I love a mystery

I think one of the reasons I enjoy genealogy research so much is that it makes me feel like a detective. The mysteries can be frustrating, but solving them is oh so satisfying.

Today’s mystery: the death date of my great, great grandmother, Antoinette Garlock Brown. I thought I had it nailed. She died in Missouri in 1922, so I had easy access to her death certificate. (In fact, I blogged about finding her death certificate in a blog post called Those Darn Nicknames.) The hand-written death certificate lists January 9, 1922 as her date of death. The filing date is listed as January 11, 1922. It didn’t seem ambiguous to me.

Today, I found a photograph of her headstone at Find A Grave. It clearly states her date of death as February 9, 1922. It’s etched in stone, so it feels very official. I also have a yellowed newspaper clipping of her obituary, which was found among my grandmother’s belongings after she passed away. It, too, lists her date of death as February 9. Unfortunately, that clipping doesn’t show the date of the newspaper nor the name of the newspaper.

When I squinted harder at the death certificate, it started to become a little more equivocal. It looks like the undertaker wrote the bulk of the information, but the medical examiner is the one who filled in the dates. Under age, the undertaker wrote 66 years, 5 months, 26 days. Since she was born August 13, 1855, that would make her death date February 9. Is it possible that the medical examiner got his months mixed up and no one noticed?

I spent some time trying to locate any other record of her death, so far to no avail. I searched for an obituary to try to get a newspaper date (if that obit appeared in January, clearly it would be wrong). It’s hard for me to imagine that both the obituary and the headstone are wrong. But it’s also hard to imagine the medical examiner not knowing what month it is.

I’m bound and determined to solve this mystery. I can’t wait to find out what the answer (and perhaps explanation) is. And when I do I’ll report it here!


  1. Jerry Brown says:

    Two things from her bible.
    Copy of a large single sheet with “Antionette Catalina Garlock Brown Marys Grandmother” handwritten
    The paper is a printed page showing weeping angels and poetry with typed information in a center block. It reads from top to bottom:


    The Golden Gates were opened wide
    A Gentle Voice said “Come!”
    And Angles from the other Side
    Welcomed our loved one home.

    Born Aug. 13, 1856
    Died Feb. 9, 1922
    Age 66 yrs. 5 mos. 26 D

    “Nettie C. Garlock
    Nettie C. Garlock was born in Bluegrass, Scott County, Iowa, Aug. 13, 1855, where she resided with her parents until Oct. 6, 1875, when she was married to N. P. Brown of Center Grove, Iowa, at which place they made their residence for six years. In the spring of 1881 they moved to the vicinity of Carleton, Nebr., and bought the farm upon the north line of Thayer county where they lived for a number of years. This was the birth place of several of their children.

    Mrs. Brown was among the faithful toilers who helped to make it possible to build the Summit M. E. Church. Later she and the family removed to the village of Carleton, and remained here and in the vicinity for 39 years. In the spring of 1920 they removed to Schell City, Missouri, where they were living at the time of her death, Feb. 9, 1922. She was the mother of seven children, Mrs. Etta Dobson, and Roy Brown, of Schell City, Mo., A. J. Brown of Rockville, Mo., Mrs. Annie Dyer of Thorp, Wash., Isaac N. Brown of Carleton Nebr., Mrs. Mable Fullenweider of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Ora C. Brown of Walker, Mo. All are here except Mrs. Dobson and Dyer. Beside bringing up her own children, she reared two children of her sister’s and a niece of Mr. Brown, Mrs. Ida Stickel who is also here. All these, together with her husband, two brothers and a sister and a multitude of friends, are left to remember her many virtues and mourn her loss.

    …..years while she lived in Carleton, she had the care of her father and mother, the former blind, the latter paralyzed, also an aunt who was paralyzed and with her for along time. All three passed away, one after another, at the home of Mrs. Brown.

    She was faithful member of M. E. Church for more than 35 year; was Superintendent of the Junior League for several years; being a lover of children, she made a striking success of that work. She was the faithful and efficient President of the Ladies Aid Society of Carleton for ten years, and made every sacrifice to make its work successful.

    She was a Charter Member of Grace Lodge, No. 47, Degree of Honor, which was organized Mar. 30, 1893, in which she held many office of trust, and was a member of that Order until her death.

    In Carleton she was best known as a friend in need to any one; no matter who, nor what they needed, she always did her best and utmost.”

    “In Loving Remembrance”

    • Jerry, thank you!! That’s the same obituary I have…any chance that your copy has a newspaper name or date on it?

      It seems that February 9 is the true date. I appreciate your adding additional evidence. Perhaps it was just simple human error on the part of the medical examiner.

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