Saturday, April 27, 2013

Emily Meigs Biddle obituary error

A few weeks ago I was playing around in GenealogyBank, looking for articles on my Biddle relations - specifically my 3rd-great grandmother, Emily Meigs Biddle (1824-1905) and her daughter, my 3rd-great aunt, Emily Williams Biddle (1855-1931).

I found a nice obituary for Emily Meigs Biddle (Mrs. J. Williams Biddle) in the Springfield Republican, dated 23 Nov 1905.  I always like finding obituaries.  I use them quite a bit in my research and particularly like seeing what clues to other relatives are noted.  Emily M. Biddle's obituary finishes by listing her children:

"She is survived by a son, Dr. Thomas Biddle, two daughters, Mrs. Richard Caldwalter and Miss Emily Biddle of Philadelphia." [1]

The interesting thing here (aside from the misspelling of "Cadwalader") is that her oldest daughter, Christine, Mrs. Richard Cadwalader, died 23 Mar 1900 and did not, in fact, survive her.

Death date on Christine Biddle Cadwalader's death certificate [2]

Emily Meigs Biddle died in Lenox, Massachusetts on 22 Nov 1905.  The informant listed on her death certificate is listed as Thomas Biddle. I presume this is Thomas Biddle, her son, but don't know that for a fact.  There are, however, no other immediate relatives I'm aware of with the name Thomas Biddle who would be living in 1905.

Death date on Emily Meigs Biddle's death certificate [3]

Informant on death certificate of Emily Meigs Biddle [3]
So if I assume the informant on Emily Meigs Biddle's death certificate is her son, that certainly doesn't imply he would have had anything do with her obituary.  But I find it odd that such an error would be made given that Christine pre-deceased her mother by a full 5 years.  

If nothing else, this reminds me to be careful about information gleaned from obituaries and what clues I take away. 

[1]  "Death of Philadelphia Summer Resident," Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 23 Nov 1905, p. 10, col. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 27 April 2013).
[2]  "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," index and image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Apr 2013), Christine B. Cadwalader, 1900.
[3]  "Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Apr 2013), Emily M. Biddle, 1905.