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!