16 January 2011

Death Synonyms

Recently I've been reading through biographies in the Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware ©1922 by John D. Benedict. This three volume book is availabe on ancestry.com, so I started out searching for every case where the word "died" appeared. The word died appears over 200 times in this 3 volume set. In most cases, the bios tell when a person's parents or children died (and often where). On a few occasions the death is of the person whose life story is being presented.

HOWEVER...If you have ever read one of these older histories, you know that the writers varied their word usage in order to keep the bios interesting. So they must have had a very complete thesaurus at hand!

So when searching for deaths in this book on ancestry.com, I have had to go back and search for the following words and phrases:

- died
- demise
- death
- deceased
- assassinated
- murdered
- final rest

I am only about half way done checking this three volume set for pre1920 deaths. I'm sure I will discover other death synonyms. I'll keep you apprised...

09 January 2011

Oklahoma Military Post Records

I have been slowly extracting deaths from early Oklahoma Military Post records. These are located on Ancestry.com.

Records are tabular with numbers indicating deaths (early records) or commissioned men deaths and enlisted men deaths. If the deaths reported are for enlisted men, just the number of deaths is recorded. If the death is an officer, the name and particulars of the officer are recorded. In both cases, the company and regiment are noted.

Although few names appear, month and year of deaths for specific units can be very helpful in tracking down other military records. The following posts are included in this record group at ancestry.com:

Fort Arbuckle
Fort Cobb (Nov 1859-Apr 1861)
Camp Guthrie (Apr 1889-June1891)
Post Cantonment
Fort Reno
Fort Sill
Fort Supply
Fort Towson
Fort Washita
Camp Arbuckle IT (Apr 1833 and June-Oct 1934)

Some day I will be able to finish searching through this record group. Reading is slow going. Fort Washita alone has 457 images (two images per month). I have only read through the three posts listed above that have dates listed.

06 January 2011

Oak Park Cemetery in Chandler, Lincoln Co. OK

Last week on the way back to OKC I stopped at Chandler City Hall to check the records they might have for Oak Park Cemetery. I had gone through a card file about 10 years ago when looking for some Civil War veterans, but could not remember what kind of records they had.

The clerk took me back to the small room that holds the old record books for the city. There is a card file on which SOME of the burials are recorded. One big problem is that many years are listed with only two numbers. So there is no way to tell from the index card if 01 is 1901 or 2001, for example.

The also have to volumes of records. One is the book with listings by block and plot. This list has many names that have no dates with them- simply a name listed for a specific space. But there were many that DID have death dates listed.

The second volume is an index to cemetery records. This book is alphabetical by surname letter and includes name, age, death/burial date, and lot owner. This book has many entries that the burial volume does not.

So I went through the Burial Record book first and then the Burial Index book, extracting all pre-1920 deaths. Many were duplicates, but there some in each volume not listed in the other. Then I started on the card file and made it through blocks 1 through 4. I still have the majority of the cemetery left to check for the card file, and I will get back to it some day (hopefully this summer).

The City of Chandler is in the process of comparing tombstones to the cemetery records to update the records and make as complete a listing as possible. And they plan to put the information on-line! So I will send them all the entries I Have for Oak Park Cemetery in Chandler to help them with their project. I have the advantage of having some obits and published records, along with tombstone inscriptions from walking the cemetery.

Yet another example of how collaborative efforts can result in a successful project!

02 January 2011

Trip to Osage County

Last week I took a trip to Osage County to scout wells for the company I work for. As my cover I was "looking for cemeteries". In addition to spotting and taking pictures of oil and gas wells and drilling sites, I DID visit three cemeteries. Stupid me didn't think to take pictures of the cemeteries!

St. Johns Cemetery near Grainola is a small abandoned cemetery. It is NOT kept up. The cemetery "grounds" appear to be about one to two acres. However, there are only 9 visible graves, all in one row. The entire cemetery grounds, except the strip where the gravestones are located, is used for hay pasture. Three pre-1920 burials are for John H. Eitzman, Lorenz W.H. Eitzman, and Ida Ropers.

Foraker Cemetery, serving the area in Osage County northwest of the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, is an extremely well maintained and beautiful cemetery. Of the many people buried here, stones for 20 of them have death date before 1920. Surnames for the twenty: Acres, Appel, Bailey, Berry, Bray, Codding, Cox, Davis, Dial, Graham, Grimes, Hobbs, Johnston, Leaton, Mains, Mounts, Tusing and Workman.

Burbank Cemetery, just northwest of the town of Burbank, has a sign that states the cemetery was established in 1925. Although I didn't expect to find any pre-1920 tombstones, I went ahead and walked the small cemetery. I found one Civil War veteran (Elihu B. Myrich of 30th ME Infantry). The most interesting thing, though, is that there were several burial from 1923 and 1924 (mostly infants).

So never assume that the "official" founding date of the cemetery is date of the first burial. Or even that the first official burial is the earliest death date. There are several reasons a burial could precede the founding of the cemetery:
• There was an original family plot around which the "new" cemetery was established.
• Homestead burials for the surrounding area were moved to the cemetery once it was established.
• The earlier stones are actually cenotaphs for family members buried in another location.

My next post will describe my visit to the City of Chandler to look through the records for Oak Park Cemetery.

01 January 2011

Ringing in the New Year with a NEW TOTAL!

Now that 2010 has come to an end, I have transferred all "new" entries into the main Oklahoma Death Index (pre-1920) database. As of the end of the day, 31 Dec 2010, the database total is now:

211,868 entries!!

In Nov and Dec alone I added over 29,000 records.

My goals for 2011:

• Get the word out about this blog and my Oklahoma Death Index.
• Do searches for FREE.
• Request donations to continue extractions and cover costs involved (especially travel/gas).
• Reach 300,000 entries by the end of 2011.

I pray you will have a wonderful 2011!