If there is a genealogical corollary to Murphy’s Law, it might be that the ancestor you’re looking for died one year before that state started keeping death records. (Raise your hand if that’s happened to you!) It happens so often, that I’d like to give a special “Thank you” to my 3rd-great-grandfather William H. Skinner for dying at the right time.
William was a farmer in Reading Township, Perry County, Ohio. He was born in 1809 in either Ohio or Pennsylvania (depending on which record you want to believe). He died in Reading Township 3 May 1850.
Ohio didn’t start keeping civil death records until 1867, so why am I thankful that William died in May 1850? It’s because of a wonderful “other” part of the federal census called a mortality schedule. In the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses, there was another schedule taken at the same time that was record the deaths of those who had died in the previous 12 months. The 1850 was “officially” taken on 1 June, so the mortality schedule was supposed to include those who died between 1 June 1849 and 31 May 1850. William squeaked in by dying on 3 May.
The mortality schedule tells us that he was a farmer, age 40, born in Ohio, and died in May of “liver complaint,” which he had for 11 days. (Just think — if he had lived for another month, we likely wouldn’t know what he died from. Though come to think of it, “liver complaint” is a rather catch-all term… But at least we know it was medical and not like he was run over by a runaway horse or something. With this family, I’ll take what I can get.)
William’s widow Matilda and seven of their children (including my great-great-grandfather George and 11-month-old Marion) were enumerated in Reading Township later that summer.
William is buried in Hopewell Baptist Church Cemetery in Reading Township.
- William Skinner, 1850 mortality schedule, Reading Township, Perry County, Ohio, page 925.
- William Skinner tombstone, Hopewell Baptist Cemetery, Reading Township, Perry County, Ohio. Visited the cemetery several years ago. At that time, William’s tombstone was broken and lying on the ground. It has since been restored, as seen in the photo on FindAGrave.
- Matilda Skinner household, 1850 federal census (population schedule), page 353a, household 456, family 456.
- Stephen Skinner Family Bible, The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, (Philadelphia: National Publishing Co., no date). Owned in 1983 by Bertha Stalbaum, Valparaiso, Indiana; present location unknown. Photocopy at the Ohio Genealogical Society, Bellville, Ohio.
The name “William H Skinner” struck me as familiar. Probably one of the wealthiest businessmen in Western Massachusetts at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries was William Skinner. He was a silk manufacturer of considerable renown. His mansion, Wistariahurst is a landmark museum of the Skinner Family which was donated to the City of Holyoke in 1959. Here’s a look at the Wistariahurst web site: http://wistariahurst.org/ and here’s a link to the William Skinner story http://newenglandtravels.blogspot.com/2012/01/william-skinners-silk-mills-holyoke.html. There could be an interesting connection here!
Alas, my Skinners came out of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, originally from the Channel Islands. I kinda wish I descended from the Skinners of Massachusetts, considering how well documented some of them are!
Hi Amy, I can’t believe I’ve been missing this information! I’ve never pais attention tothe mortality schedules even though I consult the original censuses all the time! I’ll be searching them now! Thanks so much for enlightening me! I know I should have known, but I didn’t and so glad to know now! Thanks, helen
You’re welcome! That’s one of the neat things about the genealogy blogging community — we all learn from each other.
I always reading your material and the latest was no exception. Two of my ancestors were polite enough to die at the “right” time and be included in the Mortality Censuses. Bless them. On another subject, I assume it was just a glitch (maybe the snow in Ohio?) but my #15 blog didn’t make it to the list this week. I posted it a bit earlier than usual because I was busy with other chores and didn’t want to forget, so I went back to check to see if I really had posted it. It’s there, so I’m going to assume this was just a glitch somewhere along the way. –Myra
Was it the “ancestor with no name” post? I included it at the bottom under “no name.” Was there another one I missed?
Thanks for the kind words — it means a lot to have you compliment my writing.
Yes. Thanks. I didn’t read far enough down. Ancestor With No Name … in this case, the wife of James Kimbro, but I didn’t exactly spell that out did I? Myra
Ah, I see that now. I’ll change it to list it under Kimbro so at least there’s sort of a name attached to her 😉
Excellent timing genealogically speaking! I always enjoy your posts. Your writing is engaging, while being detailed and concise at the same time. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you! That’s kind of you to say!
Amy, my blog was posted last night before midnight but it may have fallen off the radar?? “Oliver Amirault – He Died Where?!? (52 Ancesters – #15)
It must have been after I stopped adding to the recap. (I usually cut off on Tuesday evening so I can schedule the recap to post on Wednesday morning.) It will be on next week’s. Thanks!
Ok – thanks.
Okay, revealing my newbie status here, but where do you find the mortality schedule? If I am looking at the census on ancestry.com, for instance, is it a separate set of pages at the end, or what?