Thursday, July 2, 2015


Make sure you check every entry on the pages of records you find.

HERE'S WHY.......
I was reviewing the PRATT section of our family today.  I noticed that I didn’t have a death record image for a death that occurred in 1888 in Michigan.  I had the index information, but not the image.

I know the images are available on Family Search in the Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897 database.  I located the record right away.

Here is page 1 showing Mary Sumner nee Pratt who died 21 Apr 1888.  Notice she uses “P” as her middle initial.  It was and still is common for women to use their maiden name or the first initial of that name for a middle initial, once they marry.

SUMNER_Mary nee PRATT_death record_21 Apr 1888_ArmadaMacombMichigan

From previous experience I know that there is usually a PAGE 2 for these records on Family Search.  So, I went to the second page and there it was.  Showing her cause of death and her parents, Josiah Pratt & Rachel aka Rebecca, whom I already knew of. No surprise there.

SUMNER_Mary nee PRATT_death record_21 Apr 1888_ArmadaMacombMichigan_pg 2

BUT WAIT!  What is the record just below hers?  It shows the exact same information for:
  • Cause of death – consumption
  • Birthplace – Canada
  • Occupation – Housewife
  • Parent’s names – Josiah & Rachel Pratt
  • Residence – Dead
  • Date of record – June 7th 1889
NOTE THE CIRCLED ITEMS below Mary's information.

SUMNER_Mary nee PRATT_death record_21 Apr 1888_ArmadaMacombMichigan_pg 2_showing Sarah

Is this some sort of clerical error? A duplication? Or what?

I went back to the first page to see what name was listed under my Mary Sumner.

The next name on the list is Sarah P. HUNT who died 28 Feb 1888 a married woman, age 57 yrs. 11 mos. 4 days, who died in Armada.

Here is that first page.

HART_Sarah nee PRATT_death record_28 Feb 1888_ArmadaMacombMichigan_pg 1

What did I do next?

I looked in my database at the children born to Josiah Pratt & Rebecca “Rachel” Jackson.  Did they have a daughter named Sarah who married a man named Hunt?  I have 3 children born to Josiah & Rebecca.  A son, John and two daughters, Mary born 1822 and there she is Sarah born about 1832 in Canada.
Who did Sarah marry?
- - -  She married Ashley HART

Here is what my Legacy database shows for Sarah Pratt. 

Hart_Ashley & Sarah screenshot

In this case I do think a clerical error was made when they recorded her last name on that death record.  Since every other item fits, I am concluding that I have found her death record.  And, no wonder I wasn’t able to find it before.  I would have been looking for HART not HUNT.

Isn’t this awesome?  I was looking for one record and found two.
I get pretty excited when things like this happen.
What surprises have you found in records?  Let me know in a comment or with a link to your own blog post.

SURPRISE! A birth record where is wasn't supposed to be
FAMILY SEARCH - Going back & getting those "other" pages

PLEASE contact me if you think you might be related, even remotely, to anyone mentioned in this blog.
Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2015   Diane Gould Hall


  1. Great find! Congrats! And, that is a wonderful reminder...

    1. Thanks Dana. Makes me wonder if I've missed others back in my "rookie" days. Which is why the "do over" is not a bad idea. I'm not participating, but I keep it in mind as I review various people.
      Thanks for stopping by.

    2. I am brand new at all of this, but very determined. I had followed my father's fraternal line back to Bartholowmew Donovan getting a land grant certificate in Northfield Township in Washtenaw Co. Michigan in 1835. He and Ellen were named as parents on the death certificate and marriage certificates of my Great Great Grandfather, Eugene. I also had US census data of Eugene in 1860 living with three brothers in the home of a farmer near the Donovan land, the boys all in their teens. I had farm census data too - fascinating lists of how much land and livestock each farmer owned and how many bushels of crops or how much dairy he sold that year. I had these on three of the four Donovan boys in the 1880 census. But I could not find Bart and Ellen in 1850! I could map their farm, I could name their boys, but it was as if they did not exist.

      It was while I was looking at the farm census records of the farmer who had the Donovan boys that I found them. He was Bernard Keenan, and in the 1850 Schedule 4 Production of Agriculture form, he is at the top of a page. My eye caught sight of the name "Bartholomew" on line 7! The last name given there was Donnon! So I searched the population census using that name, but came up empty. I went back to the farm census and took note of who the neighbors were. I searched on a neighbor's name, found him, and looked at the lines in the population census above and below, and sure enough, found Bartholowmew and Ellen and their seven children. Surname? Bonine. At least that is what the person typed when they indexed the record. I see a "D," not a "B" there. The rest of the name is a mess.

      Bart and Ellen were not literate (thank you census for noting that!) and their children were too small to be answering questions to the census taker, or maybe the older ones-boys- were at school or working the farm when he came by. I am fairly certain that there were not two Bartholowmew and Ellens with sons named Eugene, Bartholowmew, John, and Timothy living in that square mile of 1850 rural Michigan, so I am calling them "FOUND."

      Now my mystery is, what happened between 1850 and 1860 to Bart and Ellen and three daughters? I have scanned the 1860 census entries for the whole township looking for the girls by name with no luck. I suppose the oldest could have married, so I kind of watched for any girl her age, as well, especially with a sister or two in the household. If they were taken in by someone, they have changed their last names. I have not searched the neighboring township yet.

      Another cool record I came across is that in a book of maps of the county, there is a stylized drawing of the Bernard Keenan Farm, circa 1880. Yes, it is 20 years after my Donovan boys were known to have lived there, but it is almost like having a photograph of where they spent their teens.

      My ancestor, Eugene, later married the widow of the farmer Nathan Wooster. The Wooster farm abuts the Keenan homestead. Sometimes, looking at the map of the township from the era you are investigating teaches you a bit about why or how some things come about! Eugene had land a bit away from this area, bounded on sides by land owned by two men with the Widow Wooster's maiden name. Makes me wonder if the Kingsley family awarded Eugene with a bit of land for taking on their sister/daughter and her five children? Since Anna Kingsley Wooster Donovan is my Great Great Grandmother, I personally think he got a great deal!

    3. Nancy,
      It sounds as though you are doing a fine job in researching those elusive ancestors. We all have them. Determination and perseverance wins the day in genealogy research. I wish you very good luck and serendipity throughout all your searches.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Jana. It was sure a lot of fun finding it. I love surprises.

  3. Terrific find and post! I wanted to let you know that I've included your post in my NoteWorthy Reads this week:

    1. Jo,
      Thank you very much. I'm always so honored to be mentioned in your Noteworthy Reads.

  4. Oh this is just the best! It's very inspiring and a good reminder to me to slow down!

    1. Those records are just full of surprises aren't they Michelle? Wonder how many I've missed over the years?
      Thanks for stopping by.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.