Friday, December 16, 2011

Death Location vs. Burial Location

When you find a grave marker, it is easy to assume that the person died close to the place where they were buried.  This can be a bad assumption, though.  Here is an excellent example.

Edmonds-Amanda-Davis_0800-cropAmanda H Edmonds (nee Davis) was born in Alabama in 1861.  In 1892, she married Augustus Newell Edmonds and returned with him to Hill County, Texas.  Augustus Edmonds was widowed and had 8 children by his first wife.  Amanda and Augustus had two more children (Loyd and Blanche).

About half of the public trees on ancestry.com show her to have died in Hill County, Texas; the other half show her to have died in Fayette County, Alabama.  She is clearly buried in Texas (Grandview Cemetery, Johnson County, Texas) as I have seen and photographed her grave marker.  Augustus (who died years later) is buried between Amanda and his first wife Elizabeth McDuff.  It is easy to think that the report of death in Alabama might be a mistake.  However, the fact that she is buried in Texas, does not mean that she died in Johnson County, or even in neighboring Hill County.


Here is the story:
For Christmas 1901, Augustus, Amanda, Loyd, and Blanche travelled back to Fayette County, Alabama, to visit family.

Augustus’s sister Ella wrote:
On December 23rd, we looked out from our humble home and saw the hackman drive up to the gate; and oh, how our hears were made to leap with joy, when we saw that the passengers were our dear brother, wife and two little children….But alas!  In a few days all the family were sick, caused by the sudden change of climate.  And how said it is to say that death claimed for his victim the Wife, the Mother, our sweet sister."

An account in her hometown newspaper in Itasca, Texas, indicates that she lived only 30 hours after becoming “suddenly ill with congestion of the bowels”. Some suggest that it may have been appendicitis, but that doesn’t fit with her sister-in-law’s account that the entire family was ill.

On a recent trip to Fayette County, Alabama, I found a photocopy of the original death register.  It lists her death on January 5, 1902 of “congestion of stomach”.  image
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Augustus relayed information of his trip back to Texas in a letter to the editor of the Fayette Banner newspaper, published on January 21, 1902.
Please allow me to inform my Fayette friends, through the columns of your paper, of my safe arrival at home from Alabama, with my wife a corpse, on Wednesday the 8th. We were met at the depot by a great number of people, who marched to the grave to pay the last tribute of respect to my bosom companion who departed this life at 8 o'clock p.m. on Sunday the 5th….I wish to specially thank Propst Bros. and J. P. Dickinson for their noble deeds of kindness to me. I, perhaps, would have had to bury my wife at Cordova, had it not been for brother Dickinson. At that point we were transferred from the Southern to the K. C. R. R., a certificate had to be signed, and I thank God that brother Dickinson volunteered to sign it and let me through with my little children and corpse of my wife. My home is a lonely home now; a vacant chair at the fireside, at the table, at church and at Sunday school, and everywhere I go I miss Amanda. But there is one consoling thought and that is, she is at rest from the cares of this troublesome world and that I was permitted to bury her where she so much desired to be.

There you have it.  Amanda died in Fayette County, Alabama, and her body was returned with her family via railroad to Texas, where she was buried in Johnson County, which is neighbors to where she lived in Hill County.

In my records, I now enter a Death fact and a separate Burial fact.  I find that I often have evidence of the date of death but not the place, and of the place of burial but not the actual date.  However, this technique helps me avoid adding incorrect details to my family tree.

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