Monday, July 1, 2013

A Grave Puzzle

I just came across a good example of why it's a good idea of making  a practice of double checking any information that you have. 

After writing about Ada Winchell, I looked up her sister Rachel Almira, who was born on 3 Sep 1864 in the Town of Great Barrington.  On 10 Oct 1882, she married James L. Lee, born 18 Mar 1853in West Stockbridge, the son of Abram and Mary Jane Lee.  According to Tombstone Inscriptions: Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Vol. 2., the couple had a daughter named Alda who was born 10 June 1883 and died 15 November 1885. Rachel herself died 3 July 1886 of phthusis pulumates, a fancy name for tuberculosis.

I wanted to see what the child's cause of death was so I went to Familysearch to look for a death record.  Nothing came up so I decided to search on the father's name.  Imagine my surprise when I found a birth record for a son named Winfred L. Lee, born 7 June 1883.  He did die on 15 Nov 1885 from tubercular meningitis.  How did this child's gender and first name change in the records?  Below are excerpts from the Town of Great Barrington records documenting Winfred's existence.

No doubt Winfred Leonardi's short life is one reason why these errors have gone uncorrected for so long.  His middle name makes me wonder how imaginative his parents were.

Rachel was not  James' first wife.  He married Martha M. Tucker, the daughter of William and Maria T. Tucker, on 21 Oct 1874 in Lee, Berkshire County, Mass.  They had a daughter, Martha C. Lee born 26 Jul 1875 in Lee.  Unfortunately she died 6 Mar 1876 in the same locality.   The gender for the child is correct, but her death was nine years earlier and in a different location.  At a cursory look there are two cemeteries in Lee and several nearby in Lenox.  Winfred/Alda is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Housatonic.  The information on "Alda" Lee must be the result of an error in transcribing the tombstone records.  This is also a good illustration of the value of original, or primary, records. 

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