Sunday, February 19, 2012

Busy week, Busy week

The past week has been busy, mostly with matters non-genealogical.  So much to do with a little one set to arrive at the end of May, and add in taking care of a one year old, working and the day to day routine, and that doesn't leave much time for genealogy (or much of anything else).

That's not to say that I haven't taken the odd moment here and there and tried to take care of some family history research.  Most interestingly, I spent some time looking at the indexes for Pennsylvania deaths at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Public Records  page.  Pennsylvania has finally began to unclench the iron claw it held around birth and death records with the passage of Senate Bill 361, which makes public death and birth records after a specified time (105 years for birth and 50 years for death), so birth records from 1906 (the first year Pennsylvania maintained vital statistics at the state level) and death records from 1906 through 1961 are available as public records. 

The biggest issue right now are the indexes. For each year, the index consists of 4-6 PDF files which appear to be scans of a paper index the department maintained.  They are not electronically searchable, but are in either alphabetical or Soundex order, depending on the year.  In most cases, for most people, this should work out fine, but I have one ancestor, my great x 2 grandmother Anna Martha McNally nee Myers (date of death 11 Apr 1915), that I have been unable to locate in the index.  Here's her obit:

Of course, Pennsylvania couldn't find her any of the times I requested her death certificate over the past few years.  I'm hoping that some organization (Ancestry or Familysearch) will digitize the records and create their own index from the digitization, and her death record will come out from hiding.  The main reason I want her death certificate, apart from completing the record, is that it will verify where she is buried.  I've been told she is buried at the cemetery next to the Albright Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, but that her grave is unmarked.  I've walked the cemetery quite a few times (it's not very big) and have never found a stone.  And the church has not been very helpful - I have two or three requests for information outstanding, sent some number of years ago and never even acknowledged. 

In the very near future, I'm going to make a list of all the death certificates I currently do not have from Pennsylvania that fall within the time span and queue up the requests - a bargain at $3.00 a pop, particularly when I've been told that copies cost $.50 at the archives (where the originals are held) and it's a good six hour drive from my present location to Harrisburg (farther than a day trip).  Maybe I can make a deal with one of the good folks from the Blair County Genealogy Facebook group who are much closer to the archives.

I'm slowly but surely integrating my wife's family history into my tree.  It's not a fast process, as I need to take the time to really learn about these people who helped to make my son and unborn son the people they are.  But it's going forward, and giving me research and blogging ideas along the way.  I'm already making plans to build some time to go to NARA on my next trip to Washington D.C. to obtain Civil War pension applications - much easier to go to NARA when I'm going to be in D.C. than fork over $75 per application and get them in the mail. 

Keep on searching.

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