Update: The Coroner’s Report

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the curious death of Adolphus Nusbaum, my great-great-granduncle, son of John and Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum.  He died on February 8, 1902, on a train from Washington, DC, about 20 miles outside of Chicago, according to the family bible.  Although I found this record from Illinois regarding the transfer of his body to Philadelphia, I could not find the follow-up to the coroner’s inquest, and so I was left wondering what had happened to Adolphus.

adolph nusbaum

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11810-171514-28?cc=1320976 : accessed 19 Sep 2014), 004047863 > image 92 of 701; citing Department of Records.


My imagination went a little wild, speculating about conspiracy and murder with his wife Fanny and brother Julius running off together to Canada.  After all, I couldn’t find either Fanny or Julius on the 1910 census, and when they surfaced in 1920, they were living together as boarders in a home in Philadelphia.

But the reality was much more mundane.  With the assistance of my friend Laurel, I was able to find the results of the coroner’s inquest.  Laurel helped me figure out that the inquest would have taken place in Chicago where the body would have been delivered before it was then transported back to Philadelphia for burial. (I had been mistakenly looking in Philadelphia records.)  I then searched the Cook County index of coroner’s reports and found the one for Adolphus (listed as Adolph Nussbaum).  I ordered a copy, which arrived right before the weekend.

Adolph Nusbaum coroner's report

The report confirms that Adolphus died on the train on February 8, 1902, while en route from Washington to Chicago when the train was near Valparaiso, Indiana, which is 52 miles from Chicago.  The coroner’s inquest concluded that he died from pleurisy with effusion.  There was nothing in the report that indicated anything suspicious about the death.

The report also lists the witnesses who testified at the inquest, including Fanny Nusbaum (Fannie Nussbaum here) of Peoria, Illinois.  Although she might have testified for other reasons, it would seem likely that she testified as a witness to the death itself, meaning she was with Adolphus on the train.  The last witness, Joseph Springer, was the physician in the coroner’s office.  I don’t know who David Yondorf was; the report (cut off on the scanned copy above) states that he lived in the Lakota Hotel in Chicago and was a clothing merchant.  My guess is that he was a passenger on the train when Adolph died.

One other update about the children of John and Jeanette:  I wrote that Julius had died of dilation of the heart superinduced by acute indigestion.  My medical expert thinks that what this most likely meant is that Julius complained of acute indigestion but was really having a heart attack, leading to the heart failure that led to his death.  I was relieved to know that indigestion does not cause heart failure.


8 thoughts on “Update: The Coroner’s Report

  1. Wow, what a perfectly awful train ride. When I used to teach CPR, we were trained to tell students that a feeling of indigestion was a frequent early sign of heart attack, and to take it seriously when someone complains of it.


  2. Pingback: The Children of John and Jeanette Nusbaum from 1890 to 1925 « Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  3. I think that relief is shared by us all! Of course, sometimes it is really difficult to know the difference between indigestion and heart attack symptoms. The truth might be more mundane, but it is interesting, as I am imagining the train and him dying and seeing it all as in a movie.


    • Yes, you’re right. Reality is actually much more compelling than the crazy wild schemes we see on soap operas. I have to remember to reign in that imagination of mine!! Thanks!


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