Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday's Child ~ Remembering Asbury

Asbury Bateman Webster Tombstone
Photo by Crystal Vannest Danko

Asbury Bateman Webster was born on October 20, 1840 in Racine, Meigs, Ohio.  He was the son of my maternal 3rd Great-Grandparents, Moses Augustine Webster and Amanda Melvina Carlisle.  Asbury was the second of eight children born to Moses and Amanda.  He passed away on December 2, 1849 at only nine years of age.  According to the United States Census (Mortality Schedule) for 1850, Asbury's cause of death was "Inflammation of the Lungs" with the duration of the illness being 60 days.1

Asbury Bateman Webster in the US Census, Mortality Schedule, 1850 for Ohio, Meigs County Cropped

I wondered what "Inflammation of the Lungs" meant in today's medical terminology.  I also wondered if this term meant Asbury could have had Asthma.  My understanding is that the tendency to have Asthma can run in families.  Asbury's older brother, Ebenezer (my 2nd Great-Grandfather), suffered from Asthma.  How did I find out my 2nd Great-Grandfather had Asthma?  It was documented in his Civil War Pension File.

In today's medical terms, Inflammatory Lung Disease includes Asthma, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, etc.  But, what did "Inflammation of the Lungs" mean in the 1800s?

I checked the website
Nineteenth Century Diseases, and it stated the following:
"In the last century, cause of death often was listed as inflammation of a body organ; such as, brain or lung, but this was purely a descriptive term and is not helpful in identifying the actual underlying disease."
I did a bit more sleuthing and found different information in the website  eHistory's Common Civil War Medical Terms.  According to this website, "Inflammation of the Lungs" was the equivalent to pneumonia today.

So, with conflicting information, I guess it's really not clear what the underlying cause of death was for poor little Asbury.

Unfortunately, Asbury wasn't the only child of Moses and Amanda's children who died before reaching adulthood.  They lost three more children:  two under the age of five, and one when he was fourteen years old.

If you'd like to check out Asbury's FindaGrave memorial page, just click the following link: 
Asbury's Memorial Page

Thanks for reading!


© 2013 Copyright by Jana Last

1 "United States Census (Mortality Schedule), 1850," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Jan 2013), A B Webster, Meigs county, Meigs, Ohio, United States; citing NARA microfilm publication M432


  1. Sixty days - how that child must have suffered. Thanks for mentioning the sites you checked. I keep looking for information on my 3g-grandmother's disease and can find nothing. Maybe one of these will help.

    1. Hi Wendy,

      I know! Sixty days of suffering for that poor little guy! And his parents must have been beside themselves with worry.

      I hope those websites will help you find what your looking for.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. How sad that they lost three children so young. Your 3rd great grandparents must have been so heartbroken.

    1. Hi Andrea,

      Yes, I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for Moses and Amanda to lose three of their children.

      Thank you for reading and for your comments.

  3. I'm still raising my youngsters. The thought of losing one of them is not something I want to think about. I found the gravestone of my Great Grandmother Evaline Geiszler in May. On the tombstone "Our Dear Little Boy" was inscribed, as he was under the age of five. His death was listed as influenza but his sister suspects it could have been an allergic reaction to something on a farm they visited the week before. Who knows. In any case, thank you for remembering the little one that your 3rd Great Grandmother surely never forgot.

    1. Hi Devon,

      Oh, poor Evaline! She must have been broken-hearted when her little son passed away.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your comments.

  4. As heartbreaking as it is today to learn about the children our ancestors lost, it had to be so many times worse for them. When I read about families who lost three, four, or more children, I wonder how they managed to get through the day. One family I researched lost six out of seven children. You've done a wonderful thing here by telling little Asbury's story so tenderly, and ensuring that he won't be forgotten.

    1. Hi Shelley,

      Oh how tragic! Six of their seven children died? I can't even imagine how incredibly heartbreaking that must have been for those parents.

      I appreciate you stopping by to read my blog post and for your comments!

  5. It is so heartbreaking to find the deaths of so many little ones. I can't imagine how hard it must have been for them to have lost so many innocent little children. Beautiful story Jana.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your sweet comments. It really is heartbreaking to think of these parents losing so many of their children.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  6. Thanks for sharing Asbury's story with us, Jana. I appreciated your research on his illness and how you put it into context. Tragic for his family and hard to imagine ... Life was so fragile back then ... and really still is, I suppose.

    1. Yes, the deaths of these three children in this family must have been extremely difficult to deal with. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it must have been.

      I appreciate your comments. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  7. I notice so many old terms for disease: Cholera (wiped out now, I think), Consumption (probably TB), and Flux -- which must go by several different names today. Once I saw a list of medicines that soldiers were requesting from the (Confederate) front line in the Civil War. I did not recognize any medicine I had ever heard of, except perhaps "quinine." How fortunate that we and our children are living after medical advances, so that we have a chance of living our full life spans.

    1. Mariann,

      Yes, I do believe Consumption is TB, but I don't know what Flux is. My great-grandmother died of TB in 1919.

      I am truly thankful to live in a time when there are so many medical advances that benefit us and our children.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!




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