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Illnesses and Diseases

Have you happened to come across a relative in your family tree and listed as their cause of death is something you have never heard of? I was curious about many of the illnesses that were around in the 1800s that so easily often wiped out entire families. Many of these I had no idea what they were. You never really hear about them today because thankfully, we have vaccines for them and have made great medical advances. Here is a list of some illnesses and diseases that I have come across in my cemetery and burial research. If you have any others you think I should add, please let me know! 


Apoplexy- sudden impairment of neurological function, especially from a cerebral hemorrhage; a stroke 

Bright’s disease- any of several diseases of the kidney marked especially by edema and the presence of albumin in the urine. 

Cholera- an acute infectious disease of the small intestine, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, caused by ingestion of contaminated water or food and characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps, severe dehydration, and depletion of electrolytes 

Consumption-a progressive wasting away of the body especially from pulmonary tuberculosis

Croup- A pathological condition of the larynx, especially in infants and children, that is characterized by respiratory difficulty and a hoarse, brassy cough.

Diphtheria- An acute infectious disease caused by the bacillus Corynebacterium diphtheriae, characterized by the production of a systemic toxin and the formation of a false membrane on the lining of the mucous membrane of the throat and other respiratory passages, causing difficulty in breathing, high fever, and weakness. The toxin is particularly harmful to the tissues of the heart and central nervous system. 
- swelling from excessive accumulation of serous fluid in tissue, also known as edema  

Dysentery- An inflammatory disorder of the lower intestinal tract, usually caused by a bacterial, parasitic, or protozoan infection and resulting in pain, fever, and severe diarrhea, often accompanied by the passage of blood and mucus

Dyspepsia- disturbed digestion; indigestion.

Nephritis- an inflammation of the kidney, it is often caused by infections, toxins, and auto-immune diseases. 

Scarlet fever-an acute contagious disease caused by a hemolytic streptococcus, occurring predominantly among children and characterized by a scarlet skin eruption, high fever, by inflammation of the nose, throat, and mouth

Smallpox-a highly contagious disease causing fever and aches, left blind in the eyes, pockmarks on skin

Typhoid fever- an acute, highly infectious disease caused by a bacillus (Salmonella typhi) transmitted chiefly by contaminated food or water and characterized by high fever, headache, coughing, intestinal hemorrhaging, diarrhea, prostration, leucopenia, and rose-colored spots on the skin. Also called enteric fever