In July, I sent $8 and a photocopy of my driver’s license to the Indiana Department of Health, with a request for the death certificate of Andrew Maurer, late of Marshall, Clark County, Illinois.
(“But if he lived in Illinois, why did you….” He may have lived in Illinois, but he died in Terre Haute. Thanks for asking!)
The IDH promised to get back to me in “four to six weeks”. This struck me as a bit long – how hard is it to retrieve a death certificate from the archives, run off a copy & stuff it in an envelope? – but I had no other options. So I resolved myself to patience & turned my mind to other things.
So I was quite surprised to find in yesterday’s mail a letter from the Indiana Department of Health. It seemed too quick. Perhaps they have denied my request, thought I. (Government agencies can’t always tell the difference between genealogy and identity theft. To prevent the one, they lock down their records; but that does rather interfere with the other.)
But the letter contained a certified copy of Andrew Maurer’s death certificate, along with an apologetic note:
Since many of the older records were printed on very porous paper, the copy(s) enclosed may appear blurred and or partially illegible. Due to the age and condition of the original document, this is the best reproduction that can be made. We are sorry we can not furnish a more satisfactory document.
I suppose with careful attention to the copier’s contrast settings, a slightly more easily-read copy might have been produced; but this one is legible enough.
Genealogically speaking, though, it’s pretty much a bust. It has Andrew’s name, address, age; spouse’s name; all things I already knew from other sources. It has some new information: cause of death, ‘fractured temporal bone / ruptured temporal artery’; and his father’s name, Jacob Maurer. But his mother’s name – the one piece of information I needed, to link him to the Maurers of White County – was not provided.
An obituary might have more information. Perhaps I can have the relevant microfilm delivered to the Urbana Free Library & search for one.