From the Ancestry
One Piece at a Time
Genealogists are always excited when a new record has been
located. Before the information is entered into a database and the copy
filed away, the details contained within the new document should be
analyzed to determine if:
Hastily researching without first comparing and contemplating may cause us to waste research time and money.
This week we look at a 1910 death certificate from Chicago, Illinois. Some of the information on this record is consistent with details already located and some of the facts are "new." Our integration of the new information into our database should not begin until we are as certain as we can be that the document's subject is the correct person. If the name of our focus individual had been more common (such as Thomas Smith instead of Thomas Frame) determining that we had the "right" person would have been more difficult.
In this case, the age, place of birth, residence, and occupation matched what was already known about this individual. Based upon these identifying factors, I was reasonably certain I had the "right" person. Our analysis of the record is done one piece at a time.
Additionally it is indicated that Thomas had lived at that address for twenty-five years. One should always take these lengths of time with a grain of salt, particularly when the time period ends in a "0" or a "5." It's been my experience that time spans such as twenty or thirty-five years are more likely to be estimates than are other periods such as thirty-eight years or seventeen years.
Even if the certificate is correct and Thomas never moved for the last twenty-five years of his life, his address did change during that time period. In 1909, there was a renumbering of Chicago addresses. A check of the Chicago Historical Society website (see the section on "Address Conversion Guides") and a post to the Cook County, Illinois, genealogy mailing list indicated the pre-change address was very likely 210 West 112 Place.
Geography Does Provide Clues
There is one additional clue from the length of Thomas's residence in that he likely owned the property. The 1910 census enumeration indicates the home is owned and not rented. Based upon this information, deeds for the property should be accessed at some point in the research process.
Length of Residence in the United States
Thomas's residence in the United States is listed as five years longer than his residence in Illinois indicating his initial settlement location was not Chicago. Census work on Thomas should begin with 1910 and proceed backwards before speculation is made regarding Thomas's original place of settlement in the United States.
The cemetery confirmed Thomas's burial date was actually 14 August 1910 and that Mrs. Thomas Frame was the lot owner. An Elizabeth Frame (also known as "Mrs. Thomas Frame") was buried on 31 December 1919 in the lot adjacent to Thomas. Locating Elizabeth's approximate death date via the cemetery made obtaining her death certificate much easier. Had the last name been more common, this method would have saved significant time (and perhaps expense) in locating Elizabeth's death certificate.
The age can also be checked the old fashioned way as well. Thomas was born on 21 April 1838. Adding 18 days, 3 months, and 72 years to 21 April 1838 results in the 39th day of July 1910. There are not 39 days in July. Consequently we are 8 days into the next month (August), bringing us to 8 August 1910. The fact that the age, date of birth, and date of death are consistent does not mean they are all correct. It just means that whoever did the calculation did that correctly. Thomas's date of birth could still be incorrect and will need to be confirmed with records in England.
The last thing I did was to construct a chronology for Thomas
based upon the information in his death certificate:
Hopefully I will be able to add to this chronology as my work on Thomas progresses.
Points worth remembering when a new record is located:
Michael John Neill is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry Magazine and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.rootdig.com/, but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.
Copyright 2004, MyFamily.com.Used by the author on his website with permission.
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