Monday, September 7, 2009

Illnesses in 1865

The Cayuga County Historian’s office has been a tremendous resource through the years. Most recently, County Historian Sheila Tucker was able to share with me some copies of old vital records she found for Scipio. Today I was looking over some death records. Some diseases have names I am not familiar with, so I looked them up online.
An 85 year old widow and a native of Connecticut, Rachel Remington died on April 21st of 1865 in Scipio of apoplexy. Usually, this referred to a sudden heart attack or stroke.
Milk fever, the cause of death for 26-year old wife Cynthia Lockwood of Cayuga on 2/6/1865, is sometimes called puerperal fever and is the result of infection. Before antibiotics were available, and when the notion of keeping surgical instruments and areas clean to prevent germs was still pretty new, women were frequently susceptible to this painful disease developed post-partum, and often did not recover.
Poor George Flynn; he was only a year and 7 months old when he died on 5/10/1865 of scarlet fever. This was a highly infectious disease and got its name from the scarlet rash developed by the infected person.
If you have wondered about a disease or cause of death on an old certificate, you may find it listed at this website: or google the term “old illnesses.” Many of these diseases are still around today but we know them by another name.

No comments: