It's the many volunteers who help others who light the way for history to live again. Without the human touch in dredging up the leads, we would most likely all still be sitting around scratching our heads in dismay.
For example, it took a village of information and thoughts from others to help me solve several mysteries. Sometimes, just a spark can relight the nearly smoldering embers of inquiry into the family genealogy coal mines.
In my quest, I have been so grateful to all those who have helped, whether it be directly or indirectly, with my search. Having just a death certificate may not be enough. Find the obituary alone may not be enough. Together, these wonderful finds may result in shouts of glee.
The Pennsylvania Death Certificates found online dating 1906-1963 have been a blessing as one can search names and see if the information needed is there. Add that to the Old Pittsburgh Newspaper Project, and sometimes, a lost family member is reunited again by the obituary.
Just this week, while I was chatting with another finding the past fanatic, er, volunteer, we bounced ideas about George W CALDWELL, Jr. We confirmed a first marriage to Elizabeth NEU. Read about that exciting find here.
But what happened to him? I have wondered about this for years. I know he lived at a boarding house in Pittsburgh with his dad in 1900. I know he signed his dad's Civil War Pension papers in 1904 while living in Johnstown, Cambria Co, PA. I know he was dead by his sister's 1940 obituary.
My buddy suggested we look at the 1923 death of a George Caldwell. In studying the death cert, I noticed the age was right. More importantly, I noticed the body had been removed to Pittsburgh from Crawford Co, PA. No other information was gleaned from the death certificate. He is listed as single--so what happened to wife number 2?
I was able to locate the obituary in the Pittsburgh Press. Bingo.
The obituary confirmed the services for George would be held at his brother's house, Dr. F M CALDWELL and burial would be at the First St Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery in Mt Oliver, Allegheny Co, PA.
Light that torch.
On to Findagrave where a wonderful volunteer had a memorial for him with the year of death in the same cemetery as F M CALDWELL. Even though there is no photo for his final resting spot, he is with his brother and his son. And now, the information on George is on his memorial page.
Yes, Uncle George has finally come home and it's all because volunteers take the time to dig in to past.
Ahh, genealogy. With a thankful heart for all the dedication volunteers have to help us all in our personal journey. Keep those torches lit!
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
The Pittsburgh Press, Sept 9, 1923.
"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MS1N-HVW : accessed 12 June 2016), George Caldwell Jr. in household of Emma Hammond, Precincts 1-2 Pittsburgh city Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States; citing sheet 2B, family 30, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,357.