Mortality Schedules

Census years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 included information about individuals who died within the 12-month period before the census-taking.  These lists are known as “Mortality Schedules” and may be the only record of death for some individuals. Many states did not require death records until the late nineteenth century. In addition, gravestones or cemetery records may be nonexistent. 

The 1860 mortality schedules include persons who died between June 1, 1859 and May 31, 1860.  For each person, the following information is listed: name, age, sex, marital status if married or widowed,  state or country of birth, month of death, occupation, cause of death, and the length of the final illness.

Two of our Irish family matriarchs – Honora Quinn and Margaret Hickey, widowed women in their 70s – immigrated to Minnesota with their adult children and are reflected in the 1857 Territorial Census, but they are not shown in the 1860 census. I haven’t found any death record for either woman.

I recently browsed the 1860 mortality schedules for Minnesota, hoping I’d find (Quinn or Hickey) names that had been overlooked in the transcribing. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but it was a valuable experience nonetheless.

As expected, many of the deceased individuals on the mortality schedule were children. Cholera, consumption and typhoid fever were principal causes of death for adults. There were also accidents and occasional violent deaths.

I was side-tracked by an entry for Anne Bilansky, age 40 and born in Pennsylvania. In March 1860 in Ramsey County, she was hung for the murder of her husband. A Find-a-Grave item indicated her date of death was 23 March 1860. I made additional queries but found no more details about her deceased husband or the crime.

Oddly a MN marriage record (FHL film # 1314545) popped up on Ancestry.com. A woman named Ann Bilansky married Joseph Fronelle/Fronelte in Ramsey County. The record was apparently transcribed twice, one marriage dated 28 March 1860 and one dated 28 March 1861. The woman who murdered her husband was already buried in Calvary Cemetery! Could there be two women in 1860 Ramsey County named Anne/Ann Bilansky?

Oh how I wish I knew the rest of the story!

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