©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Monday, October 31, 2011

Never Stop Trying; Try Everything!

For years now, literally, I've been trying to find the death certificate for my husband's grandmother, Alice Augusta Christiansen Davey. She died 31 Dec 1948 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. It should have been easy. Her death notice was published in the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Tribune (Don't be deceived by the Larsen surname - that's her step-father's name and she was never legally adopted), and my mother-in-law confirmed the date; as well as, the inscription on the tombstone in the Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.

But, it wasn't easy. She wasn't listed under Davey or Davis or Davie or any of the spellings I could come up with. But today, because a link to the Cook County Death Index 1908-1988 on Ancestry was posted to the Illinois Genealogy Research Community on Skype by Robin of savingstories, I thought I'd try again.

This time I didn't put in a surname, just the death date; voila!, up came Alice Dayey. I don't think I would ever have tried that spelling but looking at it now it should have been one of my options:)

Now, the next time I'm in Springfield when the Illinois Archives is open, I'll be able to get a copy of the death certificate. Thanks, Robin, for giving me one more push. Never give up; never say can't!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cook County Archives Comes Through

On September 28th I posted about ordering a divorce file for Julia Rush and Peter Jacobson and yesterday I received the packet in the mail. There are dates flying all over the place but it looks like the final judgment of divorce was 4 Sep 1897.

First of all, this is most definitely our Julia. The two witnesses in the case, other than Julia, were Saloma Siebel (her mother) and Jennie Siegler (her aunt-in-law).

I was hoping this record would finally resolve the issue of Julia's twins and it did and more. According to the testimony Julia and Peter had three children, not just the twins. The children had all died before 23 Dec 1894 when Peter deserted Julia. Since Julia and Peter were married 01 Mar 1892, it gives me a small window to look for the records.

I still don't know the names or sex of the children but maybe I'll be able to find some records. A cursory look at Jacobsen/Jacobson births and deaths for those years has not been fruitful yet. I'll keep on looking though:)

Chase E Stewart Coroner Report

I thought I'd blogged about ordering this film but I must have just tweeted about it. Anyway, I've been trying to find a record of a coroner's report regarding the death of my Dad's brother, Chase, for some time. When I was in Rushville, Indiana on research I'd inquired about such reports but no one at the courthouse seemed to know how I might find them. Huumph!

I knew for a previous research trip the LDS church had been filming Rush County records (just happened to be there when they were there) so I decided to try the LDS catalogue to see if anything new had appeared. Lo and behold, there was a film for Coroner's Inquests from 1893-1932. Perhaps it was new or perhaps I'd missed it before, I don't know. All I know is it's exactly what I was looking for; Chase died in 1918, smack dab in the middle of the records.

I hopped on the phone and called my local Family History Center to make sure they'd be open when I went to place the order. I was told that wouldn't be possible. "We've been told we can't take any more orders for films; beginning tomorrow you'll have to order them on-line at Family Search." She sounded a bit skeptical; I, on the other hand, was thrilled. Anything that saves me a trip to Schaumburg is a good thing!

I waited a day or two before I braved the new procedure but found the ordering quite simple. The biggest problem was finding the right page as it's not accessible from the home page: here's the address. You will need to choose the Family History Center you want the films sent to and, of course, the film numbers. They accept credit cards and paypal.

I placed my order on September 21, 2011. On October 8, I received an email from the Schaumburg Family History Center stating that my film was there. I had to wait until yesterday to go because of the Columbus Day holiday but, at last, I had the film in hand and in a few minutes I was doing the happy dance!!

Most of the information I already knew from the newspaper report and family stories but, as usual, there were a few new tidbits to add. Here's a transcription of the record:

Rush County, Indiana Coroner’s Inquests,  1893-1932
LDS film 1631808, Items 4-5
# 106
I, John M Lee M.D. Coroner of said County do hereby certify that on
the 20th day of November 1918, at Mays, Indiana
I held an inquest on the body of Chase E. Stewart the following being the
report in full of the proceedings of said inquest, except the testimony, which is, with a full and complete report of this inquest
On file in the office of County Clerk
                Said inquest was begun on the 20th day of November 1918 and concluded
On the 20th day of November 1918

Charles S. Stewart
George C. Wyatt Co
Lowell Mansfield

J. Levi Lord M.D.

Vernon Walke



I, John M. Lee Coroner of said County, having examined the body
 of Chase E. Stewart and heard the testimony of the witnesses, do hereby
find that the said deceased came to his death by accidental discharge of one barrel
of double barreled shot gun which he was carrying and occurred when he was in the
act of climbing through a gap in the fence of the S. H. Trabue farm near Mays, Ind.
The wound resulting was complete shattering of left side of face and skull death occurring instantly.
The said deceased being a male of the age of 15 yrs. 2 mos. 8 da.: 5 feet and 8
inches in height, light hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, approximate weight 116 lb., teeth good;
scars, if any None; nativity American and had on his person at the time of his death no valuables except
a watch which was given to his parents at their house.

There is one new name in the witness list: Vernon Walke. Lowell Mansfield (Chase's cousin) had gone hunting with Chase that day but what about Vernon? From the 1910 census, I learned that Vernon (who would have been a neighbor of sorts) would have been 12 years old at the time of the accident. How did it happen he was called as a witness? He must have either been hunting with the boys or come upon the accident quickly. He was never mentioned in the newspaper accounts.

Mostly, for me, this account helps account for some of my Grandmother's (Lizzie Stewart) demeanor. How does one even recover from seeing your son in that condition? I don't think she ever really did.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Documenting Our Immediate Family

Sometimes one just has to put some concentration and effort on the now or, at least, the recent past. For years, I've been researching, reviewing, digitizing, organizing the papers and events of the more distant past. Oh, you might consider my parents and my dear husband's parents to be "recent" but I'm talking about our lives and our children's lives.

Over the years, we've taking tons, and I mean tons, of photos. Some, for me, are rather irrelevant - no people - but even eliminating those, we still have tons. Most of those have been categorized by year and, at least, some in each year have been labeled with names. Some, but not all, of our home movies have been transferred to new media - that's really my husband's job and hopefully he'll get back to it this winter.

So what has me concerned? It's the BOX: the one under the bed, the one that has many of the earliest photos and documents related to our little family. It has been haunting me so I pulled it out yesterday and decided it was time - past time - to do something.

Here's the plan: I'm going to scan everything and categorized by child and/or family group, then, I'm going to give each child her own stuff. These girls are mothers of grown children of their own. It's past time for them to have their childhood memorabilia. The family group items I'll put with the later pics and docs.

So, I started yesterday. I got out my new Flip-Pal and scanned close to 200 photos and a few papers. It's just a start but it felt good to get that far.

Sunday, we'll be having lunch with one of the daughters and I'll be giving her all the report cards I've saved since junior kindergarten and the few papers I kept. There will be more but I'm not going to wait until I get it all. They can have it in bits and pieces as I go along.

I'll have to make time to finish this project while keeping up with my writing projects but I'll do the best I can.