Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Surprise Using FamilySearch's Record Search

I have been enamored of FamilySearch Labs' Record Search since it first came online. I like the interface and the presentation of information. I just wish there were more records available. To help toward that goal, I've spent a fair amount of time on transcribing records on FamilySearch Indexing.

Recently, I was running names through the Texas Death Certificate database. One of the names was "Elias Bowie." That name may refer to either my great-uncle or his father, my great-grandfather. One of the neat things about Record Search is that it finds names that are in records whether or not the name is the direct subject of the record. So for example, you may find John Doe's death certificate, but you'll also find Jane Doe's death certificate if John is listed there as her father.

So when I ran "Elias Bowie" against the Texas death database, one of the things that turned up was a death certificate for a J.C. Bowie with Elias listed as "father." I pulled up the image (see below) and discovered it is for an infant who died at the age of six months. The baby's mother is listed as Hattie Bryant, my great-grandmother. All which means that my grandmother, Jessie Beatrice Bowie and great-uncle, Elias Bowie (Jr.), had a brother. I had never come across this information before in any record or through family oral lore.

J.C. Bowie was born in November, 1911 and died in June, 1912. Of course, this was between censuses, so he would not appear on a census record. And it may well be that this information was somehow kept from my grandmother and great-uncle who were two years old and one year old at the time of their brother's birth.

The death certificate tells us some other interesting things. J.C. was born in San Antonio. It is well established by record evidence and family oral rendition that both Jessie and Elias (Jr.) were born in San Antonio in 1909 and 1910 respectively. J.C. died in Rockport, Texas, but his residence is listed as San Antonio. We know conclusively that Hattie Bryant's parents lived in Rockport and that she grew up there. Like a lot of young people on the Gulf Coast at the time, Hattie headed for San Antonio at about age 19 or 20. The entries on J.C.'s death certificate suggest that he may have died during a visit home by Hattie. The death certificate says that the deceased infant was in Rockport for three months prior to his death.

Other questions are raised by this. Why did Hattie go home for such a long time? Did she take Jessie and Elias (Jr.) with her? We know that Hattie and Elias (Sr.) broke up sometime after 1910. Did he follow her to Rockport or was this the breakup?

Death Certificate for J.C. Bowie from FamilySearch Labs'
Record Search
(Click to enlarge)


RootsReading said...

I have recently had a similar experience to yours. This is one of my favorite parts about genealogy. Congrats on your discovery!

Karen Burney said...

Hi Craig-
I have been finding great things on FamilySearch Labs too! One of the ladies that does research with me has really had a lot of success in finding her relatives on this site and Footnote. She literally just sits and prints out Texas Death certificates for generations of her family and is able to ascertain the parents of each individual in doing so. It is a great resource for people researching Texas. Although, I have had similar success in locating records in Ohio. Thanks for your information on it.