Death by Mule Kick

From:         RICHARD JENSEN <CAMPBELLD@APSU.BITNET>                            
Subject:      Death by Mule Kick: Accidents in Rural Life                       

===interesting items from ROOTS-L, the Genealogy list======

Date: Sat, 22 May 1993 16:17:00 CST From: Bill Page <WRP5404@TAMRIGEL.BITNET> Subject: Re: Mule-kick deaths

Another common cause of death or disfigurement in the South was cotton gin accidents. Cotton gins were (and may still be for all I know) extremely dangerous places. Every year in probably every cotton-producing county, several people -- usually males -- lost fingers, hands, arms, etc. Probably thousands of people died as a direct result of these accidents.

Without going into more detail than anyone wants, briefly, when gins jammed, or when other problems developed, workers had to stick their hands in to clear them. Hopefully, the gin was fully stopped and the tension released, but ... And, cotton was fed into the gins by hand ...

I haven't noticed any particular difference in the *reported* accident rate for whites vs. blacks. Though I suspect the dirtiest, most dangerous jobs were usually given to the black workers, when possible. However, I've been working from newspaper accounts, and I'm fairly confident that injuries and deaths for whites were better reported than for blacks.

Anyway, my experience (admittedly limited to Texas) is that if your relative was seriously injured or killed in a farm accident, there's an excellent chance that (usually unindexed) newspaper accounts survive -- the Galveston Daily News, for example, published hundreds of such accounts in the 1880s and 1890s, from all parts of Texas.

Bill Page wrp5404@tamrigel.bitnet

rrs@CPU.US.DYNIX.COM (Roger Scanland) writes:

>On Thu, 20 May 1993, Lorrie Knox wrote: >> knew of a similar injury (but from a horse). >> Question: Was this a common occurrence? Any ideas why? > Probably not terribly common, but at least occasional. My >great-grandfather died of a kick to the stomach by a mule. He and other blacksmiths had this as an occupational hazard. Mules apparently don't like being shoed!

Farming accidents in general seem to have caused many deaths. 'Fell off a wagon' or simply 'accident' when you know the family was into farming, tells a lot about the dangers of that occupation back in the 19th century. Horses get spooked sometimes and that can result in sudden death if you happened to be in the wrong place at the time.

Fred -- W. Fred Rump office: fred@COMPU.COM 26 Warren St. home: Beverly, NJ. 08010 609-386-6846 bang:uunet!cdin-1!icdi10!fr

From: Tom Lincoln <lincoln@RAND.ORG> Subject: Re: Gruesome Ends... Was: Mule-kick deaths

In article <ROOTS-L%93052216185451@VM1.NODAK.EDU> Bill Page <WRP5404@TAMRIGEL.BITNET> writes: >Another common cause of death or disfigurement in the South was >cotton gin accidents.

The husband of one of my collateral relatives was crushed to death in a rock crusher in the mining industry in Missouri in the 1890s. This got in the newspapers... described the young bride with her as yet unborn first child, etc.

This was a far cry from the deaths among the missionaries to the Indians. In these accounts, whether by violence or infection, the individual was deemed to have gone on to a better place -- all a result of God's "providence"... It certainly gave them courage.


Date: Sun, 23 May 1993 11:01:00 CST From: Bill Page <WRP5404@TAMRIGEL.BITNET> Subject: Re: Cause of Death, Teething

On 22 May 1993, a question was asked about "teething" as a cause death.

My researches in Brazos Co., Tex. suggest that "teething" was, indeed, listed as a cause of death pretty often.

I'm basing this observation on two sources:

1st, the cemetery record books (listing burials, place of birth, age, and cause of death) have been published for the Bryan, Tex., city cemetery for the period ca. 1880 - 1910.

2nd, I've seen some newspaper accounts listing this as a cause of death.

However, one word of warning -- medicine was pretty primitive before the turn of the century, and autoposies were relatively rare, and even when performed, didn't always yield much real information. So, I would strongly suspect that many deaths attributed to "teething" really were due to something else.

On a related note, I've also seen quite a few obituaries noting that people died from having a tooth pulled or from having an infected tooth. Before antibiotics, any form of infection could result in death.

Bill Page wrp5404@tamrigel.bitnet


Information provider:
Unit: H-Net program at UIC History Department Email:
Posted: 9 Jul 1994

Return to Menu