Causes of Death

I have compiled the causes for death for those interred in Pond Springs and Walden Cemeteries, from the archived years 1903 through 1965.  I’ve found 99 total death certificates.  I think it’s interesting (albeit morbid !).  This post might not be for the faint-of-heart.  In descending order; please bear with my ramblings and add what you please  –

1.  Respiratory (29.29%)

Respiratory # %
Pneumonia 11 11.11
Tuberculosis 7 7.07
Influenza, Spanish 5 5.05
Diphtheria 4 4.04
Asthma 1 1.01
Hemorrhage 1 1.01
Total 29.29

Williamson County experienced a Diphtheria epidemic around 1920, and it must have been brutal.  In Pond Springs Cemetery alone, four toddlers died due to Diphtheria.  TB is generally considered an institutional disease, spread amongst those who are shut in closely together, which makes me wonder about the conditions in the county.  Did the Railroad play a part?  The Spanish Flu came to town as well and did its share of damage.  And it seemed to last longer than in most places – all the way up to 1923 at least.  Pneumonia is opportunistic; it takes advantage of already-compromised patients who are too weak to (for example) roll over, an act which helps prohibit pneumonia to “settle” in the lungs.  Perhaps a clue to how families took care of their sick, or of how the sick took care of themselves.  They just didn’t know.

2.  Cardiovascular

Cardiovascular # Percent
Coronary Occlusion 4 4.04
Heart Disease 4 4.04
Cerebral Hemorrhage 3 3.03
Cardiac/Heart Failure 3 3.03
Myocarditis 3 3.03
Acute Dilatation of Heart 1 1.01
Paralysis 1 1.01
Cardiac Decompensation 1 1.01
Myocardial Infarction 1 1.01
Heart Trouble 1 1.01
Total 22.22

Coronary Occlusion is also called “the widow-maker”.  Simply put, when plaque lines the arteries, and falls, blocking the artery, it causes a Coronary Occlusion.  Makes me wonder about their diet.  For example, all of my ancestors are from upper East Tennessee (at least until until the mid 1700s), and they ate the entire pig !  And EVERYTHING was preserved in salt.  I wonder if it was the same here.  Of course, it was generally the same old country doctors making the same old diagnosis, and even though the cause of death could have really been some other cardio reason (such as infarct) and not occlusion, occlusion had the distinction of the patient being “dead before they hit the floor”.  Pretty good diagnostic tool.

Coronary is followed closely of course with the various words for stroke.

3.  Miscellaneous (21.21%)

Miscellaneous # %
Senility/Old Age 6 6.06
Cholera 4 4.04
Pellagra 2 2.02
Diabetes 1 1.01
Meningitis 1 1.01
Septicemia of unknown origin 1 1.01
Scarlet Fever 1 1.01
General Debility 1 1.01
Homicide 1 1.01
Exhaustion from Psychosis 1 1.01
MeaslesBrain Tumor Operation 11 1.011.01
Total 21.21

Cholera and Typhoid are prevented by boiling, and hand washing prevents even more diseases from spreading; apparently the germ theory hadn’t reached the county.  Pellagra, a systemic nutritional wasting disease, is caused by a prolonged deficiency of protein in the diet, which leads to all sorts of skin, digestive, nervous problems, and even to mental deterioration.

4.  Childbirth & Related (9.09%)

Childbirth # %
Premature Birth 5 5.05
Childbirth 1 1.01
Preeclampsia 1 1.01
Abortion, septicemia 1 1.01
Hypoxia “blue baby” 1 1.01
Total 9.09

5.  Tied at 5.05%:  Gastrointestinal & Cancer

Gastrointestinal # %
Dysentery 2 2.02
Ruptured Appendix 1 1.01
Bowel Trouble 1 1.01
Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage 1 1.01
Total 5.05
Cancer # %
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 2 2.02
Prostate 1 1.01
Stomach 1 1.01
Not stated 1 1.01
Total 5.05

The Leukemia is surprising.  Two percent of such a small sampling is a significant amount of leukemia, in my opinion.  As many in these two cemeteries were related, I wonder about a possible genetic link.  Or environmental.

6. Tied at 4.04%:  Kidney-Related Ailments & Accidents

Kidney-Related # %
Uremic Coma 2 2.02
Acute Nephritis 1 1.01
Operation to remove kidney 1 1.01
Total 4.04
Accidents # %
Car Accident 2 2.02
Shock, traumatic, fracture of pelvis, trauma of abdomen 1 1.01
Shock, traumatic, struck by truck 1 1.01
Total 4.04
– Suzanne
Pneumonia 6 7.41
Influenza, Spanish 5 6.17
Asthma 1 1.23
Tuberculosis 5 6.17
Diphtheria 4 4.94
Total 25.93
Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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