Monday, August 18, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: Death Certificate of Moshe Leyb Cruvant - 1911

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I began this project back on February 16, 2009. Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe and share their family history documents. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.

This week I transcribe the death certificate of my second great grandfather, Moshe Leyb (Morris Louis) Cruvant.

Certificate And Record of Death Register No: 31532
1. Full Name: Morris L. Cruvant
2. (a) Sex: M (b) Color: W. (c) Married
3. (a) Birthplace: Russia (b) Date of Birth: July 1, 1857
4. Age: 54 Years 3 Months
5. Died on the 26 Day of September 1911 at about 1125PM
6. Last Occupation: Merchant From 1900-1911
7. Previous Occupation: Tailor From 1881-1900
8. Place of Death: 1307 St. Louis Ave, East St. Louis County of St. Clair
9. How Long in State: 11 years
10. How Long in US (if Foreign Born): 35 years
11. (a) Name of Father: Aron Cruvant (b) Birthplace of Father: Russia
12. (a) Maiden Name of Mother: Unknown(b) Birthplace of Mother: Unknown
The foregoing stated personal particulars are true to the best of my knowledge and belief
13. Informant: David Cruvant Address: 1307b St. Louis Ave
14. Place of Burial: Hashaschelomus St. Louis Mo Date of Burial: Sept 27, 1911 1pm
15. Undertaker: H.B. Berger Address: St. Louis, Mo
Physician’s Certificate of Cause of Death
I hereby certify that I attended the Deceased from Aug 20 1911 to Sept 26 1911; that I last saw alive on the 26 day of September 1911. That death occurred on the date stated above, at about 1125pm and that to the best of my knowledge and belief the cause of his death was as Hereunder Written
(If Under One Year Old, State How Fed.)
(a) Cause of Death: Carcinoma of Liver
(b) Contributory (secondary) [blank]
Witness my hand (signature) illegible Address: (illegible) Bldg, East. St. Louis, Ill.

1) The first thing I do when looking at a certificate is look for obvious errors.

He was born in Lithuania, though from 1795-1918 it was under control of Russia, so Russia is accurate for his birthplace.

Though there is a place on the form where indicating age to include number of days, his age was rounded up to the next month. It should say 54 years, 2 months, 26 days.

It's questionable whether he had been in the US for 35 years. That would mean an immigration year of 1876 at age 19, which isn't impossible, but his eldest son who was born about 1883 is believed to have been born in Lithuania. It is believed they were in the US by 1886/7 when my great grandmother was born. Perhaps 35 should be 25.

2) I like that there was a question for both Occupation and Previous Occupation. I don't see that on many death certificates, and it provides a year for when he changed professions. Of course, the accuracy of the years is completely dependent upon the memory of the informant, his second eldest child. In this case, the city directories confirm the dates.

3) The place of burial isn't a truly horrible spelling for what I am sure whoever wrote it down heard. They probably didn't ask the informant how to spell it, because I suspect he could have done a better job. It should say: Chesed Shel Emeth.

4) The only facts on a death certificate for which I consider the death certificate a primary source is the Date/Time of Death, Place of Death, Cause of Death, and Place of Burial. That is, I trust the recordings of the doctor and undertaker. For the rest of the information I take into consideration who the informant was, and how much they are likely to know. In this case, the informant being his son, 26 years old at the time, the reliability is pretty good.

5) Since he died on the 26th of September, 1911, after sunset, that converts to the 5th of Tishrei, 5672, which corresponds with what is inscribed on his tombstone.

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