So I have this great-grandfather. He stands out amongst my father’s lineage because the men almost all lived long lives, but he did not. Dad almost made 86; his father reached 90; his great-grandfather the Civil War captain got to 99 1/2; and the captain’s father passed at 95. But then there’s my great-grandfather, Winslow, with a meager 30 years, 9 months, as it says on his marker in the cemetery in Yale, Michigan.
Why this was the case is an elusive story. I have heard two stories. One is that he died in a farming accident at his property in northern St. Clair County, Michigan. The other is that he died in Chicago, Illinois, somehow, possibly involved in some labor unrest (Chicago was a hotbed of that in the 1890s). Even his death date is up in the air, or as up in the air as it can be when it’s engraved in stone. The grave marker says he died on “June 12, 1892, aged 30 years 9 months.” Is that correct? The page at Find-A-Grave.com gives his dates as 1860–1890, even with the photo alongside in contradiction.
Meanwhile, the death date I have is 1893, though I have no backup for that. I’m the oddball with that 1893 date. There are twenty-some other family trees in Ancestry that include my great-grandfather, and if they have any death details at all, nearly all have “12 Jun 1892, Chicago, Illinois.” But NONE have a death certificate, obituary, news article — no primary source at all. I’d change mine, but there’s really nothing firmer to support 1892.
His name doesn’t turn up in death record indexes in Cook County, Illinois, nor in any indexes I have available covering St. Clair County, Michigan. I don’t get that, either; it’s ONLY 1892 (or ’90 or ’93), we’re not talking 1700s here. I guess I could send to the official state offices to see if they can do a search, but that costs money and you have to have more precise information before you send them on the goose chase. Well, I think I have to. I don’t have spare twenties to send to Lansing (or Springfield).
I could try to find a cousin, I suppose. “Hi, you don’t know me, but….” AWWWkward.
Why do I like genealogy? I like solving puzzles. Of course, I’d like puzzles to be a little more solvable.