Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tis the Season of All Hallow's Eve - Fannie Explores Records of Death

Let's face it!  When the air turns crisp and cool, and  leaves turn  a wide array of colors, it is natural for us to focus on one of the most exciting childhood holidays....Halloween.  Kids dress in costumes of every genre....silly, scary, pretty, ugly, etc.  This holiday did not start with doling out candy to urchins ringing our doorbells.  It started with remembrance of those who have passed away.  Death becomes the subject of the origins of this day.

Fannie has made it her goal to find out about all records and documents that might uncover hidden secrets that will fill holes in her family tree, and perhaps knock down some brick walls in her research.  She's got some fine ideas to share  with you, so that you, too, can solve some family mysteries that you may have in your ancestry.

Fannie, Black Lab Mix, History Buff Mutt

Where does she start?  Well, death certificates are a good place.  They certify the death date of a person, and have secondary information to point her in other directions.  If the place of burial is mentioned, then looking for records for that interment is a possibility.  The place of death is important because there may have been a will, a probate case, an obit in the newspaper, and address of the deceased person's place of residence could be the same place where the death occurred.  Social security death files may contain more information of the person.  The cemetery plot/grave records should tell who purchased the grave site, and when.  There may also be others related to that person buried next to them, or very nearby.  Each piece of information can lead you to another clue about the deceased.  Fannie has to look over every bit of information that is mentioned in these resources and explore where additional facts can be found from these.  She has to be a detective!

"Cemetery Inscriptions of Madison County New York, Volume 1", by Mary K. Meyer and Joyce C. Scott, Heritage Books, http://www.ancestorstuff.com/new-york-madison-cemetery-inscriptions-of-madison-county-new-york-volume-1.html
 Books about cemetery inscriptions can be helpful, as they are abstracts of the information inscribed on tombstones and memorial markers in cemeteries.

"A Collection of Abstracts From Otsego County, New York Newspaper Obituaries, 1808-1875", compiled by Gertrude Audrey Barber, Heritage Books, http://www.ancestorstuff.com/new-york-otsego-a-collection-of-abstracts-from-otsego-county-new-york-newspaper-obituaries-1808-1875.html
 Newspapers can provide such interesting information. Search them through various databases online, or consult books like this one, a compiled abstract book of newspaper articles.

"Death and Marriage Notices, Tompkins County, New York, 1879-1890", compiled by Nancy E Greene Young, CGRS, Heritage Books, http://www.ancestorstuff.com/new-york-tompkins-death-and-marriage-notices-tompkins-county-new-york-1870-1890-nancy-e.-greene-young..html
Some texts, such as the one above, can combine abstracts and extracts from various publications.  This one happens to be taken from a publication of the DeWitt Historical Society in Ithaca, New York. Historical and Genealogical Societies are a nice resource to use for histories of people and places.

 Various states have free databases of death certificates, indexes and images.  

Your local library may have access to several databases that could lead you to the exact information that you desire, or at least close by.  Think outside the box when searching.

Many cemeteries have their own burial databases to browse, or you might try "Find A Grave" and "Billion Graves" for their search engine capabilities.   

Church Records can hold some very interesting information like, family names, dates of birth/marriage/death, and places of residence.

Funeral Home records may also be available for your deceased member.  Check the information on the death certificate for the name and location of the funeral director.  Placing a polite inquiry with them just might result in a lucky find.

Don't forget to browse the will and probate records for the area that your deceased person lived in.  Sometimes newspapers published notices of probates that were currently awaiting claims to be collected against a deceased person's accounts.  Many of these records are on microfilms...check FamilySearch.org for further available information, or search the county recorder's office websites to see if they offer a search for the papers. Many wills can be found in the nearby county court.  Send them an  inquiry, or make an appointment to visit in person.

Newspaper articles may contain information if your person died in an unconventional way.  And, along with that, police records may also contain some secrets to help you. Also, if your person belonged to a club, group or organization, they may have had it's own publication (think companies, brotherhoods and labor unions), that may mention members, present and past.

Once again, Fannie urges you to think outside the box....do a wide search for any records that may have had any mention of the passing of your deceased subject.  

Don't forget pension papers, especially those belonging to deceased military veterans.  These are a treasure trove of information for the deceased and his/her family and close relatives.

AncestorStuff.com has an extensive collection of published items from many publishers and writers.  Search for categories like DEATH, FUNERALS, OBITS, PENSIONS, PROBATES, WILLS and DEEDS, just to mention a few.  

If you need help in the search for information on your deceased person, just ask.  Fannie can help you in whatever way she can!

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