Showing posts with label Death Certificate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Death Certificate. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Discrepancy of Dates of Thomas Putman’s Death

Thomas A Putman, privately held by Diana Fancher, Toronto, Canada.

Every summer I send off for several death certificates from the State of Arkansas. I started with my great-grandparents, then my 2nd great-grandparents, and now I have moved up to my 3rd great-grandparents as many of them didn’t die until after the time from which the State of Arkansas started requiring death certificates be filed. This summer, I ordered the death certificates of my 2nd great-grandmother Rosalie Putman Lasiter and her parents, Thomas Adolphus Putman and Martha Ann Ward Putman.

Thomas Adolphus Putnam's Death Certificate, obtained by Ginger R. Smith, from the Arkansas Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Little Rock, Arkansas, 27 August 2012

I saw some interesting information on the death certificate of my 3rd great-grandfather, Thomas Adolphus Putman who died in 1918. His headstone lists his date of death as 21 November 1918. His obituary, which was published in the Southwest American newspaper in Fort Smith, Arkansas on 22 November 1918, says he also died 21 November 1918.
Here is a snippet of his obituary from the Southwest American newspaper (Fort Smith, Arkansas), 22 November, 1918, copied from microfilm at the Fort Smith Public Library.


However, Thomas Adolphus Putman’s  death certificate lists his date of death as 27 November 1918, a whole six days later than what the obituary said! Normally I would just write this off as a mistake or with the rationale that he died on the 21st, but his family waited a week before filing the death certificate on the 27th. This was often the case for families who lived in rural areas.
A physician testified that he had attended to Thomas from the 26th of November to the 27th of November when he last saw him alive. Death occurred at 8 pm. Although this information was filled in on the death certificate, no physician actually signed it. The cause of death was “paralysis” which usually meant he had a stroke, probably due to old age.




I’ve never really fretted over this next item that much because it’s pretty common to reside in one area and die in another, especially while visiting family or friends or working someplace else. But something about it just isn’t sitting well with me. Thomas Putman lived on Park Avenue in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas when he died (see obituary). In fact, this land (he had 220 acres at the time) remained in the family up until the 60s or 70s I believe. And my great-grandmother, Louise Lasiter, lived down the street from this tract of land. Thomas’ death certificate says he died in Bloomer, Arkansas which is not too far from Fort Smith, just outside the city limits, about 20 miles away.  At that time, Fort Smith had about 30,000 people and Bloomer (population less than 1000 today) had maybe 20 families, if that, living there. So I’m not sure what Thomas would have been doing in Bloomer when his wife and children were living in Fort Smith. And I certainly don’t think there would have been any hospitals or doctors around in Bloomer, he would have gone back to Fort Smith to seek medical attention unless the town doctor came to the house he was staying in in Bloomer and tended to him there.
Other red flags about this death certificate include the name of Thomas’ father. My genealogy paper trail has Thomas’ father as Berry Barton Putman from Georgia. This is backed up with census reports listing a son by the name of Adolphus in Berry’s household. His death certificate says his father was William Putnam, also from Georgia.


The informant was also someone unknown to the family. It was a woman by the name of Georgia Card. I have not started looking for her yet. Thomas and Martha Putman had 4 daughters. One daughter named Rosalie, married James Lasiter and they had one son. Rosalie lived with her parents off and on when her son was young and they eventually moved a block down the road from Thomas and Martha. The oldest daughter, Nona Putman, never married and she lived in the home with Thomas and Martha until they died. Another daughter Annie married Aubrey Rhyne and they lived in the house after Thomas’ death with her mother Martha for a while and then I believe they eventually built a house on the same block. The youngest daughter, Pearl married Mr. Edward Fancher and they too remained on the block and eventually took ownership of the house and land where they stayed until the 70s when they sold the land. I guess if he really did die in Bloomer, maybe while visiting some family, then this Georgia Card might have been a distant relative.
Another discrepancy between the obituary and the death certificate lies within Thomas’ date of birth. His obituary says he was 73 years old when he died which would put his date of birth in 1845. His death certificate says he was 80 years old which would put his date of birth around 1838. The genealogy paper trail I have on him has his date of birth as April 26 1845 (headstone and county history book). The birth year of 1845 is supported by both the census reports with him living in the household of his father Berry Barton Putman and living as an adult.
When I presented these discrepancies on my Facebook page I got some feedback from fellow genealogist Michele Simmons Lewis of the Ask A Genealogist Blog who suggested that since the death certificate was not signed by the physician (and a date of removal/ burial was also not provided) that maybe the form was filled out by the physician’s assistant and he made the mistake on the date of death. So far, even with the obituary, headstone, death certificate, death index and census reports, it looks as if I need more evidence to confidently conclude that 1) the Thomas A Putman of the obituary of 22 November 1918 is the same man as the Thomas Adolphus Putnam of the death certificate of 27 Nov 1918 and 2) my 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Adolphus Putman died on the 21st of November 1918. It also looks as if I need to find out who this informant, Georgia Card is before I go any further. 
Here is the matrix I created to keep track of the information I gathered and where it came from. I can use it to get a glance of what sources had what information.

If you have any suggestions about the data I have presented here, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or email me at ginger.reney [at] gmail.com. Also, please check back often for updates to this post. I intend to follow up on who this Georgia Card was and why Thomas was in Bloomer when he died. I also need to find out if Thomas still owned the farm in Bloomer and if so, was he in Bloomer to check up on it or was he visiting relatives? When I looked back at my genie software to see where his siblings might have settled, I realized that I did not have any information on them. It would be prudent of me to track their whereabouts as well to see if any of them stayed behind in Bloomer or were maybe tending to Thomas' farm in his absence. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Samuel Watson Death Certificate


Missouri State Board of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Certificate of Death, File No. 24617a
Samuel Hansford WATSON
Date of birth unknown, born in TN
Died August 11th, 1925 in Moore Township, Oregon County, Missouri
He was about 75 years of age at time of death [b. abt 1850]
He was married to wife Tabitha Watson
He was a farmer
His father's name was Samuel Watson, birth date and place unknown
His mother's name, birthplace and date were unknown
His cause of death was unknown and there was no medical attendance
The informant was Tabitha Watson of Rover, Missouri
He was buried in Union Hill Cemetery, August 12th, 1925
His Neighbors were the undertakers
Death certificate was filed Dec 24th, 1925 by Mrs. A . O. Roberts, Registrar, of Thomasville, MO
---------------------------------------

Samuel Hansford Watson was my 3rd great-grandmother, Tabitha House Watson's 2nd husband. I am descended from Tabitha's first husband, Robert KING who died in 1876 according to Tabitha's obituary. Tabitha Watson outlived both of her husbands as you can see she was the informant on her husband's death certificate above. According to Samuel's headstone and Tabitha's obituary, Samuel Watson died August 10 (not the 11th as the certificate above states). It probably took Tabitha a day to get into town to inform the registrar of his death and that's the date that was recorded. 

Samuel Hansford Watson
born 5 Sept 1855 TN
died 10 Aug 1925, Thomasville, Oregon Co., MO
Married Tabitha House 16 Nov 1879, Highland Twp., Oregon Co., MO

The undertakers listed on Samuel's death certificate were "neighbors" so it seems as if he died at home and his neighbors buried him in the local cemetery (Union Hill). He must have died of natural causes or died in his sleep because no cause of death was noted on the death certificate. Surely Tabitha would have told the registrar had Samuel been sick and died resulting from an illness? 

I'm sure Samuel's children wrote an obituary up for him and posted it in the local newspaper. I would be interested to see what his obituary says. The one for his wife, Tabitha, was glowing with love and appreciation. I got the impression from talking with his descendants, that Samuel wasn't as well-liked. Check out his FindAGrave memorial page to see this growling photo of him...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tabitha Watson Death Certificate and Headstone - The Trouble With Dates


Missouri State Board of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Certificate of death, No. 13796
Tobetha Ann WATSON
Died 9 Feb 1937 in Birch Tree, Bartlett Township, Shannon County, Missouri 
[where she also resided]
Born 4 Mar 1846 in Missouri, aged 90 yrs, 11 mo, 5 days at time of death
She was widowed, but her husband's name was Samuel H Watson
Her Father's name was Hull House, and he was born in Missouri
Her Mother's name was Millie Thompson and her date and place of birth were unknown to the informant
The informant was Malinda Moore of Thomasville, MO
She was buried in Union Hill Cemetery on 10 Feb 1937 by John Duncan of Mt View, MO
Cause of death was "Senile Gangrene"
Death certificate was filed 10 Feb 1937 by R. J. Davis, M. D. of Birch Tree, MO 
(his name was also in the field of Registrar). 

I downloaded this death certificate from the Missouri Digital Heritage Site, online database of death certificates from 1910-1960 in March, 2012. It downloaded as a PDF and since I cannot import a PDF into a blog post, I took a screen shot and saved it as a JPG and uploaded the JPG to this blog post. It might be grainy or difficult to read. I have provided the transcript above. 

Tabitha/Tobetha (House) Watson was my 3rd great-grandmother. She was the daughter of Hollingsworth HOUSE and Millie THOMAS. The name on her death certificate for her mother Millie was incorrect as it should be THOMAS and not Thompson. 

There is some discrepancy about the spelling of Tabitha's name. Tabitha's headstone, obituary, and death certificate, all presumably created about the same time, each have a different spelling of her name and different birth and death dates as well! Malinda Moore was the informant on her death certificate. She was a daughter of Tabitha and Samuel Watson. 

Samuel Watson was Tabitha's 2nd husband. She was married 1st to Robert King, July 28, 1870 in Howell County, Missouri. I found their marriage record in the Howell County, MO marriage book. Robert King died in 1876 and Tabitha "King" remarried to Samuel Watson in 1879. I also found their marriage record as well. Samuel Watson preceded Tabitha in death as well in 1925. They were both buried side by side in Union Hill Cemetery in Oregon County, Missouri. Here is a photo of their headstone: 


I can't remember who sent me a copy of this headstone, and as you can see, it's not a very good quality scan and cannot be blown up. The photo on Tabitha's FindAGrave memorial page is a little bit better. According to the headstone, Tabitha died January 9th, 1938. This date is off quite a bit from her obituary and death certificate which both say she died February 9th, 1937! I wonder why there is such a discrepancy? 

If you would like to cite this article, please include the following: Ginger R Smith, "Tabitha Watson Death Certificate and Headstone - The Trouble With Dates," Genealogy by Ginger, posted 24 May 2012 (http://http://genealogybyginger.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Keeping Track of My 2nd Great-Grandparents


I have 8 sets of 2nd great-grandparents with a total of 16 individuals.

Paternal Line:
Set # 1: Claude Rual Smith (1896 - 1975) and Willie Harriet Riddle (1899 – 1985)
Set # 2: Fred Fox (1884 – 1974) and Melvina West (1882 – 1978)
Set # 3: John Milton Binns (1868 – 1961) and Perthinia “Pert” Eula Brooks (1873 – 1942)
Set # 4: Nathaniel Gustaves Hill (1873 – 1944) and Jessie Inez Barton (1875 – 1950)

Maternal Line:
Set # 1: Alvin Theodore Godwin (1879 – 1950) and Louella Davis (1882 – 1947)
Set # 2: William Edward Peters (1874 – 1948) and Dora King (1875 – 1912)
Set # 3: James Franklin Lasiter (1876 – 1968) and Rosalie Putman (1875 – 1961)
Set # 4: Barney Sheron Benson (1884 – 1952) and Eva Mae Dennis (1889 – 1983)

I was born in 1976. As you can see, two of my paternal 2nd great-grandfathers died 1 or 2 years before I was born and 2 of my paternal 2nd great-grandmothers lived to hold me in their arms (The obituary of one of my 2nd great-grandmothers, Willie Harriet Riddle Smith, mentioned that she had 18 2nd great-grandchildren!)

One of my maternal 2nd great-grandmothers lived to hold me. I wasn’t the only one though. She had several other 2nd great-grandchildren that she travelled around to visit with. Check out my 5-generation photos:

 Back Row: Sue Lasiter (my grandmother), Marilyn Godwin (my mother), Louise Benson Lasiter (my great-grandmother); Front: Eva Dennis Benson (my 2nd great-grandmother), Ginger R. Smith (me!). Taken March 1976, Fort Smith, Arkansas. From personal collection of Ginger R. Smith, inherited from Louise Lasiter. Copyright 2012. 


Back Row: Claude Rual Smith, Jr (my great-grandfather) and Willie Harriet Riddle Smith (my 2nd great-grandmother); Front: Tim D. Smith (my father), Ginger R. Smith (me), Darrel E. Smith (my grandfather). Taken 1976, Fort Smith, Arkansas. From personal collection of Ginger R. Smith, scanned from photo album of Barbara J. Smith, Copyright 2012. 

L to R: Reba Fox Smith (my great-grandmother), Ginger R. Smith (me),  Melvina West Fox (my 2nd great-grandmother), Tim D. Smith (my father), Darrel E. Smith. Taken March 1976, Fort Smith, Arkansas. From personal collection of Ginger R. Smith, scanned from photo album of Barbara J. Smith, Copyright 2012. 

Most all of my sets of 2nd great-grandparents lived in Arkansas with the exception of the Bensons. I’m pretty lucky because the Arkansas death certificates started about 1914. I can actually probably take my ancestry back another generation to 3rd or even 4th great-grandparents just by using death certificate research!

As I said in my last post about requesting death certificates from the Arkansas Department of Health, it can become quite addicting and difficult to keep up with all of the requests and processing of incoming certificates. I try to space them out. I have employed the following two tables to help me with my research. They track my progress in securing and processing death certificates and obituaries. From looking at these tables I can see from a glance what I am missing.

From the tables I have filled out below, I can see that I have the obituaries and death certificates of 8 of my 16 great-grandparents. I am half way there! The obituaries I obtained either from family members or from various newspapers. My cousin, Doris Hamblin Smith, sent me copies of a bunch of Smith family obituaries in 2010 before she passed away.

In order to understand what the headers Scanned?, Transcribed?, FTF Notes?, and FTF Source? refer to, you must first know my genealogy work flow:

1.       Scan and save obituary and death certificate as a PDF, TIF, and JPG file
2.       Transcribe and save to Word document or Notepad File
3.       Copy the Transcript to the notes file for that person in my genealogy software
4.       Enter the Birth, Death, Burial, Occupation, Marital, etc facts into my genealogy software, including the parents' names
5.       Create a source and attach to the Facts (some call these "Events")


Nos. 3 and 4 are included under the FTF Notes heading in the table. FTF stands for “Family Tree File.”

As I collect more obituaries and death certificates, I can  update this table. I already know which death certificate I plan to order next – that of Rosalie Putman. However, since 6 of the remaining 8 died in Arkansas, I can go ahead and order them all at once.

Dora King died in 1912 in Missouri. I have not found a death record for her yet, probably because she died before deaths were required to be recorded. Family stories say she died of a snake bite. I might be able to find a death notice for her in a local newspaper. But I've found this to be difficult; or at least time consuming when you don't know the month and day. 

Barney Benson died while visiting his son in California. I have not yet ordered a death certificate from California, so this will be my first experience.

Obituary Resources
Name
Scanned?
Transcribed?
FTF Notes?
FTF Source?
Claude Smith Sr
yes
yes
yes
yes
Willie Riddle
yes
yes
yes
yes
Fred Fox
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Melvina West
No
No
No
No
John M Binns
No
No
No
No
Eula Brooks
No
No
No
No
Gus Hill
No
No
No
No
Jessie Barton
No
No
No
No
Alvin Godwin
No
No
No
No
Louella Davis
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
William E Peters
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Dora King
No
No
No
No
James F Lasiter
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Rosalie Putman
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Barney Benson
No
No
No
No
Eva Dennis
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes


Death Certificates
Name
Scanned?
Transcribed?
FTF Notes?
FTF Source?
Claude Smith Sr
yes
yes
yes
yes
Willie Riddle
No
No
No
No
Fred Fox
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Melvina West
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
John M Binns
No
No
No
No
Eula Brooks
No
No
No
No
Gus Hill
No
No
No
No
Jessie Barton
No
No
No
No
Alvin Godwin
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Louella Davis
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
William E Peters
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Dora King
No
No
No
No
James F Lasiter
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Rosalie Putman
No
No
No
No
Barney Benson
No
No
No
No
Eva Dennis
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

How do you stay organized? Does your genealogy work flow look like mine? If not, how does it differ? How is it similar? I’m looking forward to hearing how other people process the obituaries and death certificates they receive. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How to Order Death Certificates from the State of Arkansas


Do you have ancestors who died in the State of Arkansas after 1914? If so, you can order a copy of their Death Certificate from the Arkansas Department of Health Vital Records Division.

All you have to do is print a copy of their Death Certificate Request form which can be downloaded here, fill it out, and sign it.

You must include a copy of your Driver's License with your completed application. I scanned my Driver's License and saved a copy to my computer and I print it off and include with every Death Certificate application I send off to Little Rock.

Then include a check for $10.00 (or more if you ordered more than one certificate). This fee is NON-REFUNDABLE, which means that if they do not find a death certificate for the person you are searching for, then they keep your $10.

FEMALES Be sure to include as much information as you can on the application. It won't hurt you. Also, be sure to include the woman's MARRIED name, which is what her death certificate would have been filed under. So you want to be sure you know how she lived the latter most part of her life before you order her death certificate.

In the field that asks what is the reason for requesting a copy of this certificate, I write "For genealogical purposes."

In the field that asks what is your relationship to the deceased, I give my exact relationship. Your genealogy software should be able to tell you this.

When ordering death certificates watch out for the varying nuances they might require. The State of Arkansas does require a copy of your photo ID like I mentioned above. But that does not mean that you have to be a resident of the State of Arkansas. Some states require you to include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) as well. The State of Arkansas does NOT require an SASE. The State of Oklahoma does require both an SASE and a copy of your Driver's License.

So far I have ordered the death certificates for 4 great-grandparents and have started working on my 2nd great-grandparents, most of whom died between 1940-1980 and 3 of whom were still alive after I was born. You can track my progress of securing death certificates of my great-grandparents in my July 2009 post here. I created two tables to keep track of the death certificates and obituaries and whether they were scanned, entered as notes into my genealogy software and added as sources as well. It helped me to create and stick to goals throughout the years. I hope to create a new set of tables for my set of sixteen 2nd great-grandparents.

I always keep copies of the completed request forms and save to the individual's surname folder. I also open a to-do item in my genealogy software which I update as I receive the certificate and process it.

Their website says to allow 4-6 weeks for receipt of the death certificate in the mail. However I have sent as many as 5 requests in the mail at one time and had them turn around in as little as 3 weeks.

Yes you can submit as many request forms as you want. I would put each request on a new form. But you can put them all in the same envelop and just write a check for $10 times the number of requests you send. Don't forget to include a copy of your Driver's Licence!

When I receive the death certificate in the mail, first I do the Happy Dance and then I show it off to everyone on Facebook

Then I process it:

  1. Scan and save as a PDF, TIF, and JPG file
  2. Transcribe and save to Word document or Notepad File
  3. Copy the Transcript to the notes file for that person in my genealogy software
  4. Enter the Birth, Death, Burial, Occupation, Marital, etc facts into my genealogy software, including the parents' names
  5. Create a source and attach to the Facts (some call these "Events")
Ordering death certificates can be addicting, so watch out. Please let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly at ginger dot reney at gmail dot com. Replace dot with a period like usual. 

Here are some links to the Arkansas death certificates I have collection on my family: 

(wow, it looks like I need to start uploading some of these...)


Other resources: 

Ancestry.com does have the Arkansas Death Index 1914-1950, but notice it only goes up to 1950.

If you have ancestors from Sebastian County, Arkansas, the Fort Smith Public Library also has an online death index. This is kind of a clunky system to use, so be patient and start with clicking on the search link in the upper left. Click to the right of where it says "Last Name." When using Google Chrome, a box doesn't show up until after I click in the empty space beside Last Name so it's kind of confusing at first.



Saturday, May 5, 2012

A little white lie?

I found a discrepancy in my ancestor, Alvin Theodore Godwin's date of birth. His draft registration card from 1918 says he was born 27 Jan 1878 in Mammoth Springs, Fulton County, Arkansas. His death certificate says he was born 27 Jan 1879 (a year later) in Saddle, Fulton County, Arkansas (which is about 13 miles south of Mammoth Springs). I'm not too worried about the location of his birth as much as the year.


Here is a cropped image of his draft registration card, dated 12 Sept 1918 in which he states his date of birth was 27 Jan 1878 and his age as 40. (Downloaded from Ancestry.com, 3 May 2012)




Here is a cropped image of Alvin Godwin's death certificate, stating his date of birth was 27 Jan 1879 and the informant's name of Alvis Bryson from Mammoth Springs, AR. (Downloaded from Missouri Digital Heritage Site "Missouri Death Certificates.") 

My first instinct is to believe the draft registration card because that is something that my ancestor actually filled out himself, or at least provided verbal information to the draft board about. He would know better than anyone (except his mother and other people who were present at the time he was born) when he was born.

I do not know who the informant of the death certificate was - Alvis Brysom. He could have been a son-in-law, someone who worked in the nursing home, or a friend. My inclination would be towards a family member because according to Alvin's death certificate, he lived in Mammoth Springs, AR which was over 200 miles from Springfield, MO.

However, upon second thought, when I looked at what Alvin's age would have been had he been born in either 1878 or 1879 in 1918, the time the draft board took his information, I found that he would have been 40 years of age if born in 1878 like he told the board or only 39 years of age if he had been born in 1879.

I do not know anything about the laws of the military from WWI, but I wondered if the age of 40 was significant? At least significant enough that he might have lied about his age and made himself one year older? Did he have a less chance of being drafted if he was 40 years of age or older?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mildred Alice Peter's Death Certificate


In last week’s Tombstone Tuesday Post I showed a photo of Mildred A Peter’s headstone that I took when I visited Missouri back in 2006. Her Find-A-Grave memorial said she died of whooping cough and referenced her death certificate as the source. I pulled her death certificate from the Missouri State Archives online death certificate website to see what else I could find out. She was only 1 month 6 days old when she died.  I believe she was Herbert and Emma Peters’ first child. How sad it must have been for them to lose a child at such a young age.


Missouri State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death No. 10958-1, filed in Oregon County, Missouri, which was also the place of death.

This is the only source so far I have seen providing Mildred’s middle name of “Alice.” Her parents were Herbert Peters, born in Thomasville, Missouri. Thomasville is a small community just north of Alton in Oregon County, Missouri. Her mother was Emma Dodd, born in Lawrence County, Arkansas which is just over the Missouri-Arkansas line.

Mildred Alice Peters was an infant born January 27th, 1931 in Thomasville, Oregon County, Missouri. She died in same of whooping cough on March 5, 1931. She was 1 month, 6 days old. Following death, she was buried March 6, 1931 in Joliff Cemetery, Thomasville, Missouri, by O B Bales. Her father, Herbert Peters, was the informant of this death.

If you have more information about this family, please feel free to email me at ginger (dot) reney (at) gmail (dot) com. Replace items in parenthesis with “.” and “@.” Or click on my name to open new email message to me: <a href="mailo:ginger.reney@gmail.com"> Ginger R. Smith </A>

To learn more information on this family, read my post: The Mystery of William Herbert Peters’ Birth. Herbert Peters was my great-grandmother's half-brother. He was born in Missouri, but eventually settled in Texas where he died in 1979.