Two websites have digitized death records now. One is the Familysearch.org labs search site (http://search.labs.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html) – you have to register first and wait a couple days before you can start accessing the records there. The other one is the Missouri Death Records site (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/birthdeath/). No registration is required for that one. Since I’m searching for ancestors and collateral family lines in Ohio, I use the Familysearch.org Labs Search site to access digitized Ohio Death Records from 1908-1953. First off, I found people in the family I didn’t know existed! Through that site, you don’t even have to input the name of the deceased – you can input the father’s last name and mother’s maiden name to see the death records of their children. Careful – as sometimes there are misspellings.
Most of the deaths have occurred due to either heart problems, artherosclerosis (I think they called this “hardening of the arteries” back in the day!), and some died of cancer. The children are the saddest. Three children of one woman died of “malnutrition”. Now, I’m not judging or anything as I’m sure that in the 1920’s some of these folks just didn’t have the money or crops to feed so many people. Some of these babies were born too early and lived from a few hours to a few weeks. I can’t even begin to understand the parents’ heartbreak to lose one child let alone many. In this century, with the technology available, many of these premature babies or “malnourished” children, would have greater than a fighting chance of surviving.
I’ve also oncovered at least one suicide – by the wife of a great-uncle. The cause of death was listed as shotgun blast to the head. What was happening in this woman’s life that she felt she had no choice but to do that? Had she been ill? Had she been experiencing some mental health issues? Had she and her husband quarrelled? There is also the man who died from “accidental” carbon monoxide poisoning from his automobile as he dwelled in it”. Say what? How was he “dwelling” in his car? Had his wife thrown him out and he was staying the car and running the engine to keep warm? Had he gotten stuck somewhere and by running the engine, the tailpipe was closed and the poisonous gas filled the interior of the car? Or was the coronor feeling some pity toward the man’s family and knew that if he listed the death as anything but accidental the family would be ostracized? I guess no one will ever know. Another man died after falling from a high story building. Was he washing windows, engaged in construction, or standing there looking out an open window and fell? How does one “fall off a building” accidentally unless it was one of the above. There were a couple of car accidents or other types like the young boy who died after a horse fell on him and he was crushed.
And how about those parents whose children were stillborn – why didn’t they name them? Were they afraid to? Was it “easier” after the child’s passing if a name wasn’t attached? My dad’s baby sister doesn’t have a name on her grave. She’s just listed as “infant of” in the cemetery records. Yet, everyone in the family knows what her name was. Could it have been too painful at the time of the birth and death to name her and it was later, after the burial, that my grandparent’s gave her a name?