Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Treasure Chest Tuesday -- 1861 Death Record of Rachel (Morley) (Whittle) Spencer

This week's Tuesday's Treasure is the 1861 death record for Rachel (Morley) (Whittle) Spencer (1821-1861) in Sacramento, California:

The transcription of this card is:

Vital records,       - 1861
Spencer, Rachael M.
Born England, Died Sacramento, October 10, 1861
age 24 years. Dr. Shattuck.  Intemperance.

Buried Sacramento, New Helvetia.

The source citation for this record is:

"California, Mortuary and Cemetery Records, 1801-1932," indexed database with record images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 October 2017), Mortuary Records (Northern California), 1849-1900 > Smith, F - V, image 572 of 2995, Rachael M. Spencer entry.

I documented the saga of Alexander and Rachel (Morley) Whittle back in September 2010 with a little help from my blog readers - see The Whittle Research Compendium for the full story up to 2011.  Over time, I have added Parish Register records and Removal Order records to my collection for the family.  

I will be presenting my "Discovering Jane's Roots in California, Australia and England" talk in two weeks at the San Diego History Center as part of the San Diego Genealogy Day on 21 October.  The presentation discusses the records for the lives of Jane (Whittle) McKnew, her parents Alexander and Rachel (Morley) Whittle, their ancestors and descendants.  

In preparation, I decided that I should do some research to see if I could find out anything new about Rachel's death - it was the only detail I've been missing for seven years.  A search on Ancestry.com for "rachel spencer" residing in "California" produced 280 results, and one was for the record above.  Just lucky, I think.  If I had searched for Rachel as an exact name, I would have missed it.  If I had searched for a birth year of 1821 plus or minus 10 years, I would have missed it.

But is this death record for "my" Rachel (Morley) (Whittle) Spencer?  The spelling of the first name is trivial - Rachael M. Spencer.  The middle initial matches her maiden name, Morley.  Her second husband's name was Spencer.  She was last known to be in Sacramento in an 1860 news article.  She was known to be cantankerous and drunken, and the cause of death fits.  But it says she was 24 years old, when she would have been 39 or 40 years old.  Could the doctor tell the difference between a 24 year old and a 40 year old woman, or could he?  We will never know.  

After performing the search on Ancestry, I checked the Ancestry Member Trees for Rachel Morley (born 1821 in England), and three trees had this death record listed.  

My judgment is that this is the death record for my wife's second great-grandmother, Rachel (Morley) Whittle) Spencer (1821-1861). 


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Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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