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April 22, 2011

Clues from an Ontario Obituary Lead to the Colorado Archives Online

Back right: Barnard McGinnis
From Theory to Fact: 30 Years in the Making talked about finding new information on my much-sought after McGinnis ancestry.

One of the items I discovered in a newspaper obituary was mention of Bernard McGinnis' death in Colorado in 1902. That was pretty exciting as I had never been able to find Bernard in the Ontario Death Registrations and yet he should have been there. He and his family lived in Galt Ontario for over 20 years so I had assumed (note to self: never assume!!) he died there. I wondered what he was doing in Denver Colorado, so far from home.

Obit: the body of Mr. [Bernard] McGinnis arrived in Galt Saturday morning Nov. 1, 1902 from Denver Colorado and was taken to the residence of his sister Mrs. D. Fields, North Water St, from which place the funeral took place on Sunday at 3 to St. Patrick's Church, thence to the Roman Catholic Cemetery. The service was conducted by Rev. Father Lenhardt. The members of the CMBA turned out in a body and were augmented by about twnety visiting brethren from Hespeler. His daughter Miss Jennie McGinnis accompanied the body from Denver. Other relatives present were Mrs. Albert Smith of Toronto; Mrs. Joseph McGinnis of Thoront; Mrs. John McGinnis of Berlin' James McGInnis of Toronto, Hugh McGinnis of Hespeler; Mrs. Robert McGinnis of Guelph; Mrs. John Clancy of  Cleveland; his mother Mrs. Hugh McGinnis who is 85 years of age. The family feel grateful to the community for the widespread sympathy extended. Pallbearers: frank Smith, Dennis Callaghan, Thomas Fleming, John Albert, Thomas Murphy and William Miehm

Colorado research isn't completely new to me as my husband's Massey ancestors left Canada circa 1880 and settled in Pueblo. Even though it is not his direct line, we always search all siblings down the generations in order to gain a more thorough knowledge of the family. We also hope to find out new details about the common ancestor using this method (searching all siblings).

Crossing my fingers, I went to the online Colorado State Archives to see if Bernard McGinnis was in the death record indexes. Since I knew a month and year of death (October 1902) I could verify if more than one turned up. And there he was.

My next step was to order a copy of the Death Record, which I was able to do online. There was no price given on the website but an email followed a few days later with details. It would cost me $25.00. Phew! That was a bit steep but I really wanted the record so I agreed. That was March 11 and finally on April 21st the record arrived at my home in Ontario Canada.

I was pretty excited as I opened the envelope. And there it was. Unfortunately the only new information was his cause of death (typhoid fever) and his residence address in Denver. I'd hoped for a clue as to why he was in Denver. I thought if his occupation or employer was noted, I'd have more clues for investigation. But no such luck. The only fields that were on the record were:

Address 1049 8th Street
Date Oct. 27, 1902
Number (blank)
Sex male
Color white
MSWD Married
Age 45
Nativity Canada
Occupation ?
Cause of Death Typhoid Fever
Contributory (blank)
Operation (blank)
Autopsy (blank)
Dr. G. A. Moleen
Interment Canada
Undertaker McGovern
Name McGinnis, Bernard
No parents' names or locations of birth - such a disappointment! Turning my attention back to the obituary, I saw many other details that provided clues for further research as well as some puzzling items. One was the sentence that "The members of the CMBA turned out in a body and were augmented by about twnety visiting brethren from Hespeler."

I had no clue what the CMBA was so off I went on another hunt. And there it was - the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association A quote from the website explains:

"CMBA was established for the purpose of joining fraternally in one grand organization all male Catholic between 18 and 50 able to pass a proper medical examination, to supply life insurance of $1,000.00 or $2,000.00 at actual cost to give social benefits only give by secret or fraternal organizations outside the Catholic Church, and to offset the work of secret societies"
Another bit of detail to make Bernard come alive for me. I've yet to explore the other clues in the obituary but I do recognize the names mentioned. I'm intrigued by the fact that there is no mention of his wife who was still living. And why was Bernard's body taken to his sister instead of his wife? I'll delve into that question at some future time.


The Grandmother Here said...

You have piqued my curiosity. Please keep us informed.

Barbara Barr said...

Perhaps he was prospecting? I have a relative that died in 1897 in Colorado as a result of being shot on his own gold claim near Cripple Creek in historic Freemont County (later Teller County), Colorado. This is near Denver.

sajosovic said...

In the death record indexes of the online Colorado State Archives there is another Bernard McGinnis who died in the City of Denver on JUN-22-1903: See
Who is He?

Genealogy Blogger said...

Sajosvic - That's an intriguing question! I have no other Bernard McGinnis in my database who is unaccounted for...

Would love to get his records but at the Archives' prices, it's a bit pricey