Today’s mail brought another 20 or so birth/death certificates. I am thrilled to say the least. And, among them, I made a very interesting discovery.
My paternal great-grandmother’s name was Josephine. In her funeral program and on her death certficate, it stated that her mother’s name was Priscilla. In searching census records looking for Josephine as a child, the only black Josephine in Craven County, NC at anywhere near the right age was living in a household with a sister named Priscilla and a mother named Polly. So, I began to wonder as to the accuracy of the funeral program and the death certificate. From Josephine’s funeral program, I knew that she had a sister named Dizzer (what a name right?) Well, I received a copy of Dizzer’s delayed birth certificate today. On the birth certificate, her parents are listed at Tom Holloway and Pollie Hood. Furhtermore, one of her items of “evidence” to her birthdate was an affadavit from her older sister “Parcilla”. Looks like my suspicions were right! Priscilla (Parcilla) was not their mother, she was their sister and their mother was indeed Polly (Pollie). I can only surmise that at the time of Josephine’s death, the family must have misremembered her mother’s name. Tonite, I discovered a new generation of ancestors — my great-great grandparents Tom & Polly.
On my maternal side of the family, of significance so far are three death certificates I received. My mother’s mother’s mother (Mattie) had 10 children. Five that lived, five that died. My mother always heard about my grandmother’s siblings that never got a chance to grow up – they died as babies/toddlers. Two girls and one boy that we know of. I also know from one birth certificate that Mattie had a stillborn child. There is still one child unaccounted for, so we will have to ask my grandmother about that. I really cannot imagine what it must be like to lose half of children – -in reading their death certificates, I was just filled with sadness for this loss of life.
- Abraham Jr was 2 years old. He died of 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his arms and legs. My mother is not quite sure what happened, but she did remember that he somehow got hot water on him and this caused his burns.
- Daisy was almost two years old when she died. Cause of death appears to be Laryngeal Diptheria (hard to read on the certificate).
- Martha Jane had just turned one when she died. We can’t read the cause of death, but we know that one child passed away from an overdose of some medicine that people used to give children to sleep while they worked in the fields. Tragic to think that people resorted to this, but maybe this was her cause of death.
So sad. Also, a rather interesting thing I noticed, on each of their death certificates, the date of birth is slightly off from the date of birth on their birth certificates. For record purposes, I am going with the date of birth on their birth certificates since it was closer to the actual event, but I find it again striking how variable people’s birthdays seemed to be years ago. From census records, I have seen ages fluctuating quite widely between the 10 years and this is an interesting phenomenon to me. Were birthdays not as celebrated as they are now? I surmise that with the creation of state record keeping requirements, this has helped establish dates more concretely.