Thursday, September 2, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: John Peter Pemberton's Death Certificate

This is my first Treasure Chest Thursday post. I've decided to first display the death records of my grandparents who are deceased (three of four), and then work backwards each week to display the death records of my great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc. This exercise will also help me see where I have holes in my research. Once I finish with the death records, I will move on to marriage records, birth records, etc.

The first post here showcases the death record of my maternal grandfather, John Peter Pemberton. I chose him first because a) he died first of all my grandparents and b) I'm too lazy to scan the other death records right now. This series of posts will also inspire me to scan more documents.

I ordered this death record from the St. Clair County Clerk in Port Huron, Michigan, in 2006. He did not die in St. Clair County, but he was a resident of St. Clair County at the time of death. I was actually surprised to find a death record here. I knew from his obituary that he died in Detroit, so I assumed I would find the death record in Wayne County. One day while searching online, I found the death index for St. Clair County, with his name included. This is when I decided to order the record from St. Clair County to see what it contained.

Full name of deceased: John Peter Pemberton
Record No.: 12-557
Date of death: October 12 1970
Date of birth: November 18 1928
Age of deceased: 41 years
Male or female: Male
White, black, mulatto, etc: White
Marital status: Married - Violet Currie
Name of informant: Violet Pemberton
Address: Port Huron, Mich.
Place of death: Wayne Co.
Birth place of deceased: Michigan
Occupation of deceased: Engineer
Father's name: Jack B. Pemberton
Birthplace or residency: --
Mother's name: Mabel E. Beedon
Birthplace or residency: --
Cause of death: Adenocarcinoma of lung
Recorded: January 11, 1971

The names of my grandfather's parents are not quite correct. His father was John Vital "Jack" Pemberton, but I guess "V" for Vital could be confused with a middle initial of "B." His mother was Mabel Ellen Crysler. Her second husband's surname was Beedon, not her maiden name. She was married to Daniel Robert Beedon at the time of her son's death, so perhaps my grandmother, the informant, didn't realize that she was supposed to give the maiden name of her mother-in-law instead of the current name. In her defense, I do have to say that this record just says "mother's name" and not "mother's maiden name." Perhaps it wasn't asking for maiden name.

As I was transcribing this death record here, I noticed for the first time the lag time between when he died and when the death record was recorded. It was about 3 months. As stated in the death record, he died in Wayne County (Detroit). I have a hunch that this was recorded in St. Clair County because this is where he resided and where the property he owned was located. Since it took three months from the time of his death to record it in St. Clair County, perhaps this death record was recorded for purposes of a probate. This reminds me that I need to search the probate records in St. Clair County for his probate.

I also noticed that his parents' birthplaces are missing. Perhaps my grandmother didn't know where they were born. I would say that maybe she was too distraught to remember, but since this was recorded three months after the death, I would think that the initial stress of losing a loved one would have subsided. I know that when she died in 2008, of course they called me into the meeting room at the funeral home to answer the questions about her parents' birthplaces, and any other day I could have told you the exact town of her mother's birthplace in Canada, but at that moment, I could only remember the county because my mind went blank with the stress that had ensued after learning of her death at 3 AM that morning.

Already, this exercise has proved useful. Stay tuned next week for the Wayne County death record of John Peter Pemberton that I found in my grandmother's papers after I had already ordered this one.


  1. That is still kinda weird that the record is in St. 2nd great grandfather also died in Wayne Co..c1925 no record in Chippewa Co where he lived. I am truly baffled by that. I can't thank you enough for the link to the death index for St. Clair!!! I need to search that! Wow, thanks! I didn't spot that one before.

  2. Holly,

    The more I look at the Wayne County death record, the more it looks like this one was copied straight from it. It had to have been for a probate or something, but why couldn't they have used the Wayne County death certificate? This definitely piques my interest.

  3. I don't know....someone has the answer and I am curious too!