Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Death Certificates, More Questions

A few weeks ago, I requested the death certificates of William and Martha Magoun Adams from the New Jersey State Archives. Both are in my "Mayflower line", so while I didn't expect to learn anything new from these, having them helps solidify my research in this line of the family. The New Jersey State Archives has a small searchable index of death records from June 1878 to June 1885, and happily both deaths in West Orange, New Jersey fell within this small time frame. (I love requesting records from these databases since the results populate the request forms automatically.)

So when the photocopies arrived a couple of weeks later, the information was mostly what I expected: birthplaces, parents' names, and death dates, while secondary information, all confirmed information I had already. The major new information gleaned was their burial location -- both in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts. (I've already fired off a confirmation request to Mount Auburn.)

What I found odd was a fairly minor note on each certificate: How long resident in this state?
William Adams died first: 31 Aug 1880. So I didn't think much when the length of his residence in New Jersey was listed as 4 months.

Then I looked at Martha's death certificate. She died 13 Jun 1885, a little less than five years after her husband, yet her length of residence is listed as 11 years.

At first glance, the math doesn't add up. Assuming William and Martha Adams lived together during their marriage, I'd expect her length of residence to be only 5 years or so longer than his. But on the other hand, I guess it's not impossible that he was one place while she was in West Orange, but for six years? In the 1870's? I suppose the most likely explanation is that the information on one or both certificates is wrong. And at the moment I don't know that it'll make a huge impact on my research, but it's niggling at my brain. Something else to work on some day.

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