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The death of Lewis Leonard

Lewis Leonard was my 2nd great-grandfather. He was born in Locke, Cayuga County, New York, on October 4, 1869, and was married in 1886 to Cora Sherman. Nine years later, he died at the young age of 28, from Typhoid Fever and I finally found the evidence to prove it!

The record of Lewis's death is on file at the Tioga County, Pennsylvania, Clerk of the Orphans' Court, as follows:


Name of Deceased: Lewis Leonard

​Place of Birth: Locke, Cayuga, New York

​Date of Death: 16 Oct 1897

Place of Death: Main Street, Westfield Boro

Color: White

Cause of Death: Typhoid Fever

​Sex: Male

Duration of Last Illness: 3 weeks

Age: 30 (incorrect)

Place of Interment: Osceola, Pa

Condition: Married

Date of Interment: 19 Oct 1897

Occupation: Laborer

Typhoid fever is caused by bacteria growing in intestines, liver, gallbladder, blood, causing fever, sweating, weakness, abdominal pain, headaches, vomiting, weight loss, constipation, and sometimes a skin rash. Severe infections can result in confusion, which was probably the case with Lewis.

The Typhi bacteria is spread by consuming food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person. This indicates that Lewis was exposed to poor sanitation or had limited access to clean drinking water. A search of Tioga County newspapers printed in 1897 reveals there were many deaths caused by Typhoid Fever in the area that year.

Because he was the only one in the household who was infected, perhaps he was exposed to the bacteria at work. Symptoms of typhoid fever can begin between 6 and 30 days after exposure, although some people carry the bacterium and are not affected by it. They can, however, be carriers, passing it on to others. (Source)

Although it is tragic beyond words that four young children lost their father, we should all be thankful that the children and Cora weren't infected. Those children have many descendants today!


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