â€œLast Residenceâ€ Is Not Always the Last Residence
The Social Security Death Index is a great resource, but keep in mind that the “last residence” shown may not be where the person died–or even where he or she ever lived! This lesson was driven home recently when I needed to look up my late mother’s Social Security number. Rather than dig through my files, I did a quick search of the SSDI, and was startled to find her “last residence” listed as my own city, though my mother never resided in the city or even the state. However, since I was her representative payee during her final months, my zip code was recorded as her “last residence.”
I found out that although the record you seek may not be found in an index, it doesn’t mean the record is not in the original document. Some twenty-three years ago, I learned that my great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Denmark NeeSmith, married a man named John Muncey “Berry” Hall, sometime after my great-great-granddad, Jimmy NeeSmith, died in Tattnall County in 1904. The 1910 census of neighboring Toombs County, Ga., where Berry and Lizzie were then living, indicated that their marriage would have occurred in 1905 or 1906. I checked the indexes to the marriage books of Toombs County and nearby Tattnall County several times, but I could find no record of this marriage, and I began to wonder if it ever happened.
There were still some older folks in the family who remembered Berry Hall, and they assured me that Grandma NeeSmith was married to him. Some years later, I purchased the microfilmed marriages of Tattnall County, Georgia, from the Georgia Archives and one night while scrolling through the marriage entries I found the record of the marriage of Lizzie to Berry Hall! There it was, right in front of me. It seems that whoever made the entry never got around to entering the marriage in the index of the book, and so it never made it in the master index of all Tattnall County marriages.
Learning About Days Gone By
When I first began genealogy research, I was interested in names, dates, and places, but soon that just wasn’t enough. I wanted to find out about my ancestors–how they lived, why they moved from one place to another, etc. Recently I asked two of my aunts (sisters) what Christmas was like when they were young. It was so interesting–from the one gift they received and how they decorated their tree (sweetgum balls wrapped in tin foil) to hanging their stockings (the ones they wore!) and the wonderful Christmas feast.
These aunts are my daddy’s sisters. Since I lost him in 1992, I’m trying to find out as much as I can about what things were like when he was young. He told lots of stories over the years, but there are many things I failed to ask him and my mother. While I still have aunts and uncles, I’m trying to get as many details as I can.
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