Thursday, December 31, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Abbie Smith's Death Certificate

It's Treasure Chest Thursday, and I want to highlight just how important death certificates can be.

This is the California death certificate for my great-great-grandmother Abbie A. (Vaux) Smith (1844-1931), widow of Devier J. Smith and the mother of my great-grandmother, Abbie Ardell "Della" (Smith) Carringer:

I obtained this death certificate by walking into the San Diego County Recorder's office in Chula Vista and requesting a copy of it and paying $12 for the service.

Here is what I learned from this record:

* Abbie died at "10:10 a.m." on "11 September 1931" at "2115 30th Street" in San Diego, California.
* She was "female," "white" and "widowed" and was the widow of "Devier J. Smith."
* Her birth date was 28 October 1844 , and was age 86 years, 10 months and 14 days at death.
* Her occupation was "at home."
* Her birth place was "New York"
* Her parents names were "Samuel Vaux" born in "England" and "Mary A. Underhill" born in "New York."
* She resided at the place of death for "45 years" and in California for "45 years"
* The cause of death was "Carcinoma of breast with general metastasis" treated over "four" years, with contributing cause of "acute dilatation of heart" for "2 days"
* The attending doctor was Chas. R. Langsworth M.D." who practiced at "3115 University Ave" in San Diego who first attended her on "4 January 1928" and last attended her on "9 September 1931."
* There was no operation performed or autopsy conducted.
* Place of cremation was "Clover Lawn Crematory" and date was "Sept. 15 1931."
* The undertaker was "Benbough Funeral Parlor" at 711 Date St. in San Diego.
* The informant was "Ada G. Kellogg" of "7111 Date St." although I think that is the person who provided the information to the county registrar. I am certain that the information came from Abbie's daughter, Della (Smith) Carringer.

My main purpose of obtaining this death certificate back in 1995 was to determine if it named Abbie's mother - and it did. I did not know the surname "Underhill" before I obtained this record. I have no other record that provides her mother's maiden name. This knowledge led me to an extensive New England ancestry from Old Norfolk County in colonial Massachusetts Bay Colony (eastern New Hampshire towns and Massachusetts towns north of the Merrimack River).

As far as I can tell, all the information in this record is correct (well, the registrar's address is probably incorrect). The birth date, birth place, parents names, parents birthplaces, etc. are secondary information and should be confirmed by other records. But they do match the information in the Smith Family Bible, other family papers, and census records.

I just realized that I have not found Abbie's final resting place - I wonder where she is inurned? My best guess is at Cypress View Mausoleum where my great-grandparents and grandparents are inurned. This is the first I've heard of "Clover Lawn Crematory" and have no clue where that was in 1931, although it was probably near Benbough's Funeral Parlor in downtown San Diego. I can probably find out from a 1931 San Diego City Directory.

One more mystery - what was Abbie's middle name? All of the records say only "A." Her mother's middle name was "Ann." Her daughters middle name was "Ardell." My best guess is that it was "Ardell" but I don't know for sure.


Anonymous said...

Hi Randy

Have a look at this book on Google Books- "
Cemeteries of San Diego
By Seth Mallios, David M. Caterino, San Diego County Gravestone Project"
Looks like your hunch was right.


Randy Seaver said...

Thanks - didn't even think to look for it! I need to buy that book!