Are Obituaries Always Accurate?

My quest continues ~ I’m still searching for the descendants of my Norwegian and Swedish 4th great-grandparents. My focus this year is on those who left Scandinavia and settled in North America.

My Norwegian 4th great-grandparents Christian Tronson (1779-1852) and Gunvor Mortensdatter (1788-1875) had 10 known children. Several of the ten left Norway behind, immigrating to the Midwest United States.

Today is the anniversary of Peter Christian Peterson’s 1884 birth in Bremen Kansas. Peter is one of Christian’s and Gunvor’s great-grandsons.

1882 02-09 marriage record of Paul Peterson and Gurine Halvorson

Peter’s mother Gurina is a direct line descendant of Christian and Gunvor; she is their granddaughter. Listed as Guri Halvorsdatter in the 1865 Norwegian census for Sogndalstrand, her first name was later spelled a variety of ways in a variety of documents.

After Gurina’s husband died in 1913, his obituary listed her name as Regina and gave the wrong year for their marriage. Notice also, Paul’s obit says the couple has 10 children, Guri’s says 11. Thankfully clues exist elsewhere and a combination of those clues verify that Regina and Guri are one and the same, her marriage to Paul took place in 1882 and the couple had 11 children together.

Obituaries are one of my favorite genealogical tools, but the information they contain must be taken with a grain of salt. In the U.S., many important decisions related to a loved one’s death are made within a short period of time. Family members making those decisions are often struggling with personal grief and mistakes are inevitable.

So no, obituaries are not always accurate. However, they can be valuable resources in the search for information about immigration, relationships, maiden names, places of residence, occupations, memberships, and religious affiliations.

Peter Peterson’s father Paul Iver Peterson died 28 Aug 1913. His obituary (posted below) was printed in the [Marysville Kansas] Marshall County News on the 29th of August 1913. Peter’s mother Gurina died 30 Dec 1943. Her obituary (posted below) was printed in the [Marysville Kansas] Marshall County News on the 6th of January 1944.

*Sogndalstrand is pictured on this web site’s header.

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