Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Death and Distress

My grandmother was old enough to remember the day her father did not come home. The  circumstances of his death were told to me many years later by my father. His grandfather had become ill at work and died.

For the over twenty years I have been researching our family that was the only accounting of his death I had; no obituary or burial record. 

He appeared in the 1880 census as married with five children and working for the railroad. 

His date of death was recorded on the marriage license application of his wife at the time of her second marriage. Now mind you I had read the microfilm of the local newspaper  published during the time period of his death, November 1891. And what did I find? Nothing. 

The census record and the application were the sum total of the sources in my family tree. Until now that is. And suddenly there it was. Just not where it was supposed to be.

But there it was. In the local paper --- the previous year. Yes, he died in November of 1890; not 1891.

It seems the clerk who completed the marriage license application got it wrong and my great grandmother may not have looked it over before signing. Or perhaps she gave the wrong date. 

There is was. Not an obituary. Not a burial record. Rather it was an article entitled Death and Distress. And it gave the report of my great grandfather's death in support of the family story I had received from my father so long ago.

How did I make that discovery? I didn't. Corroberation is a good thing.

A few years ago a distant half cousin and myself found each other through the miracle of the internet and exchanged a few records. That was that until a couple of years ago when she contacted me again to say she wanted to put together a published family history and would I help her with the research. Of course I would, and the fun began.

Together we have made some great finds and while I wasn't surprised to receive a call from her a few days ago; I was however pleasantly surprised by what she had found. 

Not only did it support the family story it also revealed additional information of the precarious family situation surrounding his death.

My grandmother was one of the younger children who had not contracted the fever but . . . as the opening line of this post says. . . My Grandmother Was Old Enough to remember the day her father did not come home.


  1. Collaborating with cousins--a wonderful way to add to your family history, and have fresh eyes on a puzzle. Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. I often say its the jigsaw puzzle aspect of the search that keeps me going. On to the next piece.