I contacted my client, told her of the 95% chance that I have found “our boy” and asked if she would like me to make a road trip. The first few words out of her mouth were, “Why aren’t you on the road already?!”
So I put on my deerstalker cap, grabbed my magnifying glass, and I headed to the courthouse five counties away. I marched up to the window and ordered a death certificate of this boy, figuring that if he was born in 1883, the chances were pretty good that he has died by 2012. To my surprise, they printed off the death certificate and I find he has a “new” wife and son, well at least their names are new to me, and the death certificate lists a cemetery name!
I turned to my husband who had accompanied me on this trip, exclaimed “The Game is Afoot” and then I was off and running. He laughed briefly, but soon found that it was all he could to keep up with me as I headed for the door. With fire in my eyes and my Smart Phone in my hand, I began searching for a map to the cemetery as we walked!
As he drove, I contacted the cemetery sexton by phone and asked him how to locate the plot. This gentleman knew exactly where our boy was buried and he gladly gave us directions. We arrived, parked by the flagpole off the west entrance, and start to head up the small hill. We apprehensively but anxiously approach the plot and there he was… right before our eyes, our boy! It was just like a magic trick… he vanished in 1910,died in 1945 and was found in 2012!
I selected some tools from my “Graving Bag” and cleaned the moss that covered his stone and removed debris from the engraving. Sure enough, we had found “our” boy, even though he was no longer using his “proper” given name, but a common nickname..
I looked at my husband and told him “This boy may have run away, but he couldn’t hide.” Of course, he may not have not run away, and he may not have been hiding either. There are two sides to each story, but we may never know the complete story of how they met and why they divorced, since they both took their stories to the grave.
The boy’s family, who started to write this book, had looked for him unsuccessfully for years by using the “front door” method of looking up obituaries online and ordering from the big town newspapers before they contacted me. As I discovered, local small town newspapers sometimes lets you in the “back door” and have much more of a story to tell you.
So, do keep looking high and low, and remember that when you see those two special words “Survived By …” you should read more carefully, for that can make all the difference in your hunting.
We not only found this boy because of those two words in his son’s obituary in a local newspaper, but we also found another wife and child to hunt for!
But, that is another story.
– Genealogy Huntress
Below is a photo of the ‘distraught widow’ and her son – OR – does that snicker say “I know something you don’t know”? We may never know!