

tompritchett
05-24-2007, 08:07 AM
Another thought is to take a look at your own family history. I know of ancestors who died in wagon accidents, drownings, etc.

One of the sisters of my wife's mother was killed as a child when a rooster pecked her in the head and she developed an infection in the brain.

Micah Trent
05-24-2007, 10:23 AM
I had relatives that perished from Scarlet Fever, one from years of depression, and another from mining in PA.:( The mine collapsed.

redleggeddevil
05-24-2007, 11:01 AM
One of the interesting things I discovered in my own family history is the number of people who just "up and died". Both my grandmother and great grandmother just died-- no obvious disease, no evident symptoms, no particular cause noticed or noted.

This news, of course, is not particularly comforting to me, as I am now middle-aged and in (apparently) good health...

NoahBriggs
05-28-2007, 06:21 PM
Here is a link to the Augusta County Vindicator:

http://tinyurl.com/yrmcy3

It's indexed by "Daily Life". There is a section listing "accidents."

mmescher
05-30-2007, 05:22 PM
Another source to check is the census records. For 1860, there is a summary volume _Mortality and Miscellaneous Statistics_ that contains numerous breakdowns of how people died. There is a separate discussion of suicide on page 253. There may be similar volumes for other censuses but I haven't checked those.

Also, in the discussion of causes of death, you need to learn a bit about period medical terms. For example, many are already familiar with the term consumption for tuberculosis. One that surprised me was "mortification." Instead of meaning that the person was embarrased to death, from what I can determine, mortification was a period term for gangrene.

A quick look at the statistics also show a surprisingly few number of cancers. Maybe, though, the cancer contributed to other symptoms which were the active cause of death.

Michael Mescher

hanktrent
05-31-2007, 11:44 AM
One that surprised me was "mortification." Instead of meaning that the person was embarrased to death...

:D


A quick look at the statistics also show a surprisingly few number of cancers. Maybe, though, the cancer contributed to other symptoms which were the active cause of death.

I think you're right, and also, without X-rays, tumors not near the surface weren't as readily identifiable unless an autopsy was done.

Even in modern life, Linda's father's death certificate states he died of septic shock, which was caused by pneumonia, which was caused by malignant melanoma. So although he clearly "died of cancer," he might have showed up in a period mortality statistic under dropsy or pneumonia.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

vamick
05-31-2007, 01:48 PM
My ggfather on my father's side made it thru the war...then returned home to Floyd co Va, where he was killed during an auction interviening between a friend and the auctioneer...and the auctioneer's pistol!

NoahBriggs
05-31-2007, 01:51 PM
Then there is toughness. Had an ancestor who was incarcerated in Andersonville until the place was shut down for good. Somehow when he got home he and his wife were able to crank out six kids.

sbl
05-31-2007, 03:39 PM
I was exploring the cemetery in Rockport, MA. On family monument had one son died at Andersonville, one off Georges Bank during a storm and a daughter of illness all during the early 1860s. See the listing from Gloucester, Ma of men who died at sea http://www.ecnnews.com/storm/lost1.htm just during the Civil War years.

See this source..

http://www.gloucestertimes.com/puopinion/local_story_135093922?keyword=secondarystory

"..A killer gale on Sept. 19, 1846, claimed the lives of 65 Marblehead men, leaving behind 46 widows and 155 orphans. Another violent storm, this one on Georges Bank on Feb. 24, 1862, killed 125 Gloucester men. Before it was over, that community would add 70 new widows and 140 new orphans to its already lengthy list..."