Monday, March 15, 2010

Is there a story behind the certificate???

Sometimes we, as genealogists, focus on events and their corresponding sources (certificates, registers, etc).  We tend to overlook the story behind those events or documents. Get the certificate, get the proof and move on to another ancestor.  But...

I was recently going through my file folder for Henry Prehn (my great-great grandfather) and his descendants.  Entering data, organizing and scanning documents, researching on-line, etc.  Henry's son, Walter Lawrence Prehn Sr., lived in Texas.  So off I went to look for available Texas records.  My first stop was FamilySearch Record Search where I found the death certificate for Margaret Ann Prehn (Walter L. Prehn Jr.'s daughter).
The cause of death is listed as "pulomary hemorrhage" and "severe 3rd degree burns."  There are other notations like..."clothing caught on fire," This made me want to find the story behind the certificate.  So I went to my favorite newspaper site - Genealogy Bank.  There I found the sad tale...

It was Christmas day 1953, and little Margaret had been given a grass skirt as a Christmas present.  She had the skirt on...I can just picture her spinning around and watching the grass twirl..., but she got too close to a heater.  The skirt caught fire and she was badly burned.  She survived 5 months, but her little body was just too damaged, she died 16 May 1954.  The story was carried in the 17 May 1954 issue of the Dallas Morning News (TX) newspaper, pg. 10.
Are you like me?  Do you want to find the story behind the facts?  I can't even begin to imagine how devasted Margaret's parents were.  To have such a happy ocassion go so horribly wrong - it's heartbreaking.

Now to find out why she was buried in Palo Alto, California...hmmm...another story behind the story?

1 comment:

The Scrappy Genealogist said...

What a tragic story. A little girl's suffering remembered because you cared enough to find it. Thank you for sharing. I love the background of your blog by the way. Still trying to figure out how to do that. Enjoyed meeting you on SL tonight.