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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finding an Ancestor's Death Record

Carole's Question:
Please help me find where and when my great-uncle died. Here is what I know:

1. Vincent Alphonsus Hipp was born May 19, 1884 in Monroeville, Huron County, Ohio, the son of Andrew and Catherine (Seifert) Hipp. After graduation from high school, he evidently went out to California.

2. In 1904 he is listed in the San Francisco City Directory as being a clerk at the Pac Hardware & Steel Co., 4 1413 1/2 Guerrro.

3. Further information is that the "Goldfield Tribune" listed him as being at the deathbed of my grandfather in Goldfield, Nevada on December 20, 1906. (He may have worked with my grandfather at a lumber business in Goldfield.)

4. After that he disappeared, and no one knows what happened to him. As I grew up, I was told the story that he had worked as a clerk on a boat on the Sacramento River, fell overboard and drowned. I haven't been able to prove or disprove that story.

Here's what I have done:

1. Checked both of the older California State Death Indexes (even had a search done) to no avail.

2. Looked at the 1910, 1920 and 1930 Censuses. No luck.

3. Checked the WWI Draft Registration Cards. No luck.

4. Checked Ancestry and Family Search sites. SAA

So, what should I do next? Could there possibly be any truth in the family story? If so, where would I look? Who should I contact? I live in Wisconsin so can't get to CA any time soon. Please guide me. Thanks so much.

Olive Tree Answer:

Dear Carole - An excellent query! You have done all of the basic research which could and should be done. And you have explained clearly what information you are looking for.

If you cannot find Vincent, then you must look to the other family members for clues. I see that his parents are in the 1930 census on, so they have lived long enough that there is probably an obituary for them. And I see that there are six or seven siblings to research. Look at each of them: was an obituary published for them? You can try href="" > or for online newspapers. Are there estate records for them?

The family was in Ohio and Indiana (and best of all, in Allen County, the home of the premier US public library for genealogy) and you state that the grandfather was in Nevada.

Check newspaper reports in each of these locations (and wherever else the family may have lived; this includes Vincent's siblings). An obituary may have been published for Vincent ("Ohio newspapers please copy") or a social note may have appeared for one of his sibs: "We are sad to learn that the brother of Mrs. Henry Smith, V. A. Hipp, has been killed in Someplace. Mrs. Smith will be travelling to Someplace Else to be with her parents at this time.")

Check estate records for Vincents parents, siblings, and grandparents. There may have been a distribution of assets wherein the attorneys recorded how they notified the family - and who they notified.

And look at real estate transactions. The children of Andrew and Catherine may have inherited property from their grandparents: that land may have later been sold to one of the sibs, and all had to sign.

I see a number of books published about Goldfield history; some mention of Grandfather or Vincent may give you further clues.

The LDS have a book - Esmeralda County Records (Nona Parkin) which has newspaper notices from 1864 - 1983. There are also microfilms of deeds until 1908. and Contracts, assignments of mortgages, etc. Also see Esmeralda County Auditor/Recorder for their services. Huron County Ohio is also well represented (e.g. probate records 1851 - 1967). Likewise Allen County Indiana.

Good luck!

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