Monday, March 29, 2010

Help! Can a man really die twice????

Maybe someone out there in the genealogy world can figure this one out.  There's probably a very simple explanation...hopefully someone understands these documents better than I do.

It all started when I was trying to find Civil War records for my great-great grandfather, John Johns (born OH between 1840 and 1842).  John's wife was Cynthia Pilgrim; they were married 3 Sep 1862 in Dakota county, NE (Vol. 1, Pg. 47).

My first stop was  Footnote where I found the following THREE Civil War Pension records.  I believe it's the same person because the certificate number is the same, 500787.
At the bottom of each card is "Died" and a date.  Two of the cards have Oct. 13 1910 in Monte Vista, CA (which is in Placer county), but the other one has Dec. 10, 1920 in Del Paso Heights, CA (which is in Sacramento county).

How can he die on two different dates...ten years apart??? Help...can someone explain this to me?

To re-enforce that this John Johns is my John Johns...I have Margretta (Blay) Johns' address book which has a notation of "John Johns Del Paso Heights California." Margretta was John's daughter-in-law (married to his son, Robert William Johns).  Del Paso is the location of death at the bottom of the first card (above).
On Ancestry I found two records for John Johns in the "U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938" database.  Again...these appear to be the same person as they have the same pension certificate number of 500787.
In the first record his wife is listed as Carrie.  Could Carrie be Cynthia? Is it a variation of the name Cynthia, or is this another wife?  I last found Cynthia in the 1880 census (living in Nebraska), by 1900 she is gone and he's listed as a widow (living in Denver, Colorado).  In the 1910 census (enumerated on 16 Apr 1910) he's still in Denver, Colorado but is now living with his daughter, Hattie (Johns) Smith and her family.  He's still listed as a widower.  In the second veteran's home record above, his wife is listed as Frances...what?  Another wife?  You've got to be kidding...  Could they make this any more confusing?  By the way...the age listed in both records indicates his age when he entered the veteran's home.

In the 1920 U.S. Census (enumerated 23 Mar 1920) I can find a John Johns at the National Military Home in Malibu, Los Angeles county, CA.  He has the right age and birth location.  But there is also another John Johns (with the right age and birth location) living in Malibu, Los Angeles county, CA (enumerated 5 Jan 1920) living with his wife, Fraces(sic).  How could this be him when the veteran's home record above indicates he was admitted 27 Dec 1919 and released 10 Aug 1920?

So...are you as confused as I am?  Does anyone out there want to take a shot at helping me figure this out?  Come brave...


Myrt said...

You've got me stumped!

This is only going to be solved by obtaining a photocopy of his COMPLETE pension file from the National Archives in Washington DC.

So glad we talked about this in Second Life tonight. For your readers, more information can be found at

Good blogging, kiddo!
Myrt :)

Anonymous said...

My Dearie,
You have quite a problem. (With the John JOHNS, not YOU personally!)
I looked at the CA VitalSearch records (You should still have my UN/PW if you've kept your e-mails for the last few years. If not call me.) There is only one John JOHNS listed with the death date of 10 Dec 1920. Death cert 47664.; Sacto County; age 85; spouse initial "F".
There is not a John JOHNS listed that died in 1910.
Have you obtained a copy of any death certs yet? Therein may lie a few clues.
Otherwise, does the Nebraska Calvary have any info online or available thru writing to them?
Can you contact or visit Placer County for death records?

Maybe John JOHNS and John JOHNS were cousins?
Good luck! Lorraine Schultz