Search billions of records on


How did they Die??

Several of my ancestors died as a result of interesting (?) incidents, including:

Jolly Old England
  Sir William de Traci (lineal ancestor of Thomas Tracy, the immigrant to Connecticut) was one on the Knights who killed Thomas a Becket. (OK, OK.  So this isn't how Sir William died, but it is still interesting, right?)
  Sir John Rix, Earl of Offord, was beheaded about 1536 by order of Henry VIII, for befriending Anne Boleyn.
  George Horsey died in Newgate Debtor's Prison, London, in 1644.
and France...
  Rolfe de Kuype was killed in battle fighting with the Duke of Anjou in 1569.

Bad Accidents!
  John Scarborough was "slaine by charging a great gunne" at Roxbury, Mass., in 1646.
  Thomas Brownell was killed by riding his horse into a tree!  He was killed in an accident the afternoon of Sept 24, 1664.  He had stopped at the home of Daniel Lawton's father and, upon leaving, invited Daniel (age 21) to ride home with him to Portsmouth. The ride became a race, and soon Lawton passed Brownell.  Lawton looked back to see Brownell riderless horse and returned to find Brownell lying beneath a tree.  Seeing a great amount of blood on the ground, Lawton realized that Thomas Brownell was dead.
  John Watson, Jr., was killed at Hartford, Conn., in 1724 when a cart loaded with rails, on which he was riding, was upset and overturned .
  In 1779, Jedediah Tracy died by being thrown from a horse as he was riding to mill in Preston, Conn.
  Daniel Stanbury died in 1795 "from wounds received by being jammed on shafts of a cart" in New York City.  (Ouch!)
  Thomas Husbands was killed in a London brewery accident.  He was employed as a "brewer's servant" and died from an accidental fall from a cart at the brewery on 13 May 1859.

Nasty Diseases
  John Denison died of the plague in 1582 in Bishop's Stortford, England.
  Stephen and Margaret (Cooke) Williams each died of the plague in 1625 in Great Yarmouth, England.
  After attending others during the Plymouth Colony epidemic of 1633, Dr. Samuel Fuller died of the diesase.
  John Seymour had "a cancer in his jaws and face" at the time of his death in 1758 at New Hartford, Conn.
  Abel and Thankful (Moss) Doolittle each died of smallpox in 1764 in Watertown, Conn.
  William Steele died of smallpox in 1777  in New Hartford, Conn..  He was buried in an unmarked grave.
  Thomas Tracy contracted smallpox in the Revolution and came home to Lenox, Mass., to die in 1777.

Killed by Indians
  Captain John Luther died at the hands of the Indians at Delaware Bay... in Swedish America [now the state of Delaware]  in 1644.
  In March, 1676, during King Philip's War, Capt. Michael Pierce and a group of Englishmen and Indians pursued the hostile Indians into Rhode Island. At Pawtucket, their party were attacked and most of their party, including Capt. Pierce, were killed.
  John Sprague was also killed in the Pawtucket Fight in King Philip's War in 1676.
  John Smith was killed by Indians at Hatfield, Mass., in King Philip's War in 1676.
  Ezra Rolfe was captured and killed by Indians in 1689 in Haverhill, Mass.  "The savages again made their appearance on the 17th of the following October, when they wounded and made prisoner of Ezra Rolfe, who died three days after being taken."

Bad Swimmers
  Zachariah Rhodes drowned in the waters off of Pawtucket, RI, in 1665.
  Dirck Franszen Van Dyke drowned on the Jersey shore somewhere opposite lower Manhattan in 1691.
  John Price died by drowning in Glastonbury, Conn., in 1737.
  In 1779, John Gibson, of Irvine, Scotland, died by drowning in Dublin Bay .

They Just Didn't Get Up
  In 1694, Capt. George Denison died during the session of the General Court at Hartford, which he was attending.
  William Trowbridge died at sea, probably on a voyage to the West Indies in 1704.
  Joseph Newhall died in a snowstorm while returning on a trip from Boston to Lynn, Mass., in 1706.
  In Swansea, Mass., Deacon Melatiah Martin went to the well for a pail of water and was found lying dead by the well-curb in 1761.
  In 1826, Jonathan Winslow died suddenly while seated at his breakfast table in Charlton, Mass.
  Alvah and Sally (Benedict) West each died at the Mormon camp during the winter of 1846-47 on the Mormon trek from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Utah.
  Bishop Chauncey Walker West died while on a trip to San Francisco to negotiate payment of funds for the Mormon laborers who constructed the Central Pacific Railroad line.  Bishop West had been awarded the contract to complete a 200-mile section of track from the Humbolt River, east across Nevada to Promentory Point, Utah.  California Governor Leland Stanford, one of the backers of the Central Pacific, had guaranteed payments to the Mormon crew if their work was completed on time for the Golden Spike ceremony at promentory, on 10 May 1869.  When the work was completed and payment was not made, Bishop West made several trips to California to extract payment from Gov. Stanford.  An exhausted Chauncey West collapsed on his last trip and died on 9 January 1870.  He was only 43 years old.  Two months later, the railroad company finally made payment to the Mormons.

  Heber West was murdered in barroom brawl.  He was shot to death at the "notorious dive, den and saloon, 555" in a fight in Pocatello, Idaho, in 1890.  Pocatello at the time was a rough-and-tumble frontier town.  The newspaper account of Heber's murder reads as follows:  "Last night while a dance was in progress at a saloon and dance house here, H. W. West, machinist employed in the Union Pacific shops, was shot and instantly killed by Deputy U.S. Marshall Chas. Phelps.  It seems West was becoming noisy and was ordered off the floor by Phelps, this led to hot words and Phelps was knocked down by West.  While on the floor, Phelps drew a revolver and shot West through the heart.  The murderer made his escape but was captured by Sheriff Woodin at Eagle Rock, Idaho, at eleven o'clock this morning."  Charles Phelps was subsequently arrested, tried, and sentenced to four years in the Idaho penitentiary.

And finally... some post-mortem silliness!
  Joseph and Elizabeth Keeler were buried in Ridgebury Cemetery, Ridgefield, Conn., in 1757 and 1763, respectively.  His tombstone was later used in trapping woodchucks and was broken into pieces.

Return to my Main Page
This site was originally created on May 5, 1999.
Last updated June 18, 2006.
Copyright © 1999-2006 Edward E. Steele, All rights reserved