Tuesday, July 12, 2016

FamilySearch Find: Deaths in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

Are you overlooking some online records at FamilySearch? Here's one example of a digitized non-indexed collection that isn't on the site's list of published collections.

Image from end of death register book,
Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, 1891

Allegheny City in Pennsylvania wasn't annexed by Pittsburgh until 1907, so deaths for both cities were recorded separately prior to that time. That means if you look at the FamilySearch collection "Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905," you won't find my Uncle Emil's 1903 death record. While there doesn't appear to be a similar death record collection for Allegheny City, it is in fact on the site and available for online viewing.

My French 3rd great-uncle, Emile Wey, arrived in the United States in 1871. Known as Emil in America, he would marry, have 6 children, and build a life in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Emil died in Allegheny City on May 4, 1903, which was provided by his newspaper obituary. Knowing exactly when he died is fantastic, but I wanted to know why he died at the young age of 54.

If you click on "Browse all published collections" on the FamilySearch site, you won't see a record set for Allegheny City deaths. But FamilySearch actually does have these records digitized and available to browse in its collection called "Registrations of deaths in the city of Allegheny, 1876-1907." Each listed record group with a picture of a camera under "Format" means it can be viewed online. (A reel means you have to order the microfilm for viewing at your local Family History Center.)

Glancing at the thumbnail images will give you a sense of where the handwritten surname index starts for each volume; it's usually somewhere in the middle and not at the beginning or end due to the way the book scans were saved. And sometimes there's a second index further down in the same file where the next book of death records begins. You can use these indexes to locate the page number of the death record.

My Uncle Emil did indeed die on May 4, 1903, due to "abcess [sic] of liver." The record also states that he had resided at 707 Middle Street in the 3rd Ward for 30 years and that he was buried in St. Peter's Cemetery on May 7th (although a photo of his headstone on FindAGrave indicates that he's in Highwood Cemetery).

By browsing for other relatives, I found cousin August Huber who died in 1882 at 7 weeks of age due to eclampsia, as well as another cousin's father-in-law who died in 1903 of "mania a potu" or madness from drinking. I had their dates of death from other sources (church record for the first and a newspaper obituary for the second), but now I have more details, including where they are buried.

Be sure to search the FamilySearch Catalog for your ancestors' towns to see if digitized images are available. As this example shows, some online records don't appear on the published collections list.

Note: "Registration of births in the city of Allegheny, 1878-1907" is also available on FamilySearch, although five years are missing.

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