Last month I wrote about requesting death certificates for August and Anna Schulz. Michigan’s state records department found and sent them to me a lot faster than I was expecting, which was a double bonus considering that I wasn’t even sure they would have them on record! Though I didn’t get all the information I was hoping for, I definitely got some clues to help narrow what would have otherwise been a very blind search process.
I requested and received certified copies with official embossed seals. It’s kind of funny to have such official documents when I really just wanted to copy. It cost a little more than the cheaper option, wherein I would have received a typed transcript via email, but it was important for me to see every little detail with my own eyes so I’m certain that I have ALL the information. And now I have that for my files. Yay!
Let’s start with information culled from August’s death certificate (view/download PDF), since I received his first.
I was hoping to document his birth date, birth city, mother’s maiden name, and cause of death. Here’s what I found, with relevant sections highlighted in the image above:
- Birth date: May 17, 1874 (score!)
- Birthplace: “Ger” which is the lazy registrar’s way of writing Germany. Darn—city still unknown. The form doesn’t even call for it.
- Name and birthplace of father: Anton Schulz, born in Germany. Again, no city.
- Name and birthplace of mother: Josephine Schulz, born in Germany. Still not helpful!
- Mother’s maiden name: Unconfirmed. I don’t doubt other family documents listing it as Munski, I was just hoping for something official to go by.
- Cause of death: Typhoid fever. Ugh. It makes me squeamish to think about how August must have suffered before his untimely death.
- Age at time of death: 32 years, 5 months. I’m calling this out because that was my exact age when I received his death certificate. That definitely made me pause to reflect on my own mortality.
- Place of death: 692 Wessen, Detroit (Ward 16). No hospital information is provided, so that’s likely where the Schulz family was living at the time. According to Google Maps, there is a Wesson Avenue in Detroit near I-94 and Livernois. That might be the right area based on info from Anna’s death certificate, which I’ll explain in my next post.
- Age at first marriage: 24. So that would be 1898 or 1899, indicating that his first child (my great-grandma Hedwig) was born in wedlock.
- Number of children: “Parent of 3 children, of which 2 are living.” Very interesting. I know he had three daughters, one of whom was in utero when he died. Is it possible that there was another child who had predeceased him? Or does the record count his unborn daughter (Clara) as a non-living child?
- Occupation: “Lbr.” As expected, he was a laborer.
So! A lot of information about August, both in terms of genealogical clues and in developing some insight into his life. As a German immigrant, he worked as a laborer for only 3 to 5 years before his life was cut short by disease. He wasn’t even in the United States long enough to be counted in a census. Could he read and write? Did he even speak English? I might never know.
But I have a birth date and his age at marriage. Knowing that his first daughter was born in Danzig within a year or two after he and Anna married means that I at least have a region and two-year timeframe to help me locate a marriage record. Plus, there’s some additional information about Anna that I’ll be sharing soon!