Let’s be honest. The older death records, whether civil or church, do not always include the cause of death. And even when they do, they might be in an unfamiliar language or a term that isn’t common today. How do we puzzle this out? Here are some resources to help.
There are a number of sites that provide death terms, common illnesses and health concerns. Check these out.
German Illness/ Death Terms and Translations – ManyRoads (many-roads.com)
The Most Common Ways To Die In 1800s America (grunge.com)
Common Diseases of the 18th and 19th Century | American Battlefield Trust (battlefields.org)
Diseases and epidemics of the 19th century - Wikipedia
Ailments, Complaints, and Diseases in the 1700 and 1800s - Geri Walton
And something that isn’t mentioned is the root cause of diseases that were the result of poverty with poor living conditions, lack of access to clean water and lack of healthy food. This article about Europe brings some context to the times our ancestors were living in. History of Europe - Health and sickness | Britannica You can find additional information about related topics in this article.
I’ve mentioned using the German Familienbuchs. Surprisingly, they sometimes include the cause of death. Collateral relatives died of smallpox, fever, and drowning. The drowning was noted where the individual was found in a river between two towns. That is not something you can normally find. In looking at this individual’s immediate family, his pregnant wife gave birth sixteen days later. She was a widow now with eight children to care for by herself. This tragic event brings their story to life.
With so many resources available online, if you find an unfamiliar death cause, take some time to find the meaning. Good luck exploring!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.