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April 23, 2013

An 1864 Death Announcement Leads to More Questions Than Answers

A cousin recently sent me a death announcement from 1864 for one of our Vollick family branches. I'd actually already seen it but had forgotten so it was a nice reminder and a push to motivate to figure out which Isaac Vollick had died. There are several candidates in my genealogy database but I was able to easily determine which Isaac fit since I had one living in Nelson Township on Conc. 5, Lot 1 and dying on April 30, 1864.

Here is the announcement:

Hamilton Evening Times article on Isaac Vollick on p 3 on Saturday, May 7, 1864 copied by the paper from the "Champion": SUDDEN DEATH. We learn that a man by the name of Isaac Vallick, residing on the 5th line Nelson, died suddenly in a fit on Saturday last. Mr. Vallick it appears, has been slightly subject to fits for a length of time, and more especially if he was in trouble. This fit, which proved fatal, was supposed to be induced in consequence of his having but the day previous been deprived of a daughter by that stern and relentless messenger - Death. He leaves a family to mourn his demise. Milton Champion

The man who died of a "fit" (no doubt epileptic seizure) was the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather Richard Vollick. Several of Isaac's daughters suffered from epilepsy which would not have been well-controlled in that time period.

I've not yet been able to determine which daughter died the day before Isaac died. Since Ontario Death Registrations did not begin until 1869 my task will be challenging! I know of four daughters and have deaths for three of them. It would be easy to assign that fourth daughter as the one dying in 1864 but there may be other daughters who I have not found. So this is a good example of not beging too quick to jump to conclusions.

This announcement also got me thinking about the illnesses and disorders that affected our ancestors. Genetic health is an interesting offshoot of being a genealogy researcher. For instance I've found many occurrences in official records of epilepsy in my Vollick family branches, and it affects some of my living relatives.

My husband's male ancestors mostly suffer heart-related problems and deaths. So a project I want to begin is one where I will list our ancestors (direct and collateral) and their causes of death. By putting them on a spreadsheet I can sort by disorders/diseases and see what is most prevalent. Of course this will not be 100% scientifically accurate as many health issues were not recognized or were labelled incorrectly. But I think it will prove interesting. 

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