Cause of Death: “Saw Throat”

“OUR DAUGHTER
IN MEMORY OF FLORENCE ANN
3RD DAUGHTER OF
WILLIAM & JULIA ANN
AYRES
BORN NOV. 27, 1848
DIED JULY 24, 1859
‘BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART
FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD'”
This tall marble grave marker in Danville’s Green Hill Cemetery belongs to ten-year-old Florence Ayres. Her parents were William Ayres, a wealthy tobacconist, and his second wife Julia Ann Henderson Ayres. At the time of the 1850 Federal Census, the only census that Florence was living during, her family lived in Danville. Sadly there is no street address listed on the census. I think it’s interesting to be able to link the house to its former inhabitants & imagine what life was like when they were living there.

 According to the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedule for the year ending June 1, 1860, Florence’s cause of death was “saw throat.” I’m sure this was meant to read, “sore throat.” The handwriting on the record is difficult to read, but it looks like it says she was sick for two weeks with whatever illness claimed her life. Of course this isn’t an official death record and its information is only as reliable as the person who reports it to the census taker.
I researched possible outbreaks of diphtheria or similar illnesses in Danville around the time of Florence’s death and so far haven’t found anything conclusive.
Florence’s father’s 1885 obituary indicates that from his marriage to Julia there were three surviving sons and one surviving daughter.
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3 thoughts on “Cause of Death: “Saw Throat””

  1. Fascinating post. I suppose she died of some sort of throat infection rather than a sorw or saw throat. But anything is possible I guess.

    Thank you for linking up with Cemetery Sunday

    Beneath Thy Feet

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  2. There are times when my throat has felt like there was a tiny saw inside it, but I have never felt that my life was in mortal danger from it (no matter how I wished the pain to end!)

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  3. Interesting, indeed. She could have had some kind of infection, although it’s hard to imagine anyone passing away from strep or something.

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