March 20, 2009

Death in 1926 Bexar County, Texas: An Un-Scientific Poll

The other day I was poking around in the Texas Death Certificates, and sort of got sucked into a straw poll of causes of death.

I had randomly browsed to Bexar County in 1926 and from there down to an individual record. Once I was at a record I used the filmstrip to randomly select images and see the kinds of things that were included. It wasn't long before I noticed some interesting things and some simple trends in the cause of death field.

My random sample painted a pretty clear picture of the progress that has been made in medicine since 1926. Some of the more common causes of death have been so effectively treated in the US that I didn't even recognize them. For example, Pellagra, which showed up frequently in my straw poll, is a disease related to a vitamin deficiency which was at epidemic levels in the South in 1926, but doesn't get much press today.

The most common causes of death I saw in Bexar County in 1926 were:
  • Various types of Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Premature birth
  • Colitis
  • Kidney problems
I was surprised to find several people in my small sample who were killed by trains and even a few who were killed in automobile accidents.

The oldest person I came across? Justa Baron who died of "Unknown Natural Causes" at the age of 108.

Justa Baron dies of "Unknown Natural Causes" at the age of 108

March 18, 2009

FrankOlynyk has been working with the Missing Air Crew Reports and sending us some great corrections.

One of the reports he contacted us about was for a B-25 that went down in the Mediterranean on 10 Aug 1943.

The report includes a couple of eye witness accounts of the crash including one from Sergeant Alan J. MacDougall, who was flying in another plane in the formation, and described it this way:
"About fifteen minutes out over the Mediterranean, the ship ... went into a steep bank apparently starting back, he was banked well over 60° and very low. His left wing tip dipped into water and he went in very quickly. As the ship's nose hit, something flew from the ship. I thought it was the tail. Shortly after the ship disappeared, water boiled over the spot he went down. Nothing was seen to float to the surface."

"Water Boiled Over the Spot He Went Down"

Initially the entire crew was listed as "Killed in Action," but later it was discovered that Sergeant Ellsworth E Meinke, the Radio Waist Gunner, "survived but was seriously wounded."

Sergeant MacDougall gives a dramatic account of the accident, but I would love to hear the story from Sergeant Meinke's perspective.

I did a search of Footnote for Ellsworth E Meinke and found this Footnote Page for him that was created from his WWII Army Enlistment Record. It includes information about him at the time he enlisted. We have another Footnote Page for an Ellsworth Meinke with the same birth year that was created from the Social Security Index. If this is the same guy, he died in 1962.