Thursday, January 2, 2014

Death Records

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Genealogy tip for today: Death Records


Happy New Year from Books, Bones and Beyond! New years are always for looking forward, high hopes for good things to come. We never want to think about things that make us sad.

However, we have recently been talking about customs at death and since I have other ideas on the ‘death topic’ to write about, I thought I would continue in that vein for the time being. 

When we talk about death records, there usually is only one type that comes to mind: the death certificate. There is a lot of timely information on these records that can take us to search for further information elsewhere. But let’s first talk about what we can find on those primary records. 

The obvious is the person’s name and date of death, also the place of death. There usually are listed other bits of information like, where buried, what funeral home was used, the doctor’s name or coroner, the (immediate) cause of death, the informant’s name. Possibly listed may be his occupation, his military service, date of birth and maybe marriage, including locations. 

These can all lead to further research, further records to find. If military service is noted, you will want to look for his military records. If the occupation implies membership in a union, guild, tradesmen organization, these are more records to track down. 

On the Informant’s name, you can pick up on some clues by the person who gave information on the deceased. If it was a close relative, the information is apt to be more accurate. If you can’t find a maiden name, check the relation of the informant to the deceased. Maybe that will give you an idea. 

Besides an obituary, if the cause of death was not a natural event, such as a result of a fire, car accident or a crime, then look for a newspaper article. You may find more information about the person in a newspaper article than you might find on a death certificate. And of course, look for the obit. I have discovered, however, that not everybody has an obit in the paper. But odds are more likely you will find one, than not, especially from the 1900’s and forward. 

Some of the other type records to look for could be Death Indices, Transport records – (when death took place in one locality and burial was somewhere else and the body was sent by train, plane, et al.). Funeral homes have their own records, as well as churches. The Social Security Death Index can give you information, albeit limited. It has some names as early as 1960, but was more actively used by the end of that decade. Don’t forget the censuses with mortality lists, also. 

Genealogy is typically a domino game, in that one thing can easily lead to another. So when you look for one record, as you examine it, ask yourself if that information could lead you to still another document. And sometimes you have to look for these ‘other documents’ when the actual death certificate doesn’t exist. When push comes to shove these can become substitutes to the actual death certificate.



“History – it’s who we are; Genealogy – it’s who I am” sg




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Catholic forces under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, above, take the town of Granada, the last Muslim kingdom in Spain.
The French begin bombardment of Madras, India.
Photography pioneer Louis Daguerre takes the first photograph of the moon.
The USS Brooklyn is readied at Norfolk to aid Fort Sumter.
In the second day of hard fighting at Stone's River, near Murfreesboro, Tenn., Union troops defeat the Confederates.
President Theodore Roosevelt closes a post office in Indianola, Mississippi, for refusing to hire a Black postmistress.
U.S. Marines are sent to Santo Domingo to aid the government against rebel forces.
After a six-month siege, Russians surrender Port Arthur to the Japanese.
Russian Bolsheviks threaten to re-enter the war unless Germany returns occupied territory.
Japanese forces in Manchuria set up a puppet government known as Manchukuo.
In Berlin, Nazi officials claim that their treatment of Jews is not the business of the League of Nations.
In the Philippines, the city of Manila and the U.S. Naval base at Cavite fall to Japanese forces.
The Allies capture Buna in New Guinea.
In Vietnam, the Viet Cong down five U.S. helicopters in the Mekong Delta. 30 Americans are reported dead.
American G.I.s move into the Mekong Delta for the first time.
The United States admits the accidental bombing of a Hanoi hospital.
President Jimmy Carter asks the U.S. Senate to delay the arms treaty ratification in response to Soviet action in Afghanistan.
British police arrest the "Yorkshire Ripper" serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe.
A severe winter storm hits the Midwestern US; in Chicago temperatures plunge to -13 ºF and19 inches of snow fell; 68 deaths are blamed on the storm.
A coal mine explosion in Sago, West Virginia, kills 12 miners and critically injures another. This accident and another within weeks lead to the first changes in federal mining laws in decades.

Helen Herron Taft, above, First Lady to President William Howard Taft.
Gilbert Murray, Australian-born scholar, chairman of the League of Nations, (1923-1928).
Isaac Asimov, American writer of over 300 books including Foundation and I, Robot.
William J. Crowe, US admiral; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under US presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush; he was ambassador to the UK under President Bill Clinton.
Roger Miller, singer, songwriter, actor ("King of the Road," "Dang Me").
Hugh Shelton, US general; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1997–2001; the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US occurred near the end of his term.
Judith Miller, journalist; while working for the New York Times, she was involved in two major controversies, one concerning faulty information in her coverage of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and the other concerning the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Cuba Gooding Jr., actor; won Academy Award for Jerry Maguire.

 Word for the Day



(yahr or yayr)



adjective: 1. Easily maneuverable; nimble. 2. Ready; prepared.



From Old English gearo/gearu (ready). Earliest documented use: 888.



"I do desire to learn, sir; and, I hope, if you have occasion to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare."
William Shakespeare; Measure For Measure; 1604.

"She was a 'bonnie lass' in the words of her chief engineer; she was faithful, she was yare -- an unlikely compliment for a vessel without sails."
D.C. Riechel; German Departures; iUniverse; 2009.


Never confuse motion with action. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)



Today’s Recipe

Soups for Cold Winter Days



·       3 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat

·        3 carrots, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

·        Salt and freshly ground black pepper

·       8 ounces medium egg noodles

·        Cooked chicken meat, shredded (from Homemade Chicken Stock recipe)

·        1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, or 1 tablespoon dried dill
      1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley


Step 1

Place stock in a stockpot over medium-high heat, and bring just to a simmer. Add carrots, and simmer until tender, about 6 minutes.

   Step 2

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles until just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain noodles, and add them to the pot of stock, along with shredded chicken meat. Season with salt and pepper. Heat until very hot. When ready to serve, stir in dill and parsley.


Martha Stewart Living, October 1999





Now You Know!