The Washerwoman’s Genes

June 15, 2006

Pathos of Infant Death Records

Filed under: Washboard — by WWG @ 11:32 am

Reading the scant Ulster County death and marriage records from 1847 through 1850 was useful, although I found no references to any definite relatives. The records are available in a typed transcription.

The death records contain the date, name of the deceased, age, occupation, and cause of death. On nearly every page were references to infants who either died unnamed or whose names were not recorded. Likewise, there were several instances of children whose last name, incredibly, was not put in the records. The transcriber either writes “no name, ” “infant” or puts in a dash in place of a name, and other omitted information is likewise indicated with a series of dashes.

Esopus
1847
August 25 “no name” 1 day — — —
December – “no name” 24 days —— inflammation of lungs
December 23 “no name” 4 days — — — malformation of cardus

1849
June 19 “infant” 1 day —- —–

In Hurley, the records contain this notation:

1849
August 19 Twins — —- stillbirth

And in Marbletown, the clerk seems to have skipped surnames:

July 31 Mary 2 . . . whooping cough
Aug 14 Warren 4 . . . . drowned
November 24 Sally Jane 5 . . . Croup
October – Lorenze 3 . . . .Dysintery [sic]

It seems that it was quite possible for a family to have a child which is unnamed at its death a few days or weeks later, or even for a child of some years to die without its full identity being recorded. It seems likely that many of these poor short-lived babes are truly “non-persons,” having had no name, or none of record, having lived the briefest of lives, and possibly having an unmarked grave for a final resting place. Even in the case of older children, it seems possible that their lives were sometimes only barely recorded.

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