Well, it's time to send for another New York death certificate. Quite possibly the worst state in the union to attempt to acquire one from. From information in an old scrapbook at a local historian's office, I discovered that my 2nd great grandmother Mary Gunn Power was the niece of Sarah Brown. That made perfect sense since Sarah was older than Mary and was a witness at her wedding. Also, Mary's baptismal record from County Kerry gives her mother's name as Margaret Brown. Since Sarah and Mary Brown were sisters, they probably have the same parents. Margaret died in Ireland, where death certificates did not include parent's names. Sarah however, perished in New York so I hope to find her, (and thereby Margaret's), parents named on her certificate.
You probably recall me railing about the shortcomings of the NYS Dept of Health and their maddeningly slow response time of about a year, that's right, 12 long months; you may also be wondering why I don't just quit complaining and get a copy locally? There are several reasons I subject myself to the NYS Dept. of Health, good ones too.
- In most cases, (at least where I live), what you get from the local clerk is a transcription, not a copy of the original certificate. These clerks may be very good at what they do,(see earlier blog clerks ) or they may be unable to accurately read old handwriting and if they are not into family history won't see any point in spending large amounts of time trying to decipher it for you. Then there is the human error factor, one claimed my 3rd great grandmother Annie Dwyer's name was Puyer.
- Another time I actually received a censored death certificate! The deputy clerk had typed, "natural causes", for the cause of death. She was laboring under the misconception that the cause of death was not something to be given out. I had to call the head clerk of the town to get that information.
- If the local clerk doesn't have the certificate I need I am still out $22 in most cases, though not all if I complain loudly enough. Since I live near the Rochester, NY public library, and since that institution is one of the eleven locations in the state where you can view an index of the birth, marriage and death certificates held by the NYS Dept. of Health, (find the others here), I can easily check to see if the state has the certificate or not.