Sunday, July 26, 2015

Medical Monday - Annie Bronsevitch

I suppose this post could have gone under a Wednesday's Child post, but as I've been reviewing death certificates I have posts I want to write that involve more than just children. Since many people care about the medical aspect in genealogy (is there insanity in my family? Alzheimer's? Breast cancer? Any cancer?) I decided to start a "Medical Monday" series. I'm not a medical professional, but most genealogists aren't. There is a lot of great information that can be found online when you can actually make out what the cause of death is. Often times it's illegible and the terms are dated or confusing. Doing a little research may answer some of these questions.

I was going through the Pennsylvania Death Records online (you've probably noticed a trend in many of my posts by now) and I was looking for records for my Bronsavage/Bronsevitch line. It was more painful than I expected. With a surname search for "Bronsavage" I got hits for my grandmother, Florence, my great uncle's wife, Helen, and my 1st cousin once removed, Nancy May, who died when she was about five. There was one other hit for someone I had never heard of...Julia Dagis...her mother was also Julia and her maiden name was Bronsavage. Could be a relative, but I have no connection yet. What I was looking for was my great grandparents, Anthony and Cecelia Bronsevitch (I should probably mention that Bronsavage is a variant), but didn't find them. Boy is that another post because sometimes these unusual names don't produce the easiest results.

Birth information
Anyway, I changed my search parameters, did some tweaking here and there with what information I included and what I omitted and I came across the record for an Annie Bronsevitch.

When I looked at the certificate I saw that she was definitely a Bronsevitch/Bronsavage of mine. Of course as far as I know almost any from Hazleton/West Hazleton should belong to me. Seeing her parents (my great grandparents) confirmed it. She was the daughter of Anthony and Cecelia Bronsevitch nee Kozlowski and she lived to be 7 months old.

Seeing stuff like this always makes me sad. To experience the loss of a child is not something any parent should have to experience, but we all know it happens and it is heart-breaking. My mind immediately turned to why she died.

Cause of death
When my mother and I saw the cause of death as "auto-infection or (self poisoning)" we were confused. Did the baby get into something that she shouldn't have? No doubt baby-proofing homes wasn't at the standard of today. Sometimes I'm amazed we all survived our childhoods. As I sometimes do I fixated on the "auto-infection" and stopped reading. I need to retrain my brain to quit doing this. Still, when I researched auto-infection I was rewarded with some good information:

-An infection by disease organisms already present in the body but developing in a different body part.
-A reinfection by microbes or parasitic organisms."

That made me feel better than the child having ingested poison. As is par for the course it was then that I continued analyzing the rest of the diagnosis and saw the mention of cholera. Even though I had a definition of auto-infection that seemed satisfactory I adjusted my search and focused on cholera infantum:

"Cholera infantum
A nonspecific term meaning either:
-Summer complaint - An obsolete term for severe, prostrating gastroenteritis in infants occurring in hot weather and caused by unknown pathogens, possibly Shigella and Salmonells spp; or
-Infantile gastroenteritis."

That ties in well with the contributory causes of "Season, climate, food." I suppose this wasn't completely unheard of in the early 20th century and it's certainly something we take for granted today although it is still cause for concern in countries where sanitation is primitive.

So with this post and what was initially a surprising cause of death I remember Annie. She is buried in Ss. Peter and Paul's Lithuanian Catholic Cemetery in Hazleton, Pennsylvania along with her mother, father, and a brother.

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