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Ancestral Death Records: Part 2

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013, at 1:44 PM

This is a continuation of last week's column, which was just too long for one issue. If you missed Part 1, just drop Ms. Sylvia, The Modern News, or The Poinsett County Democrat Tribune a note, and we will be happy to help you obtain a copy to you. There may be a cost for copies.

11. It was (and is) customary in some areas to prepare formal death notices that are sent to family and close friends. You might be lucky to find a copy in old family papers.

12. Many families kept a family Bible in which they recorded the vital events in the lives of their members. These may still be in the possession of a relative, library, or in a local archives.

13. Family correspondence/family papers would be likely to include information on a death. Don't neglect to check the records of relatives and friends, especially in-laws, for this type of information.

14. Diaries and journals folks like family, relatives, friends, and neighbors can be valuable sources. Many of these turn up in local libraries and archives if they leave the family.

15. If your ancestor worked for a large company or was a member of a club or association, there is a chance that the death would be reported in their newsletter.

16. There is a very good chance that scrapbooks from the time and place of your ancestor's death will have some record of it.

17. Coffin plates were popular at one time. These would be engraved with the name of the deceased and the years of birth and death. Although attached to the coffin, they were often removed prior to burial and can be found among family heirlooms.

18. Wills and probates are in the public domain and provide good family history information. They are usually kept at the county level judiciary but in some jurisdictions are turned over to provincial/state archives after a specified number of years.

19. If your ancestor had life insurance either through a regular insurance company or through a fraternal organization like the Knights of Columbus, the insurance carrier will likely have voluminous insurance records that may be difficult to plough through, but may well have that elusive piece of information that you are looking for.

20. Land transfer records will have to note the change of ownership of the land in the event of a death and they will often have a coy of the instrument of transfer (will, etc.)

21. If your ancestor died in a military conflict or was judicially executed, there is sure to be official record of this fact.

22. Don't neglect local histories, they are usually full of pearls and the histories of some churches may well have the information you are looking for. The Jonesboro/Craighead County Public Library in Jonesboro has several file cabinets with individual families histories stored for public use and may also be scan or copied.

23. Your local archives may have papers for the local cabinetmakers, wood shops or general stores, they may well included the ledger entry for your ancestor's coffin and information about the family member.

24. Other indicators of a person's death can be disappearance from censuses, poll books, assessment books, voters' lists and a host of other documents that tried to keep track of the population. This may only mean that they moved but it should be followed up.

25. Military Records -- if you are a veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran, you may now use vetrecs.archives.gov to order a copy of your military records. For all others, your request is best made using a Standard Form 180. It includes complete instructions for preparing and submitting requests. Please note: All requests must be in writing, signed and mailed to: National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63138 location: in suburban North St. Louis County, near the intersection of U.S. 367 and Interstate 270. From Lambert St. Louis International Airport, take 1-270 East, exit left onto Bellefontaine Road, and take the first left onto Dunn Road. The NPRC will be on your right, at 1 Archives Drive. The Guard at the gate will provide further information about parking and building entry. The Research Rooms are located on the first floor. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. (Closed weekends and Federal holidays). Telephone 314-801-0800; E-mail: MPR.center@nara.gov Status Check: mpr.status@nara.gov; Fax: 314-801-9195.

There are many websites that are designed to support this kind of research. Several of the broad based ones may be useful. One site that has thousands of lines to on line obituaries, cemetery inscriptions, and death notices; http://www.obitcentral.com/ and www.findagrave.com lets you search over 6.1 million grave records; http://www.interment.net/ has over 5.2 million records on line; www.ancestorsatrest.com/ is a site that brings together many different types of death records, again these are all tools to be used to help you locate information about your relative, that may or may not have sources to back up the information.

This column is provided weekly. By subscriptions to the newspapers (The Modern News or The Poinsett County Democrat Tribune -- Trumann). (Special Columns: Trips to the National Archives, Salt Lake City "The World of Genealogy" -- The Jonesboro Sun -- not a weekly column). You can obtain copies as they become available each week. Periodically, I have published an index in book form, but copies are limited.

I welcome comments, queries, and suggestions at: poinsetthhs@yahoo.com attn: Ms. Sylvia.

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