Spooky, Unexplained, and Downright Unusual Causes of Death

By Ashlee Peck

It’s the creepiest day of the year, and we asked you to chime in with the spooky, unexplained, and downright unusual causes of death in your family history.  We’ve collected some of our very favorite answers from our social media followers, check them out below!

Halloween Genealogy Causes Death Spooky Strange


“The death certificate for one of my 3x great-grandmothers records the cause of death as “visitation from God”. I assume she just dropped dead for no apparent reason! (I do know she was an upstanding Christian church-goer.)” ~ Jane

“4x great grandfather was a preacher whose horse kicked him in the head and he died from it. And my grandmother’s uncle lived in Texas and got in an argument with the neighbor over a tree branch leaning in to his yard. And the neighbor took his axe and cut his head off.” ~ Jessi

“I have a relative whose cause of death was “Hit by Frying Trunk”. I have no idea what this is, but it seems unpleasant.” ~ Diana

“I had 3 people (my grandfather at 28, great-grandfather at 43, and great uncle at 22) die in crashes on the same small road in Ohio within 14 years. My GGG Grandfather was killed by a ‘vicious ram’.” ~ Kris

“One ancestress filed for a mother’s pension when her son died in the Civil War. The government refused her because her disabled husband was still alive, despite letters from doctors, ministers and neighbors telling how crippled he was and how destitute they were. Next thing you know, he is found floating face-down in the river.” ~ Amy

“And just because Halloween is just around the corner— my 10th Gr-Grandparents, John & Joan Carrington. Both hanged for Witchcraft in Connecticut, 1651.” ~ Sue

“My great-grandmother’s death certificate cause of death “wore out” (she was 96). Husband’s great-grandma’s death cert cause of death “Ford touring car”. ~ Susan

“Hit by an out of control gravity railway car, accidentally eating poisonous roots, laudanum overdose, died in Salem jail while charged with witchcraft, died on British prison ship during Revolution, killed by Native Americans while delivering pay to Texas Confederate troops, falling overboard an East Indiaman during a storm off the Cape of Good Hope. I think I have an ex-ancestor who died because whale blubber fell on him.” ~ Jennifer

“Well, he’s not my ancestor, but my 3rd great uncle had been ill and he was attacked by a turkey, and he died shortly after that” ~ Karen

“My grandmother liked to say she was a witch that kept the hurricanes away from South Florida. She moved there right after Betsy in 1968, and died in March of 1992. Andrew hit that August. #ImJustSayin” ~ Mary

“Blown up by dynamite while working as a log driver” ~ Kelly

Thanks to everyone who shared!