Sunday, April 24, 2016

Trusting information in Obituaries

This week I was very fortunate to connect with a new highly probable cousin on my paternal great-grandmother’s Terry side.  As always, it’s so exciting to find someone you are probably related to who also enjoys talking about our ancestors and piecing together the information we may both have separately in order to learn more about our ancestors.  This sparked me on to look at my paternal great-great grandfather Gilbert Terry of Peconic and Orient, New York.
I started by looking at what I already knew at this point about Gilbert:
  • Gilbert was born to Walter Franklin Terry and Elizabeth Ann Tooker Terry on 25 June 1833 in Patchogue, Suffolk County, NY.  Gilbert was the 3rd of 10 children; Walter Franklin, Albert Bunce, Gilbert T., Edward Henry, Elizabeth Frances, Ira Brewster, Emily A., Josephine Virginia, Amelia and Charles.
  • Gilbert married Almeda Vincent Robinson on 21 October 1857.
  • Gilbert and Almeda had 5 children; Carrie Eliza (my great-grandmother), Ella Frances, Forrest, Millard E. and an unnamed infant daughter.
  • I know that Gilbert ran the Mill in Peconic for many years.  (More information about this in a future blog.)
  • Gilbert died on 27 April 1907 in Orient, Suffolk County, NY. and is buried beside his wife Almeda, infant daughter, sons Forrest and Millard at The New Bethany Cemetery in Mattituck, Suffolk County, NY.

Terry family stone
Terry Gilbert headstone
Gilbert death certif
Interesting that some information on his death certificate is incorrect.  I thought the primary cause of death was interesting.  I would have expected the primary and secondary to be the other way around.  Gilbert was actually 73 since he died about 2 months before his 74th birthday.  I also laughed at his occupation being listed as a ‘Farmer’ knowing that he had run the Peconic Mill for about 34 years.
Then I decided to look at an Obituary that I had and realized I actually had 3.  As I reviewed the information in each I realized that there was a variety of information and that some of the information wasn’t as accurate as I thought it would be.  Since these weren’t my first pieces of information I was surprised to see the discrepancies. 
Obituary 1-I believe this is from the newspaper The Long Island Traveler
“Gilbert Terry, a well known and highly esteemed citizen of Orient, died suddenly last Saturday afternoon of heart disease,  He was 78 years old.  Mr. Terry was well know in Peconic and Mattituck, where he formerly resided.  He leaves a widow and one son Forrest Terry, as well as two brothers and three sisters.  A short funeral service was conducted Tuesday at his late home; then the remains were taken to Mattituck, where services were conducted in the M. E. Church.”
Obituary 2-From The County Review dated 3 May 1907 page 4
Gilbert Terry, a well-known resident of this place, died suddenly last Saturday afternoon of hear disease.  Mr. Terry was well known in Mattituck and Peconic, where he formerly lived.  He was 73 years of age.  The internment was at Mattituck on Monday afternoon.”
same issue page 5
Orient, April 27-Gilbert Terry, aged 73 years.  Internment at Mattituck.”
Obituary 3- From the newspaper The Riverhead News dated May 4, 1907
“Baiting Hollow
Mrs. John B. Warner received word on Saturday, April 27, of the sudden death of her father, Gilbert Terry, of Orient, on that date.  Mr. Terry had been writing his daughter only a few days before his death, and was then in his usual good health.”
I thought it interesting in Obituary 1 that Gilbert is listed as only having 1 son and no daughters.  At the time of his death his 2 daughters, Carrie Terry Warner and Ella Terry Billard, were still living but not mentioned.  If I hadn’t known and was looking for information I would have been mislead.  Gilbert actually had 5 brothers and 4 sisters.  Perhaps the obituary is only referring to the ones still living?  I don’t have all the death dates for his siblings so I will need to follow-up on that one.
I wish I had that last letter she received from her father.  In some of her letters to her sister (see blog posts labeled Carrie’s letters to read more about the letters she wrote to her family) it seems that her father may have been a little disappointed in her for not visiting more often.
Lessons learned-Be careful!! Don’t believe everything you read and remember that an obituary may be able to give you some leads but it may also omit some valuable information as well.
If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,
Thanks, Fred for taking time to talk about our Terry Family and possible connections.  I look forward to continuing our discussions and work!

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