The Importance Of Analyzing A Document

I recently received a death certificate for Amner Caroline Flock.  She is my g-g-g grandmother on my maternal line.  Amner Caroline and her husband, John are both buried in Enid Cemetery, Enid, Oklahoma.  Using the information from their headstone, I ordered death certificates for both of them.

I sat down yesterday and proceeded with my document “intake” process.  I first scanned the death certificate.  I then added a source citation to the meta data for the digital image and filed it under the proper surname. Next, I opened a word document and transcribed the death certificate.  This was also saved to the correct surname folder.  I also added facts from the death certificate to my genealogy software and linked each to a source citation.

After I transcribed the death certificate, I noticed two items that needed further analysis.  The first was the birth date for Amner Caroline.  It was listed as 1841 on the death certificate.  This did not match with the date of 1840 I have in my software.  The next box on the death certificate listed that she would have been 92 years, 3 months, 4 days old at death.  I also noticed that my genealogy software said Amner Caroline would have been 92 years old with a death date in 1933.  I found an online date calculator and input the death date and subtracted the 92 years, 3 months, and 4 days.  Sure enough, the answer it calculated was 1840.  The person who filled out the death certificate made an error in the birth year.

The second item that caught my attention was the informant’s name.  It is listed as Addie Thorp.  I wanted to know more about this person and how she would know the particulars of my g-g-g grandmother’s life.  My first step was to check Amner Caroline’s 1930 federal census.  I did this for two reasons: 1. to check to see if she lived at the same address 3 years earlier and 2. did Addie Thorp live on the same street.  To my surprise, Addie was listed as living with her mother, Amner Caroline.

This find created another “who is that?” moment.  I did not have a daughter named Addie in my research.  I do have a daughter named Martha who was born in the same year.  I tried a search at ancestry.com for Addie Thorp and Addie Flock.  Neither of these resulted in any major finds.  Next I tried a general search for the last name Flock (Addie’s maiden name) and a spouse with the last name Thorp.  This did not find any great results either.

I went back to the 1930 census and looked at it again.  I noticed this time that Addie’s last name was transcribed as Tharp.  I went back to ancestry.com and did another round of searches for Addie Tharp and the last names Flock and Tharp.  BINGO!

I found a marriage record index listing in Oregon for Addie Flock and Frank Tharp.  I also found online family trees that listed this particular daughter’s name as Adeline Martha Flock.  It appears that the same person who filled out the death certificate for Amner Caroline made a second mistake and misspelled Addie’s last name.

I need to now order a death certificate for Addie Tharp to confirm her parents.  This is still a great find because Addie (Martha) was another woman who seemed to vanish in my family.  Finding married female ancestors is always exciting for me.

I thought adding this death certificate would only take 15 minutes.  I ended up spending much more time than that as I worked through the process and confirmed additional information.  It is so important to take the time to analyze a document when you receive it.  If you don’t, you just might miss a female relative hiding on the page.

 

Treasure Chest Thursday – William H Gamble Death Certificate

William H Gamble is my great-great-grandfather (me ->my dad->Mary Dempsey->Amelia Gamble->William H Gamble). He was born August 18, 1872.  He married Eliza P Lahey about 1891.  They had three daughters, Mary Alice, Amelia Josephine, and Faith Dorothy Mildred.  They lived in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania.

Certificate of Death
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
File No. 110204
Primary Registration District no. 02-41-21
Registered no. 216
1. County of Allegheny, Borough of Sharpsburg
2.Full Name: William H Gamble
a.Residence : 30 Bridge
3.Sex: M
4.Color: W
5.Single, Married, Widowed, or Divorced: Married
a.Husband or wife of: Eliza P Lahey
6.Date of Birth: Aug 18, 1872
7.Age: 64 years, 3 month, 23 days
8.Occupation of Deceased: None
9.Birthplace: Penns.
10.Name of Father: John Gamble
11.Birthplace of Father: Penns.
12.Maiden Name of Mother: Alice Wise
13.Birthplace of Mother: Penns.
14.Informant: Eliza P Lahey (wife) 30 Bridge Street
15.Filed: Dec. 14, 1936 John L Huge?????????
16.Date of Death: Dec 11, 1936
17.Cause of Death: Cerebral Apoplafy?? Contributory factor: Myacardial Degeneration
18.No operation, no autopsy
19.Place of Burial: St Mary’s Cemetery
20.Date of Burial: Dec 15, 1936

Tuesday’s Tip – Verify You Have The Right Vital Record

Yesterday I was so excited to see an envelope in the mail with my handwriting on it.  Self addressed envelopes always get opened first!  I tore open the envelope with excitement at what new information may be waiting inside for me.

Due to budget constraints, sending off for vital records is not an everyday occurrence in my house.  This makes them even more special.  I am always very careful to fill out request forms with all of the information I have about my ancestor.  I have found that sometimes even with the information listed, I receive a record that is NOT my ancestor.

Last year, in preparation for my genealogy vacation to Kansas, I followed up on missing information.  I ordered several vital records and updated my searches on Internet sites.  I received a death certificate for Mary Switzer.  I had used a date range for her death in my request using dates my grandma vaguely remembered.  When the certificate arrived I was so excited and immediately jumped onto the Internet to see what else I could find using the new data.  After about an hour of finding lots of new information, I realized there were also lots of inconsistencies.  After some analysis, I found that there are two Mary Switzers who were married to a Frank Switzer around the same time and same area of Kansas.  The death certificate was not my 2nd great grandmother.  Thankfully, I was able to obtain the correct death certificate before my trip.  The correct death certificate led me to the cemetery in Halstead, Kansas.

I learned an important lesson that day – always take a moment to check your records and see if the vital record you received is really the ancestor you are looking for.

Yesterday, that self addressed envelope was a bright light on a difficult day with my almost 3 year old.  I have been waiting about 3 months for a response from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  After opening the death certificate for Edward D Lahey, I went to my computer to verify that it was my Edward.  Almost immediately my spirits fell.  This was obviously not my Edward.  This Edward died in 1973.  My Edward died between 1910-1920.  I am going to see if I can find any further information narrowing down the date of death before attempting to order this death certificate again.

After some irritation at the Department of Heath for not looking the details listed in my request, I poured myself a glass of wine and got over it.  I decided instead that the next time I go to Northern Virginia to visit my parents, we will just have to take a mini genealogy vacation to Pittsburgh.  We still have some relatives living there to visit, cemeteries to document, and prove the parents of Edward if we can.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Catharine Offerman Pope Death Certificate

Catherine Offerman in my husband’s 2nd great grandmother.  She was born in Germany in 1865.  She immigrated to the United States in 1887 or 1888 with her husband, John Pope.  They lived at 3335 26th Street in San Francisco.  Catherine died a horrible death.  She received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her body after gas on the floor of her home caught fire.  I am told by my husband’s grandfather, who was 5 at the time of the accident, that Catherine was cleaning the floor with the gasoline.  The house burned down and was rebuilt.  I scanned the copy of the death certificate (below) from the genealogy stash at my husband’s grandfather’s house.  I plan on visiting the San Francisco Library to see if there were any articles written in the newspaper about the fire.  Hopefully, I will be able to add more to this story at a later date.

3335 26th Street, San Francisco, CA
Left: in 1989. Right:early 1900’s before burning down.

State of California, Department of Public Health, Vital Statistics, Standard Certificate of Death # 32-005460

1. Place of Death: Dist. No 3801, City and County of San Fransisco, Franklin Hospital
2. Full Name: Catharine Pope
3. Sex: Female
4. Color or Race: White
5. Single, Married, Widowed, or Divorced: Widowed, wife of the late John Pope
6. Date of Birth: August 27, 1865
7. Age: 66 years, 4 months, 24 days
8. Occupation: At Home
9. Birthplace: Germany
10. Name of Father: C.H. Offerman
11 Birthplace of Father: Germany
12. Maiden Name of Mother: Anna Hink
13. Birthplace of Mother: Germany
14. Length of Residence: 45 years, in California 45 years
15. Informant: Per Mr C H Offerman, 547 Guerrero Street
16. Date of Death: January 21st, 1932
17. Cause of Death: Second and third degree burns of body. (One half body area) Accidental ignition of gasoline.
18. Special Information, Former Residence: 3335 26th St.
19. Place of Burial: Cypress Lawn Burial
20. Date of Burial: Jan. 23, 1932
21. Undertaker: H F Suhr Co, 2919 Mission Street

Wedding Wednesday – The many husbands of Agnes Mattson

Agnes Mattson is my husband’s paternal great-grandmother (Shirley Gingg -> Agnes Mattson).

From the stories I have been told, Agnes Mattson is one of those people you wish you had the chance to know.  She was born May 1, 1909 in San Francisco, California to Charles Mattson and Wendla Botmaster.  She was the middle child of five, having two older brothers and two younger brothers.  The eldest son died an early death and Agnes never knew him.  She worked in the Talmage State Hospital for many years and also owned 1000 acres in Hopland at one time.

Agnes is a woman who never gave up on love and kept trying her had a marriage.  She has 7 documented marriages and a deathbed confession of an 8th marriage.  We have not located any information about the 8th marriage.

Here is a peek at Agnes’ many husbands:

1.  Charles Frank Gingg.  Agnes and Charles married September 5, 1925 in San Francisco.  Charles was 22 at the time of the marriage.  The marriage certificate indicates that Agnes was 19 but she lied.  She was only 16 when she married the first time.  They had one daughter, Shirley Marie Gingg.  Shirley would be Agnes’ only child.  Charles and Agnes were divorced October 10, 1934.  The reason for the divorce was Charles having been sent to San Quentin Prison for his involvement of a burglary/murder in Santa Rosa, California in 1933.

2.  William Earl Hines.  Agnes married Bill Hines June 15, 1936.  The wedding was witnessed by Edwin and Sylvia Mattson, Agnes’ brother and his wife.  They lived in Napa, California.  Bill died in 1945 of a heart attack.

3.  Andrew A. Hooks.  Agnes married a third time to Andy Hooks on November 3, 1950.  Andrew was in the Air Force and stationed at Travis AFB in Fairfield, California.  There is a family story that this marriage ended in a quickie divorce in Mexico.  I do not know if this is true or not.  But I have no other knowledge of how the marriage ended.

4.  Daniel M. Williams.  Dan and Agnes married March 3, 1953.  Their marriage was annulled in the first two weeks of February 1955.

5. Donald Edward Frazier.  As soon as her previous marriage was annulled, Agnes married Don Frazier on February 14, 1955 in Reno, Nevada.  They lived in Talmage, Mendocino, California.  Don was Agnes’ favorite husband and they are buried next to each other in Colma, California.  He died in May 1958 from lung cancer.

6.  Peter Klick.  Agnes went back to Reno for her next marriage to Pete Klick.  They were married may 18, 1963.  They lived in Hopland, Mendocino, California.  Pete died June 4, 1975 of cancer.

7.  Patrick O’Malley.  Pat O’Malley was Agnes’ last husband.  They were married in Reno, Nevada (do we see a pattern here?) on March 31, 1978.  My mother-in-law remembers being pregnant with my husband as she traveled to Reno to witness the marriage.  Agnes had met Pat in the mobile home park she was living in Cloverdale, California.  The story is that she broke many of the other single women’s hearts when she married Pat, one of the only single men in the neighborhood.  Pat outlived Agnes.  She passed away March 22, 1982 in Cloverdale.

Agnes did have a family bible that she kept written notes about births and deaths in her family.  She wrote information about Don Frazier’s family in the back pages of the bible.  On random pages, she wrote the first names of all of her other husbands in the bottom margins except for Frank Gingg and Dan Williams.  Her many marriages were “hidden” inside of the bible.

Unfortunately, we do not have any information about the name of the mystery 8th husband or the year she may have married him.  I am considering doing some searching in the Reno marriage registers to see if any of her married names show up.  The time frames which Agnes could have married an 8th time are limited as the time periods between marriages were generally only a couple of years apart.

Mystery Monday – Who was Mary Bradley’s mother?

Mary Bradley is my second great grandmother on my mother’s paternal side (William Lawbaugh ->Effie Bender->Mary Bradley).

Mary Eugenia Bradley was born 18 December 1867 in LaSalle county, Illinois.  Her parents are listed on her death certificate as Charles Bradley and Kate Bradley.  The informant listed on the death certificate was her daughter, Matilda ‘Tilly’ (Bender) Case.

Both my mother and one of her cousins remember their ‘Grandma Bender’ (Effie May Bender), Mary’s older daughter & Tilly’s older sister, telling the story about how her mother, Mary Bradley, was born illegitimately to a Jewish woman and forced onto her father’s new bride to raise.  They both also remember a story that Grandma Bender remembers a visit to Mary by the supposed biological mother.

Here are some of the ideas I have researched in my attempt to find an answer to this family story:

Birth Records

  • Birth Records were not kept in the state of Illinois until 1916.
  • LaSalle County, Illinois starting keeping birth records in 1877 but have no earlier records.

Census
An analysis of the census records is not clear either:

  • 1870 Federal Census – living with John and Kate
  • 1880 Federal Census – living with John and Kate and 3 brothers
  • about 1883 – John Bradley dies
  • 1885 Kansas Census – living with Kate and 3 brothers
  • 1900 Federal Census – living with husband, William Bender.  Kate is living in Chicago with her 3 sons.  She indicates that she has had 5 children and only 3 are living.
  • 1910 Federal Census – Mary is living in Kansas with her second husband.  Kate is living with her oldest son and his family in Chicago.  She indicates that she has had 3 children and 3 are living.

It is very interesting that after moving to Chicago, Kate (Cary) Bradley has indicated only 3 children are living when Mary is clearly alive in Kansas.

Marriage Records

  • Mary Bradley’s marriage certificate to William Bender dated 17 December 1877 does not mention Mary’s parents.  There is a certificate signed by John Bender (William’s father) attesting to both Mary and William being of age (18 and 19 respectively).
  • The marriage certificate for John Bradley and Catherine Cary is definitely more interesting.  They applied for a marriage license in LaSalle County, Illinois on November 18, 1867.  The copy of the license I received states that license # 1243 was ‘not returned, missing’.
  • I have also received a copy of the St. Columba Church marriage records (Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois) for Charles and Kate.  The church records indicate that Charles and Catherine were married November 18, 1867.  The marriage was witnessed by William Edding and Mary Noonan.

The marriage date for Charles and Catherine is only 31 days before Mary was born.  I find it very unlikely that a woman in 1867 would wait until she is 8 months pregnant before marrying the father of her child.  Considering the year, I would expect a woman to have gotten married as soon as possible to hide the fact she was pregnant before marriage.

Conclusions
I have not reached any conclusions about who Mary Bradley’s mother is.

I do find the evidence in favor of Kate Bradley being Mary’s mother on the thin side.  The only person who has stated that fact was Mary’s daughter.  She was obviously did not have first hand knowledge of the birth since she was not there.

There is also no proof yet that another woman is Mary Bradley’s mother.

The only clue I have to the mystery Jewish woman is that her last name might have been Udell.  This name was given to my mother’s cousin by Grandma Bender in a conversation.

I am following up on another research idea right now.  I have sent an inquiry to the Catholic Church, St. Columba, in Ottawa, Illinois to see if they have any birth or baptismal records for Mary Bradley.  This is the church that Charles and Kate got married at just a month before Mary’s birth.

I will keep you updated when I receive a response.