From the Ancestry
Separating Delayed Twins
This week, we go "beyond the index" in looking at three Chicago, Illinois, area birth certificates. This is an excellent example of where stopping at the index is a big mistake. The records analyzed this week can be viewed at www.rootdig.com/apgar/.
Our focus is on the children of William and Mary Apgar who married in Chicago in 1909. Their four children were all born in the Chicago area in the 1910s. Census, home sources, obituaries, and funeral cards provided the same names and relatively consistent years of birth for Lillian, Elizabeth, Anna and Louis. A search of the Cook County Birth Index for 1871 to 1916 (available from the Family History Library or through Family History Centers -- www.familysearch.org ) indicated the following entries:
Twins were news to me. Anna could not be located despite a prolonged series of searches using creative renderings of Apgar. Obtaining the original certificates was next on my list, hoping they would answer my questions. Unfortunately an initial reading of the certificates did nothing to alleviate my confusion.
Lillian's certificate (filed on 3 March 1931) indicates she was born on 2 March 1910. Elizabeth's certificate (filed on 5 March 1931) indicates she was born on 2 March 1910. The mother, Mary Apgar, is listed as the informant on both these records. The birth certificate for Louis was filed on 27 November 1914, five days after his birth on 22 November 1914.
Even though there was no certificate for Anna, she still fits in as the third child. At least the information provided on the certificates did not preclude the existence of an additional child, Anna.
The certificates raised several questions, which, like many genealogy problems, are intertwined and difficult to analyze separately.
The delayed certificate for the oldest child, Lillian is filed the day after her twenty-first birthday. This would have been the age at which Lillian became "of age." Perhaps the certificate was recorded to give Lillian proof of her age. The mother might have realized that Elizabeth also would need a certificate and so filed one for her shortly after Lillian's was recorded.
But Why None for Anna?
Are They Twins?
Primary or Secondary?
Mary would have been a primary witness to the births of all her own children. The one concern in this case is that the birth records of the two oldest girls were recorded twenty years after the event. Given this time lapse, it is easy to see how a mistake could occur.
On the birth certificates of the two oldest daughters, father William is 22 years of age. Mary is listed as 15 on Lillian's certificate and 16 on Elizabeth's. By 1931, Mary and William had been divorced for ten years and he had been out of the picture for some time. Mary's age on the certificates is consistent with her known year of birth and the year of birth for Lillian and Elizabeth from other records. Obviously if the girls were born on the same date, the mother's age should be the same on both certificates.
Classifying a record as primary does not mean it is always accurate. Sources that are primary can be inaccurate and sources that are not primary can be accurate.
Louis' birth certificate is filed in close proximity to his date of birth and could easily be classified as a primary source for his date and place of birth and the name of his parents. The place of birth is listed as 10057 State Street, also the residence of the mother. Other contemporary records on the family also indicate that they lived at this address. The attendant is listed as Mrs. McCasland (likely Elsie McCasland, sister of Mary Apgar). Not only is Louis the fourth child, but all four children are living after his birth, additional evidence to the existence of Anna.
Where is the Third Child?
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 2005, MyFamily.com. Used by the author on his website with permission
Michael John Neill's other genealogy how to articles