Beginner genealogists are encouraged to start with what they know and work backward toward facts as yet unknown.
But in the case of my third great-grandmother, I know more about her 1822 birth then I do about her 1901 death:
Lena Stina, or Helena Christina as she would later be known, was born 28 Feb 1822 in Ulfsman Fiskaby, Jönköping, Småland, Sweden.
She was one of three known daughters born to Magnus Åhman (later Åman) and Britta Catarina Issaacsdotter.
Her marriage to Carl Tolf took place in her Swedish village 26 Dec 1846. The couple had eight children.
The four oldest children each traveled to the United States individually. Lena, her husband and their four youngest children immigrated to Batavia Illinois in May of 1878. This is where Helena would live out the rest of her days.
And that is where the mystery begins.
From the Batavia (Illinois) Herald, Wednesday 16 January 1901:
“Death of an Aged Mother – Died, at the home of her daughters, Misses Christina and Amanda Tolf, on Hueston St., West Batavia, Sunday, Jan 13, 1901, after an illness of several weeks, Mrs. Elena Tolf, aged 78 years. Deceased was an old resident of this city. She had reazed a large family of children, four sons and four daughters, four of whom live in Batavia. She was a good christian lady and a kind and devoted mother. Funeral will be held at the Swedish M.E. church, Thursday afternoon. Burial at West Batavia cemetery.”
A scrapbook clipping from the Gustafson Research Center in Batavia Illinois:
“Mrs. Carl Tolf, died at the home of her daughters Christine and Amanda Tolf on Houston street, at 4:45 last evening of heart failure. She had been ill for some time and the end was not entirely unexpected. She was born February 27, 1822. Eight children survive to mourn her loss. The funeral will be held Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. from the house and 2:30 from the Swedish Methodist church on McKee street.”
From the Batavia (Illinois) Herald, Wednesday 23 January 1901:
“Card of thanks – We desire to express our heartfelt thanks to the friends and neighbors, who so kindly assisted us during the sickness and death of our beloved mother, and especially to those who sent the beautiful floral pieces. Christine and Amanda Tolf”
Yet Kane County Illinois has no record of Helena’s death. And none of the cemeteries in Batavia have a record of her burial.
I’ve checked with each of the cemeteries in which her husband and her children are buried. Helena is not there.
On Wednesday February 25th, I requested a list of funeral homes active in 1901 from the Batavia Historical Society. I eagerly await their response!