News From Terre Haute, Indiana

History

December 9, 2012

GENEALOGY: Funeral home records valuable to genealogists

TERRE HAUTE — One of a genealogist’s most valuable resources to help identify a date of death is the mortuary or funeral home record. These records often pre-date state laws requiring the recording of deaths by the counties, and therefore could be the only source of a death date that you will find for an ancestor.

Early morticians’ records vary in the amount of information that they contain. Some list only minimal facts, such as a name and date of death or burial. However, some early mortuaries did collect additional information on the decedent. You could find the person’s age at death, where buried, cause of death, marital status, surviving spouse’s name, name of the informant, and even funeral costs.

Later records of funeral homes are likely to contain much more information on the decedent because the undertaker’s role expanded to include obtaining the facts necessary to compile both the death certificate and the newspaper obituary notice. On more modern records you will likely find the person’s date and place of birth as well as death, the parents’ names, names of other survivors, occupation, military service, affiliation with churches, fraternal, and community organizations, and specific burial information.

Always remember that the information in the records is as good as the memory of the informant. If the informant was a close family member, it is likely to be more correct than if a doctor, neighbor, or distant relative provided the information. However, grieving spouses and children were sometimes in shock and didn’t get all the facts straight when questioned about the decedent.

To locate the mortuary record of a family member, first find out where the death occurred. Next, find out the names of the mortuaries in existence in the community when and where your ancestor died. It then requires some detective work to locate the records of that mortuary.

If your ancestor was buried by an existing funeral home that has been owned by a single family and never changed hands, the current funeral director will probably have the early records. But some mortuaries went out of business and no longer exist today. Sometimes the past owner donated the records to a local library or historical society, but sometimes the records were kept in the owner’s family. Over the years, the records could have been lost or destroyed, but occasionally you can find a private owner who makes the records available to the public out of his home.

Some mortuaries changed names and ownership over the years. When a funeral home was sold to another owner, the records might have remained with the funeral home under the new ownership, they could have been kept by the previous owner, or they could have been donated or deposited somewhere else.

The records of the following funeral homes are available in the Vigo County Public Library: the Gillis Funeral Home, Rhyan & Goodman, early DeBaun records, the Ryan Funeral Home, all located in Terre Haute; the Rogerson Funeral Home of West Terre Haute; and the Sherfey & Kidd Funeral Home of Centerpoint.

• • •

FamilyChronicle is offering a special rate on its new release, Searching for Your Female Ancestors, which comes out Jan. 1. The volume features Working Women, Women in the Military, African American Female Ancestors, Grandma Was an Alien, Female Ancestors Pre-1850, Women in the Civil War, Women and Divorce, Women and the Vote, Secret Lives of Women, Online Resources, Manuscript Collections Overview, Women’s Clubs and Organizations, and Women in Photography. For more information or to order, visit www.

familychronicle.com/Tracing_Female_2013.htm, or call 888-326-2476
.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
History
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later New Tactic Deployed in Search for Plane Scott Brown Announces Run for U.S. Senate in N.H Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Police: Blast in Nigerian Capital Kills 71
NDN Video
8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Toddler climbs into vending machine Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series VP Biden: "World witnesses ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things" It's Official! Michael Strahan Joins "GMA" Blood Moon Time-lapse Actress Lake Bell Goes Topless The Five Weirdest Local Taxes in America Applicants Vying for 'World's Toughest Job' Get Heartwarming Surprise Awkward: Crist catches Lt. Gov. insulting him on camera NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse US Airways Tweets Graphic Photo of Nude Woman Behind the scenes of the Marathon anniversary photo shoot American Airlines Responds After Girl Tweets Alleged Terror Threat 'Joke' Charlie White's "Dancing" Mistake Olympic Great & Baltimore Native Michael Phelps Ends Retirement; Eyes Rio 2014 NFL Draft: Potential Booms And Busts William and Kate Squash Baby No. 2 Rumors With a Wine-Tasting Trip Who Showed Up at Coachella?
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity