Family Health History

Family Health History

In my genealogical research, I have found the following maladies affected our ancestors:

Alzheimer's Disease

My father was diagnosed with this degenerative disease of the brain in 2003, and exhibited symptoms years earlier. Unfortunately, because he is much younger than the typical AD patient, the indicators were largely overlooked.

I did find at least one other apparent incident of the disease in the family. My father's great-great-great grandmother Eliza Swan Blakesley. She was described in 1881 as being already "old, feeble, and in need of assistance" in a federal pension application--though she was only 55 years old at that time. In the same file, her brother Henry made an affidavit in which he stated that "She has lost her mind and is unable to recognize her friends and acquaintanaces, and cannot perform a rational act." The family witnessed Eliza's gradual deterioration for about 2 or 3 years, until the Fall of 1883 when "she became wholly unable to recognize her friends."

Alzheimer's is an insidious disease. But, knowledge is power. To learn more, check out

Pleural Pneumonia

My ancestor Amasa Blakesley (1828-1874)died at the relatively young age of 46, of Pleural Pneumonia--a build up of fluid around the lungs. Symptoms included chest pains and shortness of breath. Mild cases may now be treated with a simple ibuprofin regimen. More severe cases may require surgery to drain the fluid. Amasa's doctors believed he contracted this disease from his service in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was stationed in the "malarial districts" of Mississippi.

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Last updated May 9, 2003.