Thursday, September 23, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: John Peter Pemberton's Death Certficate II

I know that I promised this post about two weeks ago, but I have been terribly busy studying for the CPA exam. I expect the CPA exam to consume most of my life between now and next spring. I will try to blog at least once or twice a week during the next six months or so.

Also, I've decided to change the format of my Treasure Chest Thursday posts a bit. Instead of focusing on record type for the series, I am going to focus on people. For instance, I will first display all the records from my "treasure chest" on John Peter Pemberton, my maternal grandfather. Then I will focus on all the records of my maternal grandmother, paternal grandfather, and so forth.

Last time, I posted about the death record of my maternal grandfather, John Peter Pemberton, that was recorded in St. Clair County, Michigan. This week I will post the death record that was recorded in the city of Detroit. Yes, the man had two death records, for which I haven't quite figured out the reason.

I found this death record one day in 2007 or 2008 when I was at my maternal grandmother's house. I mentioned that I was going to have my mom sign off on some paperwork so that I could get my maternal grandfather's service records from the military personnel office in St. Louis, MO. My grandmother said that she probably had his service records, and she pulled out lots of old papers from some files in her bedroom. Well, this death record happened to be one of the papers. I was very happy, as this saved me about $25 from having to order it from the city of Detroit. In fact, I wasn't even sure if there was a record in Detroit, since I had found the one in St. Clair County, so this did confirm for me that there were two death records in two separate jurisdictions. Below is a transcription of the record:

Detroit Department of Health
Vital Statistics Division
Local File Number 14318
Certificate of Death
Deceased Name: John Peter Pemberton
Sex: Male
Date of Death: Oct. 12, 1970
Race: White
Age: 41
Date of birth: Nov. 18, 1928
County of death: Wayne
City of death: Detroit
Inside city limits: Yes
Hospital or other institution: Henry Ford Hospital
State of birth: Michigan
Citizen of what country: U.S.A.
Married, never married, widowed, divorced: Married
Surviving Spouse: Violet Currie
Social Security Number: [blank - handwritten in top righthand corner as 368-24-1966]
Usual Occupation: Engineer
Kind of business or industry: Grand Trunk Railway
Residence State: Michigan
Residence County: St. Clair
Residence City: Port Huron
Inside city limits: Yes
Street and number: 1828 Stone St.
Father-Name: Jack B. Pemberton
Mother-Maiden Name: Mabel E. Beedon
Informant Name: Violet Pemberton
Mailing Address: 1828 Stone St., Port Huron, Mich. 48060
Immediate cause of death: Adenocarcinoma of lung
Approximate interval between onset and death: 8 months
Autopsy: No
Physician attended deceased from Mar. 7, 1970 to Oct. 12, 1970
Last saw deceased alive on Oct. 12, 1970
Physician did view body after death
Death occurred at 12:49 PM
Certifier: Robert M. O'Bryan, M.D.
Signed Oct. 12, 1970
Mailing address: Henry Ford Hospital, 2799 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, Michigan 48202
Burial, cremation, removal: Burial
Cemetery or crematory: Caswell
Location: St. Clair Co. Mich.
Date: Oct. 15, 1970
Funeral home: Pollock-Jowett Funeral Home, 910 Harper Ave., Pt. Huron
Received by registrar Oct. 18, 1970

This obviously was the first death record created. It was received by the registrar in the city of his death only 6 days after his death. The one in St. Clair County was not recorded until 3 months after his death. This one is so similar to the one in St. Clair County, with the exact same mistakes made on the parents' names, that I really think the one in St. Clair County was merely copied from this one.

I noticed that the social security number was missing from the death record. I checked the social security death index at, searching by his name and then by his social security number handwritten by my grandmother on the death certificate. I can't find anything. Was his death never reported to the social security office? It seems odd that it wouldn't have been reported because he left behind six minor children. My mom was only 11 years old. Wouldn't my grandmother have received survivors' benefits from social security for his dependents? Or, is he just missing from the online social security death index? This definitely calls for some investigation. Why have I never noticed this before? I guess I never thought to look for his SS-5, since I have so much other info and sources for him. I wonder if his work for the railroad complicated things because prior to 1951, railroad workers had their own retirement insurance system. But, in 1951, railroad workers with less than 10 years of experience became eligible for social security. He started working for the railroad in 1950. aunt from Michigan is in town for a month visiting (I do have one cousin here in North Carolina, coincidentally). She is my mom's oldest sister and was 18 and already married when their dad died. She may remember if my grandmother ever received survivor benefits for the younger children. I'm going to have to pick her brain this weekend.

I'm sure glad I started participating in the Treasure Chest Thursday series. It's making me see holes I never noticed before.


  1. Hi Jennifer, thank you for your lovely comment on my blog. I just read this post and have an idea -- what about draft registration records? Perhaps these would show the social security number.

    That's interesting about the railroad workers possibly have their own retirement insurance system. I look forward to reading more about your investigation and catching up on your archives.

    Good luck studying!


  2. Well, my mom said that she is pretty sure my grandmother got benefits, so I'm going to try to order the SS-5 and see what happens.

  3. The social security number written in on the death record seems to match with his serviceman's application for readjustment of wages.