Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Death Notice ≠ An Obituary

Christian Gerner's "obituary" from the Butler Area Public Library Obituary Index arrived yesterday.  Filled with eager anticipation, I was excited to open the envelope.

I was so disappointed to see that it was a death notice instead of an obituary.  Death notices are short announcements that state the person's name and may include death date, location of death, and age.  An obituary will usually include that information plus much more.  Often an obituary will tell the name of spouse, including her maiden name; the names of parents including a mother's maiden name; names of living and dead siblings; sometimes marriage date and location; employment information; etc.  May obituaries tell much more.

This is Christian Gerner's death notice:
GERNER -- At his home in Butler, Feb. 16, 1899.  Christian Gerner in the 80th year of his age.
That's it.  From this information I cannot tell whether this is my Christian.  I can tell that this Christian was born in 1819 or 1820, which fits the age range as a father to my Fred Gerner who was born about 1848.  And I can tell that this Christian lived (or perhaps better said, died) in the same county where my Fred Gerner lived.  But that's all the information I can glean from this death notice.

My next step was to order a microfilm of the Butler County wills for 1899 from the Family History Library.  More waiting.



  1. How disappointing. I know the feeling when you wait so eagerly for the mail only to find what you already knew.

  2. It sure can be so so disappointing Nancy and INCREDIBLY frustrating!!! The "waiting game" is no fun at all but congrats on your persistence. Sending lots of positive energy your way. Cheers, Catherine.

  3. Thanks, Wendy, Heather, and Catherine, for your sympathetic responses. I guess the uninformative documents are just part of family history searches. Not every search can give us answers, I suppose. Thanks for your positive energy, Catherine.


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