Sunday, February 10, 2008

At the local mortuary

I went to a local large mortuary on Friday on my way home from the library, and talked to one of the "counselors" who sells caskets and services to the survivors. He had worked there for several years, but it was obvious that he had never met a genealogist before in that setting! Earlier in his life, he had been a pastor back in Lancaster PA.

He listened to my request to "determine if there were any records pertaining to the disposition of Bertha and Clarence (I explained that Bertha's remains had been shipped in from elsewhere) in June 1958 by H*** mortuary" and he was curious enough to go ask the secretary to the mortuary director, who had been at the place for many years and would know where the records might be kept, if she could answer my questions.

He was gone only five minutes and came back with all of the answers.

* This mortuary had taken over the earlier H*** mortuary.

* Records for the last year are kept in a storage area at the mortuary, and older records are stored offsite in some sort of records retention system.

* They didn't know how far back the records go, or if the records from H*** Mortuary were included.

* A search could be made for specific records if there was a specific month and year known. A search would cost $75.

* He didn't think that the records would include a death certificate or an obituary, but he didn't know for sure about 50 years ago.

* The records that he is familiar with are essentially business records - the order forms for services, payment history, release of remains to a cemetery, etc.

It was an interesting experience - he was very nice and helpful and I didn't take too much of his time, and I learned something about this particular mortuary. He learned a bit about genealogy research too - he asked several questions about how we find vital records, cemetery records, etc. He was surprised that there were local genealogy societies that answered queries and had meetings with speakers.

He was impressed that CVGS had published the burial records of Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita and that we were working on La Vista Memorial Park in National City. His mortuary works with both of those cemeteries on a regular basis.

I went there in hopes of finding a death certificate in a file so that we didn't have to pay for one at the County Clerk's office. Now I'll go to the Clerk's office and get one for $13 - not a problem, and a much better deal than paying $75 for a search that may be fruitless and time consuming.

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