Now, this weeks prompt should be enough to make some of our family sit up and take notice and take better care of themselves. There are many and varied reasons as to why someone dies and often it can be from tragic circumstances like an accident or in the case of my great-great-grandfather, John Snook, he was murdered and subsequently died from gunshot wounds.
I wrote about the murder of John Snook in my week 34 Blog on Family Legends.
As I’ve researched my families history, there was a time when I purchased death certificates to prove I had the correct person. The cause of death was of interest but only in passing. Way back then, a certificate was about $5 and has gradually increased over time. But, that price depended on which state of Australia that you were purchasing the certificate from, or in the case of overseas certificates, namely the United Kingdom, they were around £10 or $20-$30AUS. Also in those early days, one could order in a microfilm through the LDS, (Latter Day Saints) and view the parish film and take a photocopy of the entry. Sometimes there was more than one entry on a film. Now, these are being digitised on Family Search and for a subscription, some early records are on Ancestry or Find My Past! Yay! But, certificates still need to be purchased from the late 1800s for the UK and all years for Australia although each state now has indexes to make it a little easier to find your ancestor, but, there is a cut off year, different for each state. There’s a lot of but’s here! Another but is that the price for a heritage certificate is now $35 in Western Australia if the death occurred over 75 years ago. One I’ve ordered today is just over by 3 months!
In the US and UK, they have census records and one can usually determine when someone disappears within the ten-year time frame, that the person more than likely has died. Although, a catch with that is that they may have emigrated to the US, Canada or Australia. I had an interesting scenario recently when I contacted a relative in the UK of a fallen soldier who was on an honour board in WA. They had no idea that he’d even come out to Australia, let alone been killed in WWI! It was a very humbling experience to help them out.
In Australia, the Electoral Rolls or Post Office Directories can help us determine around about when a person has died or moved interstate.
Back to the story. Within my Family Legacy Tree software, I’m able to enter under the Medical Notes the cause of death and apply hashtags for a particular cause to then bring up a list of people in the database of what caused their death. The programme also has a chart that allows you to see this throughout one’s lineage. So, after a quick check of my death certificates and adding some hashtags, one of the most obvious things that came out on both sides of my family, the Cripps/Lymburner and Herbert/Caddy family, was Heart failure and Heart disease caused by Atherosclerosis!! Add to that several who died from cerebral haemorrhage and we have some really serious stuff going on inside of us!
In more recent times, it has been found that some close relatives have had various forms of cancer, from breast cancer to blood cancers, namely leukemia. However, as some of these are more recent deaths and not my immediate family, I would be imposing if I asked my relatives to allow me to enter their loved one’s cause of death. However, if they get to read this and feel inclined to give me that information or not, I will respect their wishes.
It was also an interesting fact that one of my grandsons recently pointed out when we were going around the local cemeteries, as to how young many of our relatives were, especially on my mother’s paternal side, the Herbert’s! 58 was a good age to pass!! Hopefully now with all the information that is more readily available to us and the research we can do ourselves, many of us have and will pass those years.