7 Replies Latest reply on Mar 12, 2020 3:17 PM by Desiree Williams

    Seeking 3d Great Grandfather's Death Records

    Desiree Williams Wayfarer

      My 3rd Great Grandfather is rumored to have died of TB in 1888. I cannot find any official death records, death index,  funeral home, church or Catholic regional church records. There is only the headstone in the family plot and a small newspaper clipping. He is shown in the 1880 census, his headstone inscription date of death is 19 Dec 1888.  The newspaper article states that his sister had the body transported from California to Wisconsin for burial.  Would there be rail road or transit logs?  If so, where would those logs be located? I am looking for his death records, medical records, transit logs, and any official listing of facilities offered to TB patients and families that chose to treat outside of the home. Any help is greatly appreciated!

        • Re: Seeking 3d Great Grandfather's Death Records
          Henry Rosenberg Tracker

          Was he in a sanitarium in California? Also, if you want help many of us find it easier if you give us the name and other relevant information you have. I am a volunteer transcriber and I can help more by searching by myself. I don't know all of the available resources and I have found you can waste a lot of time looking for the resource instead of just searching for the person. The experts may feel otherwise.


          Good luck,


          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: Seeking 3d Great Grandfather's Death Records
            Cinda Baxter CG Adventurer

            Hi Desiree,


            Transport records would have been held by two funeral homes—the one on the sending end, and the one on the receiving end. That said, those records were rarely kept for long periods of time, so the odds of finding either set of documents is minimal.


            Here’s the approach I suggest:


            1. Contact the cemetery to see if/where burial records are for 1888. Might have their own records...might be with the city or county...differs from cemetery to cemetery.


            2. Consult the records to identify the receiving funeral home.


            3. Contact the funeral home to ask if they have any documentation associated with your family member. Ideally, make contact by email, giving the director or staff member freedom to attend to their duties first, then address your request when available.


            If (and that’s a big “if”) they have paperwork, it should include information about the funeral home in California.


            4. If the California funeral home isn’t currently listed online, you may need to research its history, as if it were a person. Find out who owned it, search newspapers for articles about the business and its owners, and try to determine how/when it ceased to operate. Might have been a name change, a change of ownership, or a business that simply closed down. If the first two, track the records through new owners; if the third, try local historical/genealogical societies and the state historical society to see if any of their records were archived.


            Most important, keep your expectations in check. Finding transport documents is a long shot, but if they exist, there may be some valuable clues.


            Cinda Baxter, CG

            2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking 3d Great Grandfather's Death Records
              Lisha Penn Navigator

              Dear Ms. Williams,


              Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


              The State of California did not begin recording deaths of its residents until 1905. Please see Vital Records Obtaining Certified Copies of Death Records; and California Vital Records Genealogy websites for additional information. Please note that the practice of registering deaths in most states did not exist until the 20th century.


              We suggest that you review the National Institute of Health (NIH) Library website for research assistance about medical practices in the 1880s; and the California Railroad Museum Library & Archives website for additional information and/or resources. Although private railroad companies may have kept cargo manifests, the exact contents of the records and length of retention varied from company to company. You will need to know the name of the company that transported your ancestor’s body from California to Wisconsin in order to obtain records relevant to your research.


              You may wish to search the Wisconsin Historical Society About Our Cemetery Records Collections; Wisconsin State Law Library: Funerals / Burials / CemeteriesHow Southern California became the rehab capital of America; and History of tuberculosis websites for more information.

              We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

              1 person found this helpful