Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Err is Human. To Find Anyway is Divine!

I hate errors on vital records. Really hate it. Why? Because then I have to go back and PROVE why my information is right. That can be incredibly time consuming. For instance, yesterday one of the death certificates had the decedent's father's name wrong. I was able to pull census to prove my information is correct, but I hate having to do that.

Then there was the death record for William P. Smith of Agency, Missouri. According to his death certificate, he was born on August 15, 1916 and died October 15, 1916 at the age of 55 years and 2 months. Not possible. Slightly dyslexic person who filled out the form? According to census and calculating the birth date from his age, he was born August 15, 1861. That was a careless mistake. You see it all the time.

Another careless mistake is they will ask the informant for the father and mother's names. They DON'T want the names of the informant's parents, they want the name of the decedent's parents.

And I can't tell you how much time I've wasted over the years looking for a death record in one state only to find out that the person died somewhere else. This happens mostly when you have a burial record but no death certificate. I am sure there might be a future generation who doesn't know that my grandmother died at the Soo in Michigan (that's Saulte St. Marie for all you non-Michiganders) and not in Lexington, Missouri. And no, she wasn't living at the Soo either. My dad's family was on vacation when my grandma became ill. The transportation costs to transport her back to Detroit, have a service there, and then transportation for the whole family - dad, his brother and father - to Lexington, Missouri where she was ultimately buried - must have been astronomical for 1938.

What did I learn from all this? Widen your search. If you don't find a record where you expect to find one, search for the unexpected. It works.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

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