Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Ancestors Died From What?

I've been working on adding death records to the Percival lines in Massachusetts. It's amazing the diseases in common within the descendants. I've actually seen a couple specifically designated as cancer of the uterus or breast cancer, and my heart goes out to those women and what they must have suffered. Then there is the Percival wife, who delivered a stillborn son only two die two days later of cerebral apoplexy (stroke) at the age of 39. One would think over the span of 160 plus years that some of these diseases would be eradicated.

I came across a newspaper article recently of two boys, sons of Thomas Percival, who drowned when the ice they were on broke and they fell through. In fact, the number of drownings suffered by this Percival line is alarming, even given that their occupations were seaman, mariner, ship captain. In the scheme of things, it isn't so important what disease these people died from, but it sure makes some interesting reading.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. In my Keyes line, heart disease is prevalent --at a young age, particularly mitral valve disease. Unfortunately, this genetic predisposition still is seen in later and current generations. Generally only "us'ns" who peer around in old death certificates are aware of these things. Hmmm, is that a good thing or not?

  2. Something that was both interesting and heartbreaking was going through Texas death records right before and then during the Great Influenza Epidemic; at first various causes of death are listed, and then almost every cause of death lists influenza or "complicated by influenza." I know we must sound morbid to other people, but death actually does turn out to be a fascinating subject.