My great-grandfather James Walton died when my maternal grandfather was six years old.
The personal information on James’ death certificate was provided by Alfred Pearson, his wife’s brother-in-law.
And much of it is wrong.
Alfred got a few things right; James Walton did not have a middle name. And he was male, white and married.
But James wasn’t born in Ohio. He was born on the Isle of Man on the 16th of March in 1871.
James’ father (also named James) was born on the Isle of Man too. Why did Alfred think of Ohio? James Sr. had immigrated to Cleveland with his IOM born wife Isabella (nee Joughin) and their infant son in August of 1871. I’m sure Alfred knew of James Sr. because of James’ visits to his son’s family in Chicago.
Had my great-grandfather been a Chicago resident for 16 years? This hasn’t been easy to prove or disprove, but it is entirely possible; James’ oldest child Myrtle was born in Chicago in April of 1898.
Interestingly, Alfred wasn’t the only one providing mis-information on this vital record. According to the physician’s statement, James was seen alive on the 11th of December. Except that he died on the 10th.
So, what on this document is accurate? Well James did work with tin and may have been a shearhand. He lived on Albany Avenue, he died of tuberculosis, and he is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.
Several years ago I transcribed James’ death certificate. That’s when I noticed all the errors it contained. The transcription process was a valuable learning opportunity. Now I transcribe every document pertaining to my ancestors. It’s amazing how much more I see when I write down every word that appears on a document.