Sometimes I wonder why we have death certificates. Just about every single one I have seen has raised more questions than it has provided answers. I’ve been told by an expert genealogist that death certificates are notoriously unreliable because usually the person providing the information is a close relative still in shock and mourning the death of a loved one. No wonder Hyman’s said he was born in Philadelphia and Bessie’s said her mother’s name was Bessie. And so on.
All that leads me to today’s mysterious death certificate, that of Abraham Brotman of Brooklyn. You may recall that Abraham’s headstone revealed that his Hebrew name was Abraham ben Yosef Yaakov, just as Joseph’s revealed that his was Yosef Yaakov ben Abraham, providing me with the additional clues that helped me conclude that Abraham was Joseph’s son and Max’s brother.
(You may also recall that Max was the witness on Abraham’s naturalization application.)
I had ordered Abraham’s death certificate in order to obtain more confirmation of those relationships as well as to get some information about the place where they were all from in Galicia.
Unfortunately, Abraham’s death certificate confirmed nothing and just added to the confusion. His birth place is listed as Russia, despite the fact that every census report and his naturalization papers list his birth place as Austria. His parents’ names are listed as Harry and Anna.
I emailed Abraham’s grandchildren, Paula Newman and Morty Grossman (whose mother Ethel provided the information on the certificate), but neither of them knows anything about Abraham’s parents. So now what? Do I assume that it’s just another mistake on the death certificate? Is it more likely that the headstone is right than the death certificate? Since the place of birth is wrong, why should I trust any of the information on the death certificate? Perhaps Ethel Grossman was thinking of her mother’s parents, not her father’s parents? Abraham’s wife Bessie Brotman was born in Russia, so maybe her parents were Harry and Anna? Grrrr…now I am ordering another death certificate to see who HER parents were. But why would I trust that one either?
Very frustrating! So no new information and just more confusion.
I can’t wait to see what misinformation Max’s death certificate provides. That should be arriving in a day or so.