Longevity pedigree charts seem to be the in thing this week, so I decided to use RootsMagic to create mine. I started a new tree named, aptly enough, Longevity Pedigree Chart, and entered cause of death and age at death all in the first name field.
My Longevity Pedigree
I knew the causes of death of most of my ancestors, back to the 2x great grandparents. There are two for whom I have no death date, as I haven’t yet found their burial records in Slovakia. There are also several with cause of death in Slovak, for which I can’t find translations.
Both of my parents died of lung cancer, but at vastly different ages. My dad died young at 59, but my mother made it to 85 before it got her. They both smoked heavily their entire adult lives.
Both of my grandmothers died in their sleep in their 90s of heart failure. That would be my choice, so I hope I inherited those genes from both sides of the family!
There are several ancestors who died of causes that are not likely to cause death today. My great grandfather pulled a nose hair out one morning, fell ill with a strep infection and died the next afternoon. He was only 45 and died about 6 years before the discovery of penicillin.
One of my great grandmothers died of shock following an operation for gall stones, but that doesn’t really tell the story. My grandmother, her daughter, was there when it happened. The doctor, a very young man, operated on her in the family kitchen and she bled to death. It was my teenage grandmother’s job to mop up buckets of blood, an event she never, ever forgot.
My Slovak great grandfather lived in a very small village and died of appendicitis in the 1930s.
The most unusual death I would say was that of my maternal grandfather. He appeared to have multiple strokes and was hospitalized for quite some time. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was happening and why he was deteriorating so quickly. This was in 1968. After Grandfather died, Grandmother wanted an answer to all this. The autopsy showed he died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which was so unusual that it was only the third documented case in the 20th century and U.S. Navy doctors (Grandfather was a Navy vet) came to interview her about his symptoms and progression of the disease. CJD is a variation of what later came to be known as Mad Cow Disease.
I would say that my Longevity Pedigree Chart is a fairly typical representation of lives in the past. Some died of causes that are very treatable and non-life threatening today, some died of typical causes like heart disease and others lived a long life and pretty much seemed to have died of old age.
I have four ancestors, including my two grandmothers, who lived into their 90s. The ancestor who died the youngest was my great grandmother who bled to death on the kitchen table at age 43.
I don’t think I found any new information here, but it was very interesting to look at it in this format and it has spurred me on to look once again for the burial records of the two great great grandparents in Slovakia. All I know is they died after the 1869 census. Problem is the languages constantly changed, depending on which government was in control and when the alphabet switches to Cyrillic, I get lost.