This post continues my Edna Henry and family project. I have been working on this for almost a week at an average of about 1-2 hours a day or researching.
Since I have William and Florence’s death dates from the land records and found both of their death notices in the Baltimore Sun, I want to see if I can locate their death certificate information in the Maryland death indices.
I will not be able to obtain the death certificates anytime soon. They are $25.00/certificate when ordered on-line (they are certified). So I like to wait until I have quite a few to get and then I go in person to the Archives in Annapolis, Maryland.
The indexes are available on-line at the Vital Records Indexing Project.
The index is free to search and does not require any registration. However, if you choose to generate a death certificate order you will need to create a free account.
On the main page, click Search MD Vital Records.
Clicking the Search link yields the search page.
The Baltimore City indexes are separate from the County indexes. For the county indexes, all counties are included within each available date range.
I will search Baltimore City first as 3030 Westfield Avenue is in Baltimore City and the closest hospitals to that location would have been in Baltimore City.
So I will click on the Baltimore City Indexes for 1875-1972.
The City indexes for 1875-1880 and 1943-1949 are different as the records are not scanned. You have the ability to type in names and years. For the rest of the indexes there are scanned images of either cards (for the counties), or index pages (for the city).
I will select 1937 to search for William.
The indexes in this time period are typed pages arranged by first letter of last name, then organized by the first vowel in the name and finally listed in order by month and day of death. Earlier indexes are hand-written and sometimes arranged by first letter of last name and then first letter of first name. Also, the earlier indexes that contain multiple years within a single index are a bit jumbled. Later indexes are organized by soundex.
I go to page 5 which covers the “H” “e” for May (William died on 5 MAY 1937).
|1937 Baltimore City death index
William R. is not listed in that time period. I do notice however that scanning further down the page is a “Henry, William R.” on Jul. 11th. Hmmmm.
|1937 Baltimore City death index
Could his death certificate somehow have been misfiled? I do a quick search of the Baltimore Sun for July 12-16, 1937 and do in fact find a death notice for William R. Henry that died on July 11th. There is mention of his parents (names that are not familiar) and he to be buried in Ohio. This isn’t my William.
So, perhaps he did not die in Baltimore City. Next I search the county indexes.
I click on the index for “1934-1944 Han-Hor” and page through the index and realize that the index is mislabeled. It only covers “Han-Har”, the last card in the index is for George W. Harvey.
I go back to the main search page and check the indexes for “1934-1944 Gam-Ham” and “1934-1944 Hos-Jones, J.” as maybe those have been mislabeled as well. I find nothing for “He”.
Well, this is disappointing!
Now I will search for Florence. I go back to the city index for 1939.
|1939 Baltimore City death index
Yay! Finally! Progress!
Although I plan on pulling this death certificate myself on my next visit to the Maryland Archives, I still like to generate an order form. I like to print those out and place them in a folder that I labeled “Archives Search” so I have all the information I need when I go.
At the top of the search page I will click on the link to “Order a copy of a certificate from this index page”
|Ordering a death certificate
At this point I am prompted to log in or create a new account.
Since I have an account I will just log in.
|Log in screen
Others have ordered certificates from this page based on the window that pops up.
I like when a certificate I am interested in shows up here because it means at least one other person out there somewhere is interested in this person as well.
Florence isn’t on this list so I have to “Add a new transcription”
I fill out the form.
Notice that for the date it only asks for the Year of Death. I like to put the date in parentheses so it prints out on the form. For this date range there are no Volumes and Folios listed in the index so I just leave that blank.
|Transcription for Florence E. Henry
When I click Continue the transcription and pricing information is generated.
After clicking continue, the screen shows my Shipping and Billing information since I already have an account. No screen shots here!! HA!
Next it generates the order form which I can print out.
The page can be sent directly to the printer. If your computer has a PDF print driver installed you could also save it as a PDF file.
Since it is in HTML format it can be saved, but as a webpage.
At this point I have all the information I can get from the death index, but I still do not have any information on William’s death certificate. My guess is that he died in a Maryland county but it is entirely possible he didn’t even die in Maryland.
Since his death notice in the Baltimore Sun said he was to be buried at Moreland Memorial Park I will check findagrave.com and billiongraves.com to see if there is an entry for him.
Findagrave.com only has one Henry entry (not him) for Moreland Memorial Park and there are none for billiongraves.com.
I decide to try to give the cemetery a call to see if they can provide any information over the phone. Some cemeteries will, some won’t. Since I live near the Baltimore area I can certainly visit the cemetery in person. However, it is a large municipal cemetery so walking it to find them will probably not be productive.
Before I call I check their website for information (some have maps on the site, Moreland Memorial Park does not) make a list of my questions:
- In what plots in the cemetery are they buried?
- Do they have maps of the cemetery in the office?
- Does she know where William died?
- Does she know what funeral home handled the arrangements?
- What were their birth dates?
- Is there anyone else buried in their plot?
- Can I get a hard copy of the information?
I call and the lady that answers is very nice and offers to look him up. So I start down my list.
- They are buried in Section E-14, Plots 1 and 2. She then says the graves are unmarked. Of course they are, that is my luck.
- Yes, they have maps in the office. I want a map!
- William died in Sykesville, Maryland. She also mentioned that Florence died “at home”. Sykesville, could he have been a patient at Springfield State Hospital?
- L.J. Ruck handled William’s arrangements. I will have to check to see if Ruck has any funeral home records available.
At this point she says that she needs to go because the other lines are ringing. I am not upset, I will try to visit in person soon. Most likely, since she gave me some information over the phone, I can get more in person, and hard copies.
So, if William died in Sykesville (Carroll County) that would explain why I couldn’t locate him in the death index since the county index was missing for part of the alphabet.
I can pull the certificate pretty easily knowing the county and the date but it would still be nice to see it in the index.
That is when I remember that the indexes are also located on the Maryland State Archives Guide To Government Records.
I go to the guide, go to death records and scroll down to The County Death Records 1898-1972.
I find the correct series and find that they have an Electronic version.
I click on the MSA SE58 link to bring up the county index lists, scroll to the appropriate date range and click the Link button.
This is a huge file so I give it some time to fully load, it took a couple minutes to load the 10,106 pages in the index.
I don’t want to scroll through a bunch of pages so I take a guess and jump to page 5000. Hensley, not bad, pretty close.
Let’s try 4970. Henry, Walter Eugene. Getting closer.
Page 4972 is the winner. Found him.
Now I feel better that I did find him in an index. This wasn’t necessary, as I said before I could have pulled his certificate without the index but it does verify that this William Henry died on May 5, 1937 in Carroll County at age 78. My William was born about 1859, that would make him 78 in 1937.
I print out the index card and place it in my Archives search folder.
Let’s do a quick check to see where I am with my goals:
- When and where exactly was William born? Don’t know. Hopefully when I get his death certificate I will get a clue to that information.
- When and where did William die? May 5, 1937 in Carroll County, MD (Sykesville). More specific info should be on his death certificate.
- When and where were William and Florence married? I haven’t even started this search yet!
- What is Florence’s maiden name? SPARKS. I need to do some searches and see if I can find her before she got married to William.
- What happened to Edna’s husband (since no one remembers him, only her)? Oh Edna! You are killing me with this one. My mother said she was going to visit Aunt Ruth today, maybe she will remember something to give me a hint.
- Can I find any new information on William that will lead to new information on his father John Baker Henry, brother Charles Dorsey Henry or grandfather Charles L. Henry? Not yet.
I realized in my goals I forgot to add my goals for Florence (where/when she was born and where/when she died. She died Feb. 23, 1939 in Baltimore City, MD (most likely at 3030 Westfield Avenue). Her death certificate should hopefully provide that information and birth information as well.
I have much that I still need to do but I am headed in the right direction.
This will be my last post on this project. I will try to post an update as I find more but I think that I showed how to use some of the resources for Maryland research. That was my big picture goal. Search strategies will always vary depending on what information you have and what you want to know but hopefully this gave less experienced researchers so pointers.
My other suggestions:
-Use a research log.
When I first started researching I know I searched the same resources for the same person multiple times because I didn’t keep a log. Many free logs templates are available on the internet.
-Make sure to source your records.
You should be able to pinpoint exactly where your information came from, even if it was from a conversation with a relative. The internet is a great resource but it is ever changing. Records you find on-line today may be moved, web sites change etc. Don’t assume you will remember where it came from!
-Revisit your information every few years..
More and more records are becoming available. Just because you can’t find it now doesn’t mean you will never be able to find it. When I first discovered this family in the early 2000s I could not have found all this from the comfort of my home office. It was all available, just not so easily.
-Field trips are good.
All of this on-line research will be followed up by some field trips. I will go to the library to search for more newspaper articles. I will go to the MD State Archives to pull death certificates, birth information for Edna, and marriage information for William and Florence.
-Don’t forget about genealogical and historical societies.
Although I didn’t use them here, another great resource for Maryland research is the Maryland Historical Society and the various genealogical societies. It may not be financially possible to join all of them but join at least one and try to be as active as possible. You research will improve and you never know who you will meet!
-Check your local library to see what services they provide for genealogical research.
Public libraries many times offer access to subscription services; Ancestry.com, genealogybank.com, newspapers.com, local newspapers. Also see what microfilmed records they have. Different branches may have different resources. I have a U.S. subscription to ancestry.com but go to the library if I want to search the World records. I can use my own laptop by connecting to their wi-fi network.
Join social media groups.
Message boards and mailing lists are not as popular as they used to be but groups on Facebook, for example, are on the rise. You never know who you will connect with.