Two Mysterious Deaths

When looking at the past it’s not unusual to find people dying at what we consider a young age, in their 30s 40s or 50s. Often this is for want of medical advancements we take for granted that make once feared diseases like influenza and pneumonia more easily treatable today. But, what’s not as common is to find a married couple who both die young at nearly the same time.

William Henry Clifton Hammock, my third great grandfather, married Millie Ann Smallwood on May 15, 1845 in Jones County, Georgia. They had four children, one of whom was William Henry Hammock (called Henry), my second great grandfather. Henry was born six month’s after Georgia seceded from the union in 1861. As did most men of his generation, William H.C. Hammock served in the Civil War. Attached to the Georgia 57th Infantry, he was captured after the siege of Vicksburg in July 1863 and later paroled.

Having survived the war, he died a few years later in 1870 at the age of 45. That wouldn’t be unusual except that Millie, his wife, also died in 1870 at only 41, leaving their four minor children orphans. Did they die simultaneously in an accident or did they die at different times during 1870 from different causes? Nothing I’ve found so far gives me the answer.

What I have found is that Millie’s sister and her husband, Georgianna and Benjamin Weaver, became legal guardians to the children and apparently raised them to adulthood. A small notice placed in the Sumter County Republican newspaper in June, 1870 reads:

Whereas Benjamin Weaver applies for the guardianship of the persons and property of Marion Hammock, Henry Hammock, Mary Hammock and Silas Hammock, minors of W.H. Hammock, deceased:

These are therefore to cite and admonish, all and singular, the kindred of said deceased, and all other persons concerned, to be and appear at

Sumter County Republican Noticemy office within the time prescribed by law, and file their objections, if any they have, why letters of guardianship should not be granted, otherwise they will be granted said applicant in terms of law.

Given under my hand and official signature this 16th day of June, 1870.

B.F. Bell, Ordinary

Ironically, my second great grandfather William Henry Hammock (Henry in the above list), also died young. He was stricken with pneumonia and died in 1901 at the age of forty, also leaving four minor children behind.

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