Saturday, June 11, 2016

Be Judicious When Researching Documents

I know we have all heard it before: check ALL the information given on a record and don't accept it as gospel. I came across this death certificate for my second great grand-uncle, Isaac Wickliffe, a few years ago, but I never took the time to truly check all the information. Thanks to the Genealogy Do-Over by Thomas MacEntee, I have been going over all of my records. I had saved this to my online tree, but had never really looked at it before. Can you spot the error?  Hint: It involves math!

Looking at the birth year of 1872 and the death year of 1934, does not make Isaac 85 years old like the death certificate claims. It makes him 62 years old. On the other hand, if he were really 85 years old when he died, he would have been born in 1849. Based on the other records I have found on Isaac, I know he was born about 1849.

Also, Charles Wickliffe (the father listed on the death certificate) died about 1871 and Barbara Wickliffe (nee Jonas) could not have given birth in 1872. She would have been 60 years old!

It is important to pay attention to all of the details within a record. If not, you could be building a brick wall.

I am still learning to write citations in the Evidence Explained format, but here is what I have for this death certificate:

Texas, "Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982," digital image, ( : accessed 09 June 2016), Services, entry for Isaac Wickliffe, died 02 February 1934; citing certificate no. 8225, Texas Department of State Health Services, State Registrar Office, Austin.