At the beginning of last summer, I discussed how to overcome a “brickwall” in your genealogy research. (See column “Brickwalls and Pruning the Problem” for June 15, 2000 - http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-046.htm) I used the example to attempting to find the complete date of birth and death for my great-aunt, Alta Mae Shuffield Northcutt Raesner.
The problem was her sister nor her sister-in-law, who are the only living relatives of her generation, did not know her full dates of birth or death and her gravemarker only listed the years of birth and death.
My solution for finding her full date of birth was to search the School Census Records on microfilm at the Texas State Library in Austin. I ordered the microfilm through inter-library loan for the years 1915 through 1923 when she would have been approximately 7 to 15 years of age. After my local library received the microfilm, I was able to search and locate her name and date of birth of April 8, 1908.
To check what County Records are available on microfilm through inter-library loan from the Texas State Library go to: http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/local/index.html.
My solution to find her full date of death was to read the newspapers for 1933. I had been unable to find a death certificate for her. I read all of the Houston Chronicle, Houston Post, Cameron Herald and Rockdale Reporter newspapers for 1933. I did not find the obituary had given up!
But one evening a few weeks ago I was leaving work and going to do some Christmas shopping, or so I thought. As I pulled out of the parking lot, it hit me to go to the library and read the Houston Press newspaper and the date February 15th popped into my head. I tried to reason with myself that this was another wild goose chase but I knew in my heart I’d find that obituary that very night. So, I turned the car towards the library instead of the mall. It was just one of those feelings that this is going to happen right now, tonight. After searching for over 20 years for this particular date, I knew right then and there I was going to find it.
I had the librarian pull the Houston Press microfilm for February 1933. I scanned ahead to February 15th and began reading. On February 21, 1933 I found her obituary! The reason I had not been able to locate a death certificate was because her married surname (Reasener) on the gravemarker was not spelled the same as her married surname (Raesner) in the obituary. I went to the death index and there, under the spelling of Raesner and found her death certificate number. The next day, a friend in Austin got a copy of her death certificate and this family mystery was finally solved.
Was this instinct? Was this my great-aunt, who I never met, telling me how to find her? Was it just the right time to finally find the answers to my searching? In my genealogical research, I have always relied on instincts when in doubt of a connection. They have always pay off. Remember, it is important to listen to that inner voice.
If you need help with Latin words or phrases in old documents, I suggest you try the “Latin Dictionary” at: http://lysy2.archives.nd.edu/cgi-bin/words.exe that contains approximately 27,000 words. You input the Latin word into the search engine and it will give you the appropriate translation.
In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.
Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This webpage was last created on 25 Jan 2001 and was last revised on 25 Jan 2001
Copyright © 1999, 2001 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604