Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beware of information on Death Certificates


Before I write about Death Certificates I need to mention the last post. In transcribing the newspaper article about the  marriage between Charles Moench and Maria (Rie) Hepworth one word was hard to read and I thought the word had a ‘qu’ in it. I interpreted it as inquiry and it obviously was the wrong word because the sentence didn't make sense.   The word inquiry should read usually (I think) so it should read like this: 
 The illness of Miss Hepworth up to the time of the ceremony, forbade the assembling of so large a company as Mr. Hepworth's hospitable mansion usually welcomes.   

It was a friend who helped me with a better interpretation.  Thank You My Friend Margie.  Did anyone notice that odd word besides me?                 

  Death Certificates will generally have the accurate date and place of death but, it can go downhill from there.  It all depends on who the informant is and what kind of state they are in; often they are in a state of shock and grieving.    Often if the informant is a wife or husband they may not know what the maiden name of the mother-in-law or even where she was born and will guess.  That information will put you on the wrong path in a hurry. Always research such information to be sure of the maiden name and place of birth of the mother-in-law.  
In the above examples are death certificates of a brother and sister who never married and the information was given by an aunt and a brother-in-law. 

The top certificate is of John Paul Donahue the son of Patrick John Donahue and Mary Ann 'Mollie' Hepworth.  He died 7 June 1929 CORRECT  His birth date is given as 21 March 1891 which is not correct because his mother 'Mollie' died in January of 1891.  John was born on 21 March 1887 in Butte, Montana and not Salt Lake City.  The place given is the correct place.  The informant was his Aunt Sara Hepworth signed as Mrs. S. H. Carthey.  Age at the time of death is recorded as 38 years 2 months and 16 days.  He was really 42 years 2 months and 16 days.   

The next certificate is a sister of John Paul, Mary Frances Donahue.   She died on Christmas Day 25 December 1941.CORRECT  Her birthdate is recorded as 28 September 1892 born in Salt Lake City and again this year is after her mother 'Mollie' died in January 1891.  I believe (and I am sure) she was also born in Butte, Montana on 28 March 1888.
So instead of being 49 years old as stated on her death certificate she was 56 years old 2 months and 27 days.  The informant was the husband of her sister Florence, R.H.Biele. 

Florence Alice the oldest of the Donahue children, she did marry and lived to be much older than her siblings.  Florence married Ray Henry Biele in Salt Lake City on 30 April 1913.  She was born 26 December 1885 and died at the age of 8o just short of her 81st. birthday. 

So be aware when using death certificates and tombstones inscriptions as they cannot be treated as absolute fact.  Everything is true somewhat but the more evidence you can gather, the more confidence you can have that you are right.  



Renée
  

  

2 comments:

Maddison Capri said...

Interesting! I often wonder if this happens a lot because when I index I see a lot of families that are foreign to the plane or boat they are traveling on or they have very large families with many extended family members.

Renée TOMLINSON PETERSEN said...

Thanks for commenting Maddi. In doing personal research on ancestors you did not personally know it is best to find as many records as you can to come to a correct conclusion. One vital record is not ok, two records found is better but, three or more is best.
Grandmother 'R'