Saturday, December 26, 2015

Another Find Where It Shouldn't Have Been!

Okay - here we go again!  I found the missing information in a place that that was not anywhere close to where the ancestor had lived but ironically, was only 5 minutes from where I work. 
Earlier this month I blogged about the importance of revisiting places previously checked as sometimes the needed information becomes available due to persistence.  You can read that blog here – Why Persistence Pays in Hunting Records.
That blog was about my difficulty in obtaining a death records for my husband’s maternal great grandmother, Louise Carlson Johnson.  I had a death year (1937) given to me by his mother but no proof of death.  Previously, I had written to Lake County, Indiana where I assumed she had died, for a death certificate.  They told me they didn’t have one.  I then contacted the Gary Health Department thinking they may have some record but they said they had nothing on Louise.  I contacted both hospitals in existence in Gary at the time of her death – Methodist Hospital (the Protestant hospital) and Mary Mercy (the Roman Catholic Hospital) but they couldn’t help me.  I checked both hospitals because many of our Protestant relatives used Mercy Hospital as they had a very good staff back in the day.  And seriously, when you’re in pain who cares who helps you! 
After discovering that Louise was buried in Ridgelawn Cemetery in Lake County, Indiana I decided to write to Indianapolis (for my non US readers – that’s the capitol of Indiana) to see if they had the death record.  Maybe it had been sent from the local to the state level.  I received the response via snail mail on December 22– no record found.  Geez!
The cemetery didn’t seem to be the kind of place that makes any exception to rules (see Ashes on the Doorstep for those places that do!) so I believe the death certificate was presented for burial.  With that thought in mind I decided there was only two reasons that there was no death certificate in Lake County:  1) she had remarried and her name was no longer Johnson or 2) she died somewhere besides Lake County.
I checked Ancestry.com for City Directory information for Gary for 1937 and found her residing with one of her married daughters.  Her name was still Johnson and she was listed as a widow.  I wasn’t exactly sure when the City Directory was published but the chance of her marrying in the few months after it was published and before her death was remote as she had been a widow for 31 years.  That meant she must have died out of the county.
Louise had 3 children – all married in 1937.  She resided with daughter Elsie in Gary.  Daughter Ruth lived nearby.  Daughter Helen, however, was living in Porter County – the county next to Lake.  Louise also had 10 step children and although I’ve been unable to trace many of them, some were also living in Porter County.  From letters that I have it didn’t appear that Louise was close to most of the step children but the possibility existed that she may have been visiting one when she passed away.  Porter County seemed the most viable place to look.
Searching online I could find no database for Porter County deaths.  I had previously checked newspaper archives for the Vidette Messenger, the Valparaiso (Porter County seat) newspaper but found no obituary.  I had also checked for an obituary in the Gary paper, The Post Tribune, previously but was unable to find a paper from that year as the paper had been sold a number of times and some years are missing in the archives.  Of course, 1937 was one of those years!
I went to familysearch.org to check their catalog and discovered a book that might be helpful - Index to death records, Porter County, Indiana, 1931-1959Right place, right years – could be helpful. 
Checked Worldcat and found a copy locally so Wednesday morning I called the Genealogy Department at the Tampa Public Library and David not only found the book on the shelf, he did a lookup for me.  Happy Holiday to me!  Sure enough, Louise Johnson was listed in May 1937.  Now I know where I can write for the death certificate! 
Louise is the only recent relative that I don’t have parent information for so hopefully, the death certificate will give me a clue or two.  Also, her dna is very interesting so I’d really like to find out more about her line.
Due to holiday closures David volunteered to scan and email the page to me.  I attached it to the death certificate request to expedite it.  Like the song says, “waiting is the hardest part!”
After I put the death certificate request in the mail I decided to just recheck newspaper archives and what wonders did I behold!  Some kind folks have entered the obituary information for the Gary Post Tribune and now 1937 is available!  I immediately requested a librarian to look it up.  Keeping my fingers crossed that my youngest brick wall is about to be scaled.  

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