Wednesday, June 23, 2021

On This Day - Eliza Jane Knight Gibson

I have no photo of Eliza Jane Knight Gibson, daughter of Leanna Jollett and James Mitchell Knight, but I was so sad to find her death certificate on Ancestry.

On 23 June 1928, she died from convulsions following childbirth. Her baby boy Aubrey Willard Gibson lived only 2 months.

What caused her seizures? I had to Google. Postpartum seizures typically occur within 48 hours after delivery as result of a condition called Eclampsia or Preeclampsia. It is a multi-system disorder involving high blood pressure, large amounts of protein in the urine, and organ dysfunction, typically the liver and kidneys.

Seizures are horrific causing the body to jerk, the body to arch and straighten. If you were a fan of "Downton Abbey," you certainly couldn’t forget the scene in which Lady Sybil died from convulsions following the birth of her baby girl. That is probably what it was like for Eliza Jane.

While the symptoms were described as early as the 5th century, they were not given a classification and name until 1897 in France, and then in 1903 in the United States. Likely prevention and treatment of Preeclampsia were still being studied in 1928 when Eliza Jane’s cause of death was simply “convulsions following childbirth.”

Eliza Jane's tombstone
Evergreen Cemetery
Greene County, Virginia


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Aww that is so sad. I thought of Downton Abbey as soon as I began reading.

  2. Oh, how sad! Yes, I am a Downton Abbey fan and remember that tragic scene with Lady Sybil. Poor Eliza Jane and her family!