Because there was no image of the gravestone, I requested one through Find A Grave. I have not heard back from them.
I figured that the Find A Grave entry might be from some sort of catalog or list of burials housed at a cemetery, so I checked the Family History Library Catalog for Concordia, Cloud county, Kansas, and found this entry:
As I surmised, the Pleasant Hill Cemetery burial index cards were on microfilm, FHL US/CAN Film 182,799 Item 1. When I was at the Family History Library last week, I checked out this microfilm and found the index cards for both Mary Ann and Samuel Vaux:
Wait a minute!! The death date for Samuel Vaux on the cemetery card says 9 October 1890, while the death date on the Find A Grave memorial says 9 October 1880. Concordia, we have a conflict!
The Find A Grave information was probably derived from the index card, but we don't know when the index card was created. Was it immediately after the death, or was it sometime later? The handwriting on the two index cards above looks to be identical, so the cards were probably made out well after the deaths. They may have been made at some time before 1958, when the GSU filmed them. Where did the information on the cards come from? They may have come from a careful transcription of gravestones, or they may have come from contracts or forms in the cemetery office.
From what I know, both pieces of evidence are Derivative Source, Secondary Information, Direct Evidence, so they are equally weighted. But the Find A Grave entry is probably derived from the index cards, so, to me, that makes the index cards the more authoritative source.
What can I do to find additional information about the date of the death of Samuel Vaux? Here are my ideas:
* A gravestone photo will probably help - if there is a gravestone.
* A newspaper article in a Concordia area newspaper may provide an obituary and a death date.
* There is a book in the FHLC listings:
Marilyn Johnston, Louise Ganstrom, and Cloud County Genealogical Society, Early Deaths, Cloud County, Kansas, before 1903 (Concordia, Kan. : Cloud County Genealogical Society, 1994)
It's on the shelf at the FHL, and also available on microfiche. I'll add this to the To-Do list for my next FHL visit!
The Notes for this item in the FHL Catalog says:
"Information taken from county records, funeral homes, newspapers, and cemeteries."
If the record for Samuel Vaux in this book is from the cemetery index cards, then it may say 1890. But there may be other records that corroborate one date or another.
* A probate record for Samuel Vaux would probably clear this up quickly. Unfortunately, the Cloud County, Kansas entries in the FHLC indicate that no probate records (or land records) are available on microfilm from Cloud County.
An 1885 Kansas State census search for Samuel Vaux (or a Sam* born 1816 +/- 2 years in England) yields no record. D.J. and Abbie (Vaux) Smith resided in Clyde, Cloud County, Kansas in the 1885 Kansas State Census and the household does not include Samuel Vaux.
I have an interesting conflict - does any reader have another idea for finding the actual date of Samuel Vaux's death?
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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver