Monday, April 12, 2021

Laura (Bell) Moses - a Deadly Fall

A dozen or so years ago I spent time at the Ohio Archives Library at what was then called the Ohio Historical Society searching their microfilmed Ohio Death Certificate collection to find relatives of ancestors and their newspaper collection for obituaries.  These two documents come from that time.

Whenever I think of ancestors/relatives and accidents, I think of Laura.  She died from a fall off her porch.  Below are her death certificate and extracted information and her obituary and a transcription. 

Laura Bell is my great-grandmother Lydia Bell's sister.  This is our connection, a purely maternal line:  me -> Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle -> Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen ->
Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff -> Lydia (Bell) Thompson. 

Name:  Laura Moses
Place of Death:  Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio
Address:  803 Prospect
Sex, color, etc:  Female, white, married, wife of Theodore Moses
Birth date:  June 20, 1862
Age:   79 years  27 days
Occupation:   Housewife
Birthplace:  Salt Run, Ohio
Father:  Jacob Bell, born Ohio
Mother:  Lydia Fithen, born Ohio
Informant and Address:  Theodore Moses, 803 Prospect Steubenville O
Burial Information:  Murphy Funeral Home, Mingo Jct., Ohio
Filed:  July 25, 1941
Date of Death:   July 17, 1941
Doctor's Statement:  He attended deceased from July 14 to July 17, 1941, and last saw her alive on July 16, 1941.
Principle Cause of Death:
    Cerebral Hemorrhage on July 13, 1941, from a fall off of porch
Death Caused by accident:
    Date of injury   July 13, 1941.
    Where did injury occur?  803 Prospect, Steubenville, O
    Specify [where injury occurred]   fall off porch at home
    Manner of injury   Struck side of head & shoulder
    Nature of injury   fall from porch
Doctor:  S. F. Paul, M.D., Steubenville, Ohio     July 21, 1941

The obituary below was published in The Steubenville Herald-Star on Thursday, July 17, 1941, on page 14, column 4.
Injuries Fatal to Mrs. Laura Moses
   Mrs. Laura Moses, 79, died at
her home 803 Prospect avenue at
8:10 a.m. today of injuries re-
ceived in a fall from the porch
at the home on Sunday.
   She is survived by her husband
Theodore Moses and a sister Mrs.
Binnie [sic] Roe.
  The body is at the Murphy
Funeral home in Mingo Junction
and will be taken to the residence
Friday noon. Funeral services will
be held Sunday 2 p.m. at the
home.  Interment will be in the
New Alexander cemetery.

Comments and Observations
  • Laura's sister is name "Mrs. Binnie Roe" in the obituary.  I have no doubt this obituary is naming her oldest sister, Lavinia, also known as Vinnie and Viney.  Lavinia married (Wesley) Scott Roe and did not die until 1943. 
  • The cemetery in the obituary is recorded as New Alexander Cemetery.  The nearby town was actually New Alexandria.  I'm surprised a local newspaper would make such a mistake.
  • The cause of Laura's death reminds me how easy it is for a person to misstep and lose his or her balance.  I find older people, including me, are more susceptible to losing their balance and that, in general, the consequences for them are more dire than for younger people.  A few years ago my foot slipped out from under me at the top of our steps.  I flew down the steps, my bottom bouncing on each one of them.  (I can laugh now.)  At the bottom, I was stunned into stillness for a moment or two.  When I collected my wits, I realized that I had absolutely no damage to any body part.  What a blessing!
  • I wonder about Laura's fall.  How high was her porch?  How did her fall happen--down the steps, over the side?  The lot where her home once stood looks like a wooded field on Google maps so I can't learn anything about her porch.  I doubt I'll ever learn more. 
  • It's amazing the changes to research opportunities over time.  FamilySearch was fairly new when I began research and offered primarily census records.  At the Archives Library it was thrilling to look at an index for Ohio Death Certificates, find a name, look at the film, and learn so much information and, then, be able to find a film with a local newspaper with the same death date and find an obituary, too.  I always felt like I'd hit the jackpot after those research trips.  Of course, it's wonderful to have 24-hour access to records at FamilySearch, Ancestry, and the other resources currently available online.


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  1. I have numerous obituaries with big mistakes (names in particular)...including from some very large newspapers. But luckily, we usually can puzzle out what was meant. And I agree, often the obits raise more questions than they answer. Sigh.

    1. I often wonder if obituaries were handwritten (during a time of distress) and handed to the typesetter who had to decipher the handwriting. My great-grandfather's surname was misspelled in his obituary and, like you, Marian, I have plenty of other obituaries with errors. This one wasn't a problem because I had already found correct information.


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