Monday, November 19, 2007

Using Online Ohio Death Records to Solve Genealogical Problems — Part I

I've been busy this weekend solving problems and family mysteries thanks to the FamilySearch Labs Record Search website ( The folks at have an ongoing project in which volunteers are indexing a variety of records. The plan is for some of the records to start appearing on the Family website in 2008, so the public will have full access to them.

In the meantime, I could sign up to become a participant in their Pilot for Family Search-Record Search Program.

After registering and waiting a day for confirmation of my registration, I signed in and started searching. The idea behind the pilot program is to garner feedback from participants before these features go public. I am in fact, a happy little beta testing guinea pig.

The two sets of records of most interest to me were the 1900 Ohio Census records and the Ohio Death Records, Dec 20, 1908 through 1953. Both of these records had images attached and both had been completely indexed and were therefore searchable. I rolled up my figurative sleeves, and gave the record search a good workout.

In case you missed it in that last gobbledy goop of a paragraph, I'm looking at ACTUAL IMAGES OF OHIO DEATH CERTIFICATES! Now are you impressed?

PROBLEM 1 - I want to see if the mother of my great-grandmother, Emma Gleffe Schrader, is listed on her death certificate. Jörg Gliewe, my German friend, had said the mother's name was Pauline Gleffe and that Gleffe was her maiden name as well as her married name. However, we were communicating through translators and I feared I had not understood correctly. I hoped that Emma's death certificate would solve the issue.

I typed in first name, last name and the event year, and voila, she was one of three complete matches. Unfortunately, her mother's name was not listed. The upside was, I did not have to spend $7 to find this out, and I was able to download and save the record.

PROBLEM 2 - Circumstantial evidence indicated that Margaret Anderson was the mother of my great-great-grandfather, George W. Lynch. Census records confirmed her first name was Margaret, but I did not have anything more concrete than the fact that two of her siblings and mother were all buried in Feaselburg Cemetery in Seneca County.

George was born in 1831 before birth records were kept and he died in 1903 in Greer County, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, Oklahoma didn't start filing death records until October 1908. However, George was the oldest of a large family of children. Only two others left Ohio for other states, which meant the others had all died in Ohio.

The last of George's brothers living in Ohio died in 1901 (Marion Lynch), so looking at George's sisters was the next step. Fortunately, I had learned the value of researching siblings from my first cousin once removed, Cheryl. (Don't make me tell you again what once removed means.) And I therefore knew what each sister's married last name was.

So I looked up the death records of Amanda Lynch Hosler, Margaret Lynch Michaels, Harriet Lynch Rosenberger and Jane Lynch Rosenberger. Amanda, Harriet, and Jane's death records all listed Margaret Anderson as the mother. Margaret's death record just gave the last name as Anderson. Success. I now feel confident that Margaret Anderson is indeed the mother of George Lynch.

Tomorrow, I will give examples of two more problems I tackled with the aid of Ohio's Death Records.

Until then — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note: My November 15 post, “Testing Online Translators” was mentioned on Juliana Smith's “24/7 Family History Circle” ( hosted by It appeared in the November 16 post. Thanks for the mention!

Note this post first published online, November 19, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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