23 September 2011

Whaddya Mean You "Don't Know"?

Yesterday I shared with you an obituary for James Vardeman Matson, Jr. He was a distant cousin of mine; a son of Mary Elizabeth Catherine Lincecum Matson. Today I'd like you to take a look at his death certificate.


Did you notice the cause of death section? I was a bit surprised to see the entry read, "Don't know; probably due to heart failure."


Forgive me, but, well, um, DUH! Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a doctor, and I know sometimes a good bit of digging needs to be done before a cause of death can be definitively determined, and if an autopsy was not deemed necessary, yadda, yadda, yadda. (No need for nasty comments from medical professionals.) I just guess the "Don't know" caught me a bit off guard. In defense of Dr. Aynesworth, the attending physician, he had only been with cousin James for about four days in a sanitarium. It was also indicated that a contributory factor was mild pleurisy.

The certificate also states James was buried in "Hubbard Cemetery." I can help clarify this thanks to FindAGrave. James Vardeman Matson, Jr. was laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery in Hubbard, Hill County, Texas. Sherry Garrett Franklin provided the photo.

On an off topic note, my vital records course at the National Institute of Genealogical Studies encourages me to practice properly citing my vital documents. So here's the citation for the death certificate above:

"Texas Deaths, 1890-1976," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 22 September 2011), death certificate image, James Vardeman Matson, 15 June 1931, no. 29975, Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics.

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