Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Four Steps Forward, One Step Back

Sometimes things happen serendipitously, and sometimes they get screwed up. I love when the first part happens, but I get really upset when I or someone messes up and I don't catch it. There's a lesson here!

CVGS received a query several weeks ago from a fellow wondering if we could find the burial place of his grandfather and grandmother, who died in the 1930's in Chula Vista. The California Death Index for 1930-1939 at http://www.vitalsearch-ca.com/ had both persons listed, so I now had a death date. A check of the Glen Abbey Memorial Park CDROM produced by CVGS last year yielded the burial locations at the cemetery. Then he asked for death certificates for both of them, so I happily offered to obtain them. Finally, he had the thought that maybe the grandmother's father was buried there too - I checked, he was, and he wanted a death certificate for him too. No problem.

I went down to the County Clerk's office in Chula Vista last Friday to get the death certificates. The clerk found one of them on the computer system and quickly printed it off. The other two were not on the system, so she called the main office in San Diego and the copies from the microfilm were printed and then was faxed to Chula Vista. But the faxed copies were very difficult to read. The CV clerk recommended going to the downtown San Diego office and getting them there. No problem.

Now the serendipity - over the weekend, one of my CVGS colleagues got a request from a correspondent in Ohio asking about a death date, burial location and death certificate for her great-grandmother. I found the death date in 1900 on the San Diego County USGenWeb site (Pre-1905 Deaths), and told her that I was going downtown to the Clerk's office and would pick up the Death Certificate. No problem. Two birds with one rock, so to speak!

I went downtown to the County Clerk office today. The clerk was helpful and efficient. She quixkly found the three death certificates on the microfilms, and made the certified copies for me. I paid my money ($12 each), declined a receipt, said thank you and left the office happy as a pig in s**t. I was there less than 40 minutes.

Tonight I took the certificates out of my case and wrote emails to my two correspondents telling them I had their death certificates and please send me their mail address. I'm glad I looked at each of them before I put them in the envelopes to mail. The one for the grandmother's father wasn't there - I got another death certificate by mistake. Oops. Big problem.

Now what? Another trip to the County Clerk downtown tomorrow, I think. Hopefully, they'll accept my story and produce the correct death certificate for me. My guess is that someone else wanted the one I got and received the one I didn't get. It may be lying around at the office waiting for me to claim it. I thought I did so well at this. Just d**n.

Lesson learned: Check the certificate before you leave the County Clerk's office. I'm sure I won't do that again! Humph. Serendipity breeds complacency, I fear.

UPDATED 11/15 - I went back to the County Clerk's office today and finally got the right death certificate. On the first try, the clerk handed me a birth certificate of someone I didn't want or need - he had used the record number from births instead of deaths. I guess he was embarrassed, because his supervisor finally gave me the right death certificate. I checked it over this time! No charge. I appreciated that.

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