Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Yes! I Finally Have a Name!

After two tries and a wait of nearly six months (instead of the usual four), my great-grandfather Fredrick K. Gerner's Pennsylvania death certificate arrived.  What a Christmas gift!  It's been a long wait.  After the requisite four-month wait the first request was returned with death certificates for people who were not Fred because the index number was not decipherable.  I sent a second request and included the line from the index with Fred's name and several possible interpretations of the numbers.  I also suggested that if they had a paper copy of the index they might be able to read it better than the online index.

Whenever I send a request that requires a self-addressed envelope, I enclose a colored one because I can easily tell when a family history document has arrived in the mail.  I've been watching for a colored envelope since early early November, four months after sending my request.  I explained to my husband about waiting a second time for the death certificate.  Since early November he's been telling me they'd probably never send it.  You can only imagine my excitement -- and his surprise -- when there was a robin's egg blue envelope in our mail the day before Christmas!

The certificate gave me a different birth year; Fred's cause of death; and, most wonderful, Fred's father's name; but unfortunately not his mother's name.  The informant was "Mrs. Fred K. Gerner."  Sadly anyone could have claimed to be Mrs. Fred K. Gerner.  I would have been happier if she had written her name as Mrs. Elvira Gerner but I'm sure a new widow doesn't think to use her first name when she's used her husband's name for more than 50 years. 

I suspected Fred's father's name based on other research but now that I see it on a document, I will begin an in depth search.  I'll put the information from this record together with other documents to compare, then continue research.

What a nice Christmas gift.  What a nice start to my new year!


  1. How exciting! Isn't it the best feeling when you finally stumble on something new! Or finally find a missing piece?! This is why genealogy is so much fun. It was also a great Christmas present for you!

  2. How exciting, I can't wait till Ancestry finishes the scan and posting of the Pennsylvania Death Certificates on line.

    That Mrs. Husbands Name drives me crazy, my ggrandfather's sister was listed as Mrs. William Collins. I am glad that has gone by the wayside, for the most part.

  3. Congrats on receiving it! :) PA is certainly not quick on the draw. I sent a request for a certified birth cert back in October, and was hoping to receive it by now since the website says it will only take around 30 days... ah well. That's a good tip about the bright colored envelope also. I think I will start doing that! Do you have any experience with ordering records through the Philadelphia archive? I requested a pre-1906 birth cert from them, and it took about 6 weeks for them to even cash the check. Wondering how long I'll be waiting on that one.

  4. What a nice Christmas present.

    I need to order to PA death certificates. It's good to know that it takes a LONG time to get them.

  5. Yay! What a great way to celebrate a new year coming!

    Dee at Shakin' the Family Tree


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