ancestor story, puzzling

Disappointing Death Record

MAFFIT, Seth Potter, 1904 Death Record

I recently wrote about the unusual death of my 3rd great grandfather.  I had hoped the death record might add some helpful information.  I was able to find it on microfilm at the BYU Family History Library last week.  Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let down.  I suppose this record confirms that his cause of death was a skull fracture, that he died in the hospital and that he was buried in Momence.  But, I already knew those details.  I wonder if a record of ANY kind exists that might shed some light on the unusual circumstances surrounding Seth’s death?  It looks like I have more stones to turn over!

14 thoughts on “Disappointing Death Record”

  1. I missed the first post so ignore me if I’m repeating info. I had relatives who lived in Kankanee, and there are free newspapers available for that area from the local library. Maybe the accident was written up in the paper?

  2. There is one piece of information in that death certificate….his time of death was 7:30 am which makes it sound like he was on the tracks during the night. Hmm…sleepwalking, wandering around after a trip to the bar?

  3. Hi. I’m sorry the DC did not provide you with more info. I agree with Donna that an autopsy report might help if one is available. Also, here’s something to consider. If, as previously mentioned, your Great-Great-Great Grandfather was going through some form of depression or decline in his mental health, it might not be reported publicly in the newspapers. The family may have known but never discussed it outside the family circle. There was a certain need to keep these things confidential because society was not very understanding, or knowledgeable, about depression and mental/emotional issues at that time.

    1. Hi EmilyAnn. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I will look into an autopsy report. I’ve never done that before – a new genealogy adventure! I’ve thought many of the same things you shared in your comment. I imagine the family tried to be as private as possible when mental health or substance abuse problems existed.

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