Do you think you had an ancestor who died between June 1849 and May 1850 and don’t have much in any details? Well, using the FamilySearch.org site, it has the U. S. Federal Mortality Census (Schedule) for 1850. This year of 1850 was the first time such an special census was conducted. It was done with the regular Federal Census for population in 1850, but covered just those people using the period of June 1849 through May 1850 who had died for whatever reason.
This 1850 collection with FamilySearch.org which is free, has some 18,718 images. Unfortunately, not all deaths were reported. Sometimes family members moved, a few in different locations and no one may have remembered to include an uncle or brother who died 10 months earlier.
The purpose for doing the mortality schedule for several different decades (1850 – 1880) was to get an overview of the death rate among, women, men, children, as well what people were dying from. As may be guessed, diseases were number one. In certain regions of the country, where life was less civilized, many deaths were due to murder.
Some of the type of information available include the person’s name, age, sex, race, the month they died, what they died from, marital status and occupation. The later mortality schedules of 1870 and 1880 including information on the person’s parents and how long they had lived in the U. S.
On the FamilySearch.org site for 1850 the following states are searchable: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah Territory and Virginia. Not all states have available mortality schedules for 1850.
So using the site, place a surname can be inserted and where ever that name appears in one of the above states, it will be listed. If you find one of interest, click on the name and then a brief listing of information will appear. Then click on ‘View image’ to see the actual scanned handwritten listing of deaths in that locality, along with the individual you were looking for.
Review the other names, their ages, how long they were ill and what was the cause of death. Even if you don’t find an ancestor, if the schedule covers an ancestral hometown, go over it. Generally in a given area, there will be many people dying of the same thing – a disease. Some of the diseases or illnesses were lung fever, consumption, diarrhea, small pox, hooping cough and cholera. Use the arrows in the upper right corner to view additional pages for the location. On the left use the sliding scale to enlarge the image. You can also ‘save’ a page of interest to your computer.
What is interesting is to see other, non-disease deaths such as intoxication, hives, poisoned by eating wild parsnip, accident, drownings, burns, kicked by a horse, old age, along with the ‘unknown cause’.
For other years (1860-1880) available online is ‘MoralitySchedule.com‘ showing additional locations and time periods. These will not have the original handwritten schedules, but a transcript of those documents. Again, not every county in every state is available. Still some interesting reviewing and hopefully finding new information on an ancestor.
Photo: Morality Schedule from Fort Bend, Texas 1850.< Return To Blog