Euthanasia (Mercy Killing) in 1904 Pennsylvania

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Death certificate.

Late in the 20th century, political discussions arose over whether it would be the right thing to euthanize a suffering individual. The practice has been a common one for animals for time immemorial. But the idea of euthanasia has still not gained serious acceptance. Or has it?

I’m the family historian, researching the family lines as far back as possible: my two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so forth. I also included siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews. I tossed in a few extra, as well, if they seemed to merit consideration for some particular reason.

One of my lines was that of my mother’s mother’s father’s line, that man being John Elwood Jr. Stockham, of Camden, New Jersey. He died in his 30s of enteric fever, which I have speculated he contracted from his work as a mortician. Going further back in the Stockham line, which originated in England, I found some other Stockham researchers. We help each other to find additional information, documents, and photos of Stockhams.

George Stockham (1812-1904)

One of these was a George Stockham who was married to a Sarah Opdyke. George was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in September of 1812. He married Sarah on November 9, 1835 at the Baptist Church in Bordentown, Burlington County, New Jersey. To date, I have found the couple had 8 children. As late as 1900, I find George at 284 Main Street, Bordentown, New Jersey.

After 1900, I do not see George’s wife so far. She apparently died after her husband, as his death certificate indicates he was married at the time of his death on the 19th of June in 1904, at 2635 Germantown Avenue, Germantown, Pennsylvania. George had been a carpenter. His physician at the time of his death is listed as Dr. Gordon M. Christine. Everything is neatly written and above board—everything, that is, except his cause of death.



What is listed as the chief cause of death for George Stockham (1812-1904)? The death certificate—used as the image associated with this article—reads: Senility, Euthanasia.

No secondary, contributing, cause of death is listed.


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