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January 21, 2013

Seeking Death Records isn't Always Easy

The genealogy community and my Olive Tree Genealogy blog readers rock! With their help I now have a correct copy of Maggie McGinnis' Michigan marriage certificate and legible copy of her California death certificate.

I've written a letter of complaint to Michigan Vital Records and will update readers on their response (if any). For those who haven't been following the saga, here are the blog posts. Be sure to read the comments!

Caveat Emptor? Or Does Michigan have a Complaint Desk?
And Now a California Death Record Disappointment!

Briefly,  the family I'm seeking consists of Bernard (Barney) McGinnis born 1852 in Ontario Canada and died 27 October 1902 in Denver Colorado. Barney married his cousin Margaret (Maggie) McGinnis. She was born in 1844 in Ontario Canada and died 8 April 1945 in Los Angeles California. 

Thanks to the kindness of a reader, I now have the obituary for Maggie which was published in the Los Angeles Times in April 1945. As a bonus my kind reader (who has access to ProQuest) also found the obit of Maggie and Barney's son Vincent Joseph McGinnis who died in 1949 in Los Angeles. 

This has been a tricky family to track (aren't they all!) so let me share with you what I have found to date:

Barney and Maggie married in Lapeer Michigan 17 December 1876. They are living in Galt Ontario in 1881, 1891, 1901. That is the last record of Barney until an obituary placed in a Guelph Ontario newspaper. I would like to find another obit in a Colorado paper.

Maggie is in Galt in 1911 and then found on a Border Crossing record dated 1916 where it states she was as in USA 1873-1877 in North Branch, Michigan and 1902-1906 in Pontiac Michigan and Denver Colorado. She is in Los Angeles in 1930 and 1940 but I have no census record of her from 1911 until 1930.
I have found 6 children for Barney and Maggie:

* Elizabeth McGinnis born 1879 Galt Ontario died 1881 Galt Ontario

* Jean M. (Jennie) McGinnis born Dec. 1880 Ontario died 27 Aug. 1960 Los Angeles. She married Martin J. Skelly in 1910 in Colorado. I don't know if she died under the married name SKELLY or McDONALD. I am seeking her death certificate or obituary. Martin Skelly died 29 March 1929 in Los Angeles and I am seeking his death certificate or obituary. Jennie is in the 1910 census for Denver Colorado, then 1920 and 1930 in Los Angeles California

* Daniel Hugh McGinnis born June 1884 in Galt Ontario, died after 1927. Married Elsa Elfreda Cober in Waterloo Ontario in 1919. Looking for his death records

* Anastasia (Anna) L. McGinnis born 1886 in Galt Ontario married Arley James Haislip and died Jan. 1930 Los Angeles. Need her death certificate and obituary. Children born in Michigan and California

* Joseph Vincent McGinnis born 1888 Galt Ontario died 22 Sept. 1949 Los Angeles. Grateful to Kay, who sent me his obituary from the Los Angeles Times

* Mary Ellen (Helen) McGinnis born 1893 in Galt Ontario married Stanley Reuter in Waterloo Ontario in 1913. Last record of Mary Ellen is a Border Crossing for April 1916 when she and her son Allen are going to her husband in Michigan.

It's been a process of discovery for me - finding out that I need to do more research to learn when Death Records were kept (and where) in different states, that I need to be more methodical in my search for ancestors on FamilySearch, and that writing up my findings as a blog post helps me to see the holes in my research AND reminds me of facts I've found but forgotten about!

I welcome any ideas or suggestions from my readers for my next steps in searching this family.


Devon Lee said...

Yeah for the genealogy community for helping you out! I love the reminder to post what you know. That's my goal this year.

The Grandmother Here said...

Hooray for FamilySearch and it's FREE.

Unknown said...


You have helped so many folks, including me. I think this is just wonderful that, given a chance, others have come through to help you. That's what genealogy is all about.

Dee Sager
Neosho, Missouri

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

I'm so glad to hear you are making even more progress on the family! I also wanted to say that I'm happy to have helped you out in some small way--I finally got to return the favor as you have helped me in the past with my Ontario families. Best of luck in your continued research on this family, and do keep us posted on the VitalCheck and State of Michigan front.

Anonymous said...

My great grandfather seems to have dropped off the face of the earth before his death. I have an old family Bible recording the date of his death, but I can find no record of him dying or being buried. It's so frustrating. Nothing before he married my great grandmother and nothing 10 year before he died. I will continue to search!