Saturday, July 5, 2008

I've Got Mail

My paternal grandfather's birth certificate came in the mail today. I had no expectations when I sent for it. I just wanted the record in my files, and maybe a suggestion for my great-grandmother's official name. She went by a lot of names.

Here's what the birth certificate told me:

1. My great-grandfather Lenertz was born in Waseca, Minnesota. His death certificate says "Branscato," which I've always assumed meant Mankato.

2. Barecke appears to be the maiden name of my great-grandmother. I've also seen Barake and Bareke. Sometimes she went by Hayward, using her stepfather's name.

3. This Oklahoma birth certificate requires the signature of an attending physician, midwife, parent or relative. This document was signed by Mary Elizabeth Coffey, and she says she's the aunt of my grandfather.

Could this be the "Aunt Beth" other family members refer to? I had her name as Elizabeth M. Lenertz, born about 1890, in my records. That's all I knew.

Even better, she gave her address on this birth certificate for her nephew (my grandfather) and it was a St. Louis, Missouri location. That state is one of the few that digitized their death certificates for online viewing. I searched through the Mary Coffeys and found what I was looking for. Mary Elizabeth Coffey is Aunt Beth.

She died at 57 years of age of "terminal pneumonia." She was buried in Lawton, Oklahoma. (Her parents are buried there, too.)

I order a birth certificate expecting to know all that's on there, and this little official signature adds a small but important piece to the puzzle.

Edited to add: I looked more carefully at my grandfather's birth certificate. It is a delayed copy, filed January 15, 1942. My grandfather (born in 1914) must have applied for it. His parents were dead by then and he was an only child, so Mary E. Coffey was the nearest relative who could verify his birth. The notary was out of Los Angeles County, California. This is where my grandfather lived at the time. Mary Coffey lived in St. Louis. They must have handled this birth certificate business during a family visit.

There is also a signature for "Affidavit of non-relative having knowledge of this birth." This is signed by Mrs. E. E. Murray. The notary was out of Washington County, Oklahoma.

If it wasn't for this delayed certificate of birth, I don't know when I would have found the married name of Aunt Beth: Mary Elizabeth Coffey.

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