Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Granny Whetstone was missing but now she's found!

Granny Whetstone near the back boundary of their "Farm"
on Midlothian Road in Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
In the previous post I wrote about Mom's Granny Whetstone, and you can see it here. In short, I'm trying to find official records for her to complete an application I'm working on so that Mom can, hopefully and if all goes well, get admitted to the NSDAR, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. And Granny Whetstone is a key player on the line back to our patriot. I've been on a mad hunt for Granny's death certificate. Death certificates are a boon in doing this particular work because they come with a big payload, if they were properly filled out. Think about it. If you get a good one you also get confirmation of birth date, birth location, death date, death location, names of both parents and if the wind is at your back, their birth places. And if you're that kind of curious (and Mom and I are) you can find out what they died of. Cool, huh?
So my guy at the Maryland State Archives who knows their web site and facilities like the proverbial back of his hand, did a search there for Granny and came up empty. No Granny, and no death certificate!
Once I had a good pout about that, I circled back and thought about how I was going to make up for this loss of birth and death dates and locations and parents, thus linking her back a generation. I checked my research notes in the spiral binder for this project and I have to say that I didn't think I missed a thing. Obits, cemetery, census records, a fruitless hunt for a birth record. Probate stuff, court records, a library card. OK, not that last thing but you get what I mean. I found nothing that was going to satisfy the genealogists that look at DAR application in that big nice building in Washington DC, like a good death certificate. Oh sure, I could piece her life together based on census records and her marriage record, but I needed that death certificate or the application was going to be a patchwork quilt of sources. I wanted clean and streamlined.
Feeling like a puppy chasing it's tale, I took my grief to the Facebook group for DAR members working on applications and told them everything. Boo-hoo, Grammy has no death certificate. They were good, really good. There was a flurry of "did you check the ___" questions in which they made sure I hadn't overlooked the obvious, which could happen to anyone. Then the questions turned to the slightly more obscure records and at the end we were down to insurance policies. No one suggested a library card;)
I was left thinking about two possible things I might do. The first was to get someone in Frostburg to go over to the cemetery offices and check the records for me, if there were any. It's been my experience that if you go over and ask to look at something and chat a bit and share the story of who and what you're looking for, people get involved and really try to help. So maybe I could get a relative in town to do that.
The second thing was that I could try a bit harder to track down some church records in hopes of finding a burial record in a dusty corner. I knew it wouldn't be as complete as the death certificate but hey, it was a shot because it might give a date of death and some other goodies. They were not Catholics so that was out which is too bad because the best church records in town were the Catholic records, and I had already checked those just in case. Maybe they were Lutherans? Maybe. But the minister who married them was a Baptist. And this in a small town where churches come and go almost as fast as the bars. Was not optimistic.
Then one of the DAR daughters came forth and offered to look and double-check to see if she could find Granny in the Maryland State Archives online. Wow! That was real nice, but DAR daughters are like that. They love to help each other and the community. A lot of people do, and that's one of the things I like about genealogy and genealogists:) So I took her up on it. "What was her name?" she posted. And then I remembered something. Something very important.
Granny's name! In working on her life and the records that captured glimpses into the moments of it, I noticed a distinct pattern. In her early years she was recorded as Catherine Elizabeth or Catherine Eliza, and even rarely, Eliza. Then in later years she went by Kate and Katherine. (You can see this coming, can't you?) I took a quick look at the email request for research sent to my guy at the Maryland State Archive and whatta ya think it said? "Catherine!" I had asked him to look for Catherine! If she was more likely to have gone by Katherine, then no wonder he didn't find her in the records!
My new DAR friend found her in the online index in under five minutes! WOW!
See there? Katherine, with a "K".
And look there, she died in 1945?
And the index said that she died, when? 2 January 1947! Mom said that after I was born in the fall of 1946, she talked to Granny on the phone and Granny asked her when she was bringing me over so that she could see me. Fall of 1946 and Granny Whetstone was still alive. Yes, Mom, you were right, she was alive and we did go see Granny Whetstone that winter. Right before she passed on the second day of the new year. 1947.
I'm wondering what happened that the year of her death ended up as 1945 on her stone?

1 comment: