Gaining Wisdom from Family Ailments

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When researching your family history you will find many of your ancestors underwent ailments: some life ending, some life altering and some of little consequence. You can learn from all of your family health history.

Learning from Family Ailments

My g-grandfather was estranged from his father, Clarence Hiram, in Illinois when he was young. He most likely did not see him again until just prior to his death.

Clarence Hiram (my g-g-grandfather) spent time in Michigan and California after leaving Illinois. This is according to U.S. census records and his marriage records. (Clarence Hiram was married again after he divorced by g-g-grandmother and left my g-grandfather to be adopted).

However, the most useful nuggets of information were found in Clarence Hiram’s death record.

He (Clarence Hiram, my g-g-grandfather) died in 1914 in South Dakota. My g-grandfather, Harry C., his wife and children were the only Schofields living in South Dakota prior to 1914. And the informant on the death record was my g-grandfather, Harry C. This at least means my g-grandfather may have had some type of closure with his father. (NOTE: years later when looking at family names I realized that the first child my g-grandfather had after his father’s death was named Edward Hiram the same as his father’s middle name. Giving me another key to my g-grandfather’s forgiveness of his father’s past actions.)

Also on the death certificate the last known address of my g-g-grandfather, Clarence Hiram, was Oakland, California. This fit with the 1910 U.S. census entry that had him listed as living in Alameda, CA as a ‘lodger’. (I had to look at a map and Alameda is located near Oakland.)

And finally it stated his cause of death as ‘ataxic paraplegia’. I searched WebMD.com and found:

Cerebral palsy (CP) is classified according to the type of body movement and posture problem.

Ataxic cerebral palsy is the rarest type of cerebral palsy and involves the entire body. Abnormal body movements affect the trunk, hands, arms, and legs.

At some point after finding this as well as other new family history info, I mailed a package to my 1st cousin once removed to pay him back for all the genealogy info he had sent me.

It was a few years later that I received an e-mail or on-line post (I cannot remember which) from my cousin stating his daughter had been diagnosed with a rare disease but manageable. He had seen her symptoms and decided to look into family history, all his gathered family health history along with the genealogy info on Clarence Hiram (my g-g-grandfather and his g-grandfather). He took the info to his daughter’s doctors and it helped them narrow down her diagnosis.

So, as you can see family history health information is invaluable, even two generations later.

 

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