Sunday, January 20, 2019

More Iowa Death Certificates

Be sure to sign up for email updates from! While I don't receive these every month like I would expect, when I do receive them, they almost always pay off. The email I received this morning definitely did. Included in this month's update was the fact that they added new indexed records to their collection of Iowa death records. I've searched this collection previously but since they said there were updated indexed records, I thought it couldn't hurt to do another search. I entered just the surname of "Panther". This resulted in a large number of records, as I expected. I then stepped through each one, verifying I had the death certificate for each one listed.

 When I saw an entry for Ferdinand Panther, this confirmed for me that new records had been added. Ferdinand was the brother of my great-grandfather and I never had his death certificate before. I downloaded this certificate and verified I didn't already have it.

Ferdinand's death certificate says he died of senility, which was likely what today we call Alzheimer's disease. It also lists his father's name as Morris, which was confirmed with the discovery of the family's origin in Moesbach, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany. The church records of the village show that his father's name was Moriz, which would be the German way of spelling the American name Morris.

Then, I saw the pièce de résistance in this collection. It was indexed as the death record for Aloysius Panther and I saw the death date in the year 1909, which I knew was close to the death year of my great-grandfather. I clicked the link and here is what I saw:

My great-grandfather's death record in all it's glory. In all my years of genealogical research, I had never found any documentary evidence of my great-grandfather's death besides his headstone, which was made many years after his death. I knew his headstone, which he shared with his two wives, Monica Hanle, who he married in Germany and who died five years after their arrival in America, and Elizabeth Dunzinger, who he married after Monica's death, had incorrect information, specifically the death date of Elizabeth. So it came as no surprise that the death date it showed for Alois was also incorrect. 

The headstone shows that he died on June 6, 1908 but his death certificate shows that he died on May 6, 1909. Eleven months after the date engraved on the headstone! It's funny that both Aloys' and Elizabeth's death date on their headstone is about one year off from their actual death dates. Aloys shows one year before he actually died and Elizabeth's shows one year after her actual death date.

In addition, it clarifies a bit of information I had. Somewhere in my research, back before I was doing it correctly and documenting where I found my information, I had logged that Aloys had died in Mount Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. With the discovery of his death certificate, we see that he died in Dodgeville, Des Moines County, Iowa, where he lived. It confirmed his father's name as Morris, like Ferdinand's did but it also includes his mother's maiden name, spelled as "Berrieck". We confirmed that his mother's name was Elizabeth Birk, sometimes spelled as "Bürk". The spelling of names prior to modern times should always be taken with a grain of salt. There was not typically one single way to spell any name, given or surname. If the pronunciation is approximately correct, you probably have the correct person. Given everything else about this document, I am very sure this is correct. Especially since the person giving this information, Alois' oldest son, was three years old when they made the voyage to America, and had never met his grandmother, who died before he was born.

I had been becoming frustrated recently in my genealogical research. I have not been able to find anything lately. It sure feels good to actually find something significant once in a while!


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