Thursday, March 15, 2012

Valuable Information Can Be Found on Death Certificate, Part I

Death certificates provide a great deal of information for family history researchers besides cause of death (COD), although COD itself can sometimes be quite interesting.  I once pulled a death certificate for a client where a widowed farmer in his late-70s was thrown against a barn and then trampled to death by a bull. According to his obituary1, his badly crushed body was found by his sister.  The farmer had been driving cattle into her farmyard. 

For family history researchers, other data fields on a death certificate provide the information they’re most interested in. COD, place of death and date of death are provided by the coroner; a source and information you can trust. Place of death and date of death can lead you to an obituary, which may give you additional information that will be discussed in a later blog.

Often, the name of the cemetery or the name of the town where the burial took place is also on the death certificate.  Again, information you can usually trust. Check to see if a photo of the deceased’s gravesite is on the website, or if any other family members are buried in the same cemetery.  Sometimes county websites will include local cemetery maps and burial listings, in case you’re interested in visiting or taking a photo of your ancestor’s gravesite.

Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.

For more information on my Family History Research services, visit and click on “Family History Research.”

1Cannon Falls Beacon; “Florence Township Resident Killed by a Bull”; Nov. 7, 1941; Front page.