Friday, February 17, 2012

Research tip

I discovered an important tip from Taneya Koonce (no relations?).

I have been loving that I can view death certificates, mostly for free, on I finally found the death certificate of my great grandmother Katie Warren there on the anniversary of her death this past December. She died December 30, 1930. And according to the death certificate, she didn't remarry after my great grandfather died, as legend had it.

Another death certificate has puzzled me. Or should I say two? My great uncle Howell Brasfield has two death certificates. After looking at them again, I'm not sure they are for the same person. It's just hard to believe that there were two black men named Howell Brasfield was born in Tennessee and died within miles and a month of each other in the same year.  But then the certificates has different birth dates, marital status and dates of death. They had different burial dates but was both buried in the small city of Maury City, Tennesee.

While I was there last year, I mentioned it to the archivists on staff. One was amazed at the possibility of two death certificates for one man, while another said it happened all the time. Since reading the article from Taneya, I know I now must go back to the Tennessee Archives and look at the originals. It is still wonderful to be able to access the certificates online, but "ain't nothing like the real thing, baby."


I found this obituary while searching for more info on my Warren ancestors.

Dyersburg Gazette
February 14, 1901

Aunt Kate Fowlkes, one of the best known negro women in Dyersburg, died last Sunday. She was truly an old time "black mammy" and was proud of the distinction of having nursed the first boy baby every born in Dyersburg - the late lamented Capt. Frank G. Sampson. She died at the ripe old age of 89 years. 

The name struck me because my great grandmother went by the name Kate Fowlkes at one time. This is not her but I wondered if it could have been her grandmother. This obituary was probably meant to honor a "truly old time black mammy" and that was suppose to be a good thing. But while they praised her, they didn't mention her family, the ones who most mourned her passing. The only clue left behind is "the late lamented Capt. Sampson," most likely the son of her slavemaster. I'm sure his obituary was effusive in comparison. Her brief tribute is very sad to me.