Sunday, July 13, 2008

Age is Relative

Take some time to look over the data that you have collected on members of your family tree, and share a story of age with us … With the understanding that “age is often a state of mind”, share your family story about someone whose story stands out because of their age, either young or old.
For the 52nd Carnival of Genealogy, instead of focusing on one individual, I thought I would start by taking a look at some of the lifespan statistics that I was able to generate with my genealogical software. (see previous entry)

Ave Male Lifespan 61
Ave Female Lifespan 62

At first this feels a little low, but several lines go back a few centuries, when life expectancy was shorter, and infant mortality was higher.

Earliest recorded person with birth/death year
William HORTON, born 1550 AD

When I look at the record, it says “abt 1550” and since I didn’t do the research, I don’t know how the year was derived. William Horton’s grandson, Barnabas Horton, may be the earliest ancestor for whom I have an exact birth date. July 13, 1600. (Happy 408th Birthday!) Barnabas’s fifth-great granddaughter, Abigail Stuart, married Samuel Van Every, who had 22 children, one of which was my mother’s grandfather.

Age At Death &lt 1 = 3.4%
Age At Death 01 to 10 = 4.8%
Age At Death 11 to 20 = 2.8%
Age At Death 21 to 30 = 2.0%
Age At Death 31 to 40 = 5.3%
Age At Death 41 to 50 = 5.6%
Age At Death 51 to 60 = 12.6%
Age At Death 61 to 70 = 17.4%
Age At Death 71 to 80 = 20.2%
Age At Death 81 to 90 = 19.1%
Age At Death 91 to 100 = 6.2%
Age At Death 101 to 110 = 0.6%

I have no idea how this curve compares to that of other families. My gut instinct says the 11% for age 31-50 is probably higher than it is for the 'average family'. But what is the average family? I will look at this further a little later in the entry.

My database is small compared to some – at the moment slightly over 700 people, only half of them with known death dates. So the %s might very well change as I enter more records. Here are a few of the longer lived in my family:

People who lived over 100 years (only 2)
Israel David NEWMARK (1903 - 2004) 101
Joe WYMAN (1904 - 2007) 102

Israel David was my great grandfather, Barney Newmark’s youngest brother. However, due to being the same age as the children of his oldest siblings, he was was given the nickname, “Uncle Buddy.”

Joe was first cousin with my paternal grandmother. I'm not sure I ever met Joe, but I've met his younger sister several times, and she is still alive, and we've sent emails back and forth. She's already earned a place in at least the next category; hopefully she makes it to this one.

People who lived over 90 years
(there are 26, I'm going to mention a handful.)

Paternal grandfather's lines

Ida Adele KESSLER (1907 - 2003) 96

Ida married an “Israel David Newmark”, who happened to be the nephew of the one above, born 4 years later.

Cruvant William ALTMAN (1914 - 2008) 93

Cruvant passed away on March 15th of this year. He was a first cousin to my grandfather, and they were in a law practice together prior too WWII.

Bertha CRUVANT (1887 - 1978) 90

My great grandmother, she is he second longest living direct ancestor for whom I am certain about age at death. I was 9 when she died and I remember her well, but she was in a retirement home, and a wheelchair by then. I’ve enjoyed discovering photos of her from her younger years recently.

Paternal grandmother's lines

Robert Seymour Selig FEINSTEIN (1915 - 2008) 93

Seymour also passed away on March 15th of this year. I started to pen an entry about the Ides of March back then, but it didn't get finished. Seymour was another first cousin of my paternal grandmother.

Maternal Grandfather's lines

Berta DEUTSCH (1911 - 2003) 91

My maternal grandfather’s sister, she is the longest living member of my maternal grandfather’s lines. However, this is also the family I have the least records on, mostly due to it also being the family which, generationally, came to America most recently, with my grandfather (and Berta) having been born in Hungary.

Maternal Grandmother’s lines

Sarah SHOWERS (1762 - 1860) 98

She is a direct ancestor, however, her record says she died before 1860. There is no indication how the year was derived. It could have been significantly prior to 1860.

Elizabeth ROSENBERGER (1752 - 1847) 94

I have complete birth and death dates for Elizabeth which come from a Fretz Family History compiled in the 1890s, and is probably trustworthy. Her granddaughter Elizabeth Sliver married William Denyer, my mother’s second great grandparents.


I've posted before about several early deaths in my family tree, particularly in the Denyer line. While several of the early deaths were in the 1800s, when lifespans were shorter, I still thought the statistics for the Denyers seemed significantly lower than they should have been. I decided it was time to crack the numbers and see just how right I was.

My software doesn’t separate the lifespan statistics by families, but you can export Ancestors/Descendants into a separate GEDCOM, and then open the GEDCOM and run the stats. So that's what I did, and I had some numbers to compare.

"Direct Ancestors"
Starting with me, this GEDCOM had my direct ancestors, with no siblings.

71 males: Avg lifespan: 67
58 females: Avg lifespan: 68

I looked at this as a second control in the study, in addition to the 61/62 in the whole database.

Descendants of Israel David Neimark (his son Samuel was born in 1862, that's all I know)
55 males: Avg lifespan: 66
53 females: Avg lifespan: 74

Descendants of Me’er Kruvant (born before 1795)
116 males: Avg lifespan: 68
110 females: Avg lifespan: 70

These are the only two families I looked at for my father's side, as the other branches have less entries, making the significance of the data questionable. I question the siginificance of the data for the Newmark family as well, and wonder if the stats will look any different once I enter more of the information.

Descendants of William Denyer (1794-1848)
121 males: Avg lifespan: 53
103 females: Avg lifespan: 61

Descendants of Andrew Van Every (1798-1873)
93 males: Avg lifespan: 49
82 females: Avg lifespan: 48

Quite a significant drop.

The argument that it is due to pre-20th century data is possibly negated by comparison to the Kruvant family, as I have information that goes back to the late 1700s for them too, in Lithuania. However, when they immigrated to America, they immigrated to urban St. Louis, not rural Texas. Life expectancy can change based on geography.

Whatever the causes, I definitely confirmed that the life expectancy for the Denyers and Van Everys was sadly lower than for the rest of my family tree.

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