Why can’t I find record of my GGGrandFather’s death?

by admin on May 26, 2010

Stephen P. Williamson was born in 1856 Arkansas. I found him in a census in 1860 with his family there. I found him in 1876 when he married in Texas. I found him in 1880 with his wife and some of his children in Texas Montague. I was told by my Father he died in Del Rio, Texas and then his wife, my GGGrandMother Betty (Welch)Williamson moved on to Bisbee, AZ. But I cannot find any record of his death. I believe he would have to have died after 1919 according my findings.

Since Val Verede County is on the Mexican border, do you suppose that he could have died over the border in Mexico?

Wow, this family really is a challenge.

The first thing I found was a death certificate for Fonc Williamson, son of Steve Williamson and Betty Welch. He was born feb 19, 1883 in Arkansas and died May 4, 1940 in Wellbon, Yuma County, Arizona. I thought that this was a unique name so i thought i would try to follow him through the census. Here is a link to his death certificate:

http://genealogy.az.gov/azdeath/063/10630535.pdf

His name is mistranscribed in the World War I draft cards. He is indexed as "Ford" rather than Fonc. The cards were completed in 1917-1918 and he was in Cochise county, Arizona proving that he was in the state before 1920.

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
about Ford Williamson
Name: Ford Williamson
City: Not Stated
County: Cochise
State: Arizona
Birth Date: 19 Feb 1882
Race: White
Roll: 1522348
DraftBoard: 0

I couldn’t find him in 1930, but I did find him living with his mother in 1920 in Cochise county, Arizona. Also in the house hold is his sister Maud. It clearly states that Mary E. (Betty a nickname for Elizabeth) is widowed.

Source Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: McNeal, Cochise, Arizona; Roll: T625_46; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 800.
Indexed as Fanc S Williamson

Williamson, Fanc head male white 37 years old single born in Arkansas
Williamson, Mary E mother female white 60 years old widowed born in Texas
Williamson, Maud L sister female white 28 years old.

From this census, we would have to surmise that the family was there before 1920 and that Stephen P Williamson died prior to that.

I can’t find the family in 1910. I do find his brother Noat in Menard county, Texas with wife Belle and two kids Steven L. and Olie. Steven was born in New mexico in 1904 creating yet another place to look for answers.

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Justice Precinct 6, Menard, Texas; Roll: T624_1574; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 162; Image: 1331.

By the time of the World War I draft cards, Noat was in cochise county too with brother Lonc. His card was signed on September 12, 1918.

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
about Noat Arch Williamson
Name: Noat Arch Williamson
City: Not Stated
County: Cochise
State: Arizona
Birth Date: 5 Nov 1879
Race: White
Roll: 1522348
DraftBoard: 0

Virgil was also there in Coshise county according to his draft card completed on the same day, September 12, 1918.
World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
about Virgil Mair Williamson
Name: Virgil Mair Williamson
City: Not Stated
County: Cochise
State: Arizona
Birth Date: 17 Jul 1884
Race: White
Roll: 1522348
DraftBoard: 0

As you can see, you have several different directions you can go in. I’m pretty well convinced that Stephen died before 1920 because it seems like his family was in Arizona by 1918.

I think that finding him in 1910 may be key. He is definitely in Val Verde in 1900. Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Justice Precinct 3, Val Verde, Texas; Roll: T623 1675; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 75.
He is not indexed by first name because it is illegible, but Noat for example is indexed as Notie A and Betty is indexed as Elizabeth.

I could send you any of the images listed above if you would like to have them. Just e-mail me through my profile.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirley T May 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm

You might try writing to the County Clerk of Val Vede County in Del Rio. Just address it to the Val Vede County Courthouse.

Not all records are on line. Before the 20th century, many vital records are in churches, baptisms, marriages, deaths.

Texas started getting vital records from the counties in 1903. Even then a lot of records were not sent to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. I understand it wasn’t until after WW 2 that the counties were required to send the information to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Austin.

In rural areas, particularly, and when people were born at home a lot of it wasn’t recorded anywhere. I have joked that those people were a lot smarter than we are today. They didn’t need a piece of paper to tell them that someone had been born or had died. They had enough sense to see that.

I have a great grandfather that died in a Confederate Veterans Home in Austin in 1914 and there is no record of his death except his tombstone.
References :

ZinaRae May 26, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I looked on Ancestry.com only found census the same census records you did. Death records are sometimes harder to find on people before there was SS records. Back in the early 1900’s people died at home as well as were born at home. Sometimes the only records of peoples lives were the family bible.

Try searching the net for cemeteries in Texas. Some cemeterie occupants have been posted on the web and sometimes you get lucky and someone has taken a picture of the Headstone. As far as Documentation for your family tree, such a picture works very well.

Don’t speed a lot of time on it. If you can’t find anything give it a break and come back to it. Sometimes it takes a while for the new stuff to get on line. New Information is being posted all the time!

Good luck!
References :

wendy c May 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm

http://www.historictexas.net/valverde/
Well, for starters, this is the site for Val Verde county. It DOES include the 1910 census, which did not include your family’s name. There is mention on the site of LDS films with death records from the county, but those films are not online. The records exist, however. Some counties have transcribed all cemeteries… this is not one of those counties.
If it were me… I’d be picking apart every possible record concerning his children.. ie, where were they in 1900 or 1910? Family group sheet with all of the kids, and their details, may well show a migration pattern, giving clues as to where the record could be. If you have valid reason to document that he was in that county, land records may also have information. I am also familiar with Montague co (daughter lives there), and records there may indicate when he left. Again… records exist, but not online.
Keep pulling what you do have.. clarify where there are gaps, and other sources for related info. Not to dispute Dad.. but it is also possible that Del Rio is not correct.
References :

Tamara M May 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I found a Stephen P. Williamson in the 1880 Census in Montague Texas with wife named Mary. It is possible that this is a different man, or a different wife. You can determine this by matching children’s names and ages to what you already know. To work forward, my advice would be to try checking city directories for 1890, and then the US Census for 1900, 1910, and perhaps 1920. If you are certain of Arkansas as a birthplace, that can help you narrow down census results.

As far as a death record goes, if you have no documentation for him after a certain date, start there when looking through death indexes, and move forward. If you haven’t found him in the 1920 Census, chances are he died before the census date in 1920.

Check with the State Archives in Texas to see if they have any death record indexes, and give them the year span that you have narrowed down based on other documentation. Check to see when death records began to be required in the area you are searching. In some states, it was around 1920, so if he died before then, there wouldn’t necessarily be a public record, but you can still find other records if you are creative.

If you are certain that he died in TX, you can contact cemeteries near where his surviving family lived, or from where his parents’ generation is buried. Work on finding death records for his widow, and see if it says where she is buried on her death certificate. If you can find that, check with the same cemetery for him.

Hope this helps, and you can email me for further ideas.

Good luck with your search!.
References :

HSK's mama May 26, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Since Val Verede County is on the Mexican border, do you suppose that he could have died over the border in Mexico?

Wow, this family really is a challenge.

The first thing I found was a death certificate for Fonc Williamson, son of Steve Williamson and Betty Welch. He was born feb 19, 1883 in Arkansas and died May 4, 1940 in Wellbon, Yuma County, Arizona. I thought that this was a unique name so i thought i would try to follow him through the census. Here is a link to his death certificate:

http://genealogy.az.gov/azdeath/063/10630535.pdf

His name is mistranscribed in the World War I draft cards. He is indexed as "Ford" rather than Fonc. The cards were completed in 1917-1918 and he was in Cochise county, Arizona proving that he was in the state before 1920.

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
about Ford Williamson
Name: Ford Williamson
City: Not Stated
County: Cochise
State: Arizona
Birth Date: 19 Feb 1882
Race: White
Roll: 1522348
DraftBoard: 0

I couldn’t find him in 1930, but I did find him living with his mother in 1920 in Cochise county, Arizona. Also in the house hold is his sister Maud. It clearly states that Mary E. (Betty a nickname for Elizabeth) is widowed.

Source Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: McNeal, Cochise, Arizona; Roll: T625_46; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 800.
Indexed as Fanc S Williamson

Williamson, Fanc head male white 37 years old single born in Arkansas
Williamson, Mary E mother female white 60 years old widowed born in Texas
Williamson, Maud L sister female white 28 years old.

From this census, we would have to surmise that the family was there before 1920 and that Stephen P Williamson died prior to that.

I can’t find the family in 1910. I do find his brother Noat in Menard county, Texas with wife Belle and two kids Steven L. and Olie. Steven was born in New mexico in 1904 creating yet another place to look for answers.

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Justice Precinct 6, Menard, Texas; Roll: T624_1574; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 162; Image: 1331.

By the time of the World War I draft cards, Noat was in cochise county too with brother Lonc. His card was signed on September 12, 1918.

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
about Noat Arch Williamson
Name: Noat Arch Williamson
City: Not Stated
County: Cochise
State: Arizona
Birth Date: 5 Nov 1879
Race: White
Roll: 1522348
DraftBoard: 0

Virgil was also there in Coshise county according to his draft card completed on the same day, September 12, 1918.
World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
about Virgil Mair Williamson
Name: Virgil Mair Williamson
City: Not Stated
County: Cochise
State: Arizona
Birth Date: 17 Jul 1884
Race: White
Roll: 1522348
DraftBoard: 0

As you can see, you have several different directions you can go in. I’m pretty well convinced that Stephen died before 1920 because it seems like his family was in Arizona by 1918.

I think that finding him in 1910 may be key. He is definitely in Val Verde in 1900. Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Justice Precinct 3, Val Verde, Texas; Roll: T623 1675; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 75.
He is not indexed by first name because it is illegible, but Noat for example is indexed as Notie A and Betty is indexed as Elizabeth.

I could send you any of the images listed above if you would like to have them. Just e-mail me through my profile.
References :

grannytoad May 26, 2010 at 6:46 pm

He may even had died al otro lado del rio. Back to my same-old song&dance, make a post at the Val Verde County message boards asking about his burial. Maybe also contact the genealogy society asking if anyone’s got a cemetery master list. Mmmmm you may also want to do the same at Cochise Co, AZ. http://www.historictexas.net/valverde/

Ennywayz. 1900 he’s enumerated with only a surname at Val Verde County. Noname & Elizabeth (Mary Elizabeth?) and this pile of kids named Lonzo, Notie (Noat?), Arnara (Ford? Fonc? Alfonso?), Vergil, Verdie, Maudie, & Elvy.

[Guess what. A whole interrelated group I research at one time or another shortly after the turn of the 20th century got on a train in Del Rio and headed west, got off the train in BFNowhere AZ then headed south with all their worldly goods into Cochise County. Yes right about that same time. A few for whatever reason went to CA at that time and folks swapped places (!!) between AZ CA & TX for a while. The later generation seems to have abandoned AZ for the greater part.]

*I’ve not driven the whole route but it’s not impossible that 1910 it could be that they took the mexican route from Ciudad Juarez to Agua Prieta then to Bisbee with their own wagon of Stuff & kids.

What’s left of your bunch may be at McNeal, Cochise Co, AZ 1920.

o look here:
1860 Clay, Columbia, Arkansas
Elija Williamson 53
T??Lla a 37
Josaphine 14, Andrew 9, Stephen 5, Rachael 4

1910 Whitewater, Cochise, Arizona;
Roll: T624_38; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 17; Image: 1061
WILLIAMSON Andrew 59 wid AR GA AL teamster general

About Whitewater – I think it was etj’d into McNeal & Elfrida. BTW brother Andrew I think had a daughter named Florence widow of Thomas Benjamine HAMPTON.

On his WWI draft card 12Sep1918 Virgil was 34, tall, slender, grey eyes, brown hair, nearest relative Martha Williamson at General Delivery, Lowell. He worked at mining at C&A Copper Co at Bisbee.

Noat Arch Williamson 5 Nov 1879 also lived at Lowell, was a timberman for Calumet Arizona Mining at Bisbee. Medium height and build, blue eyes, brown hair, wife Belle, same date.

Same day, Ford 19 Feb 1882, also a miner with C&A at Bisbee, lives with mother at Lowell, medium height & build, grey eyes, dark brown hair. Notice only mother mentioned.

(Ford, Fonc, ? I think I found Fons 1930 Wahmonie, Nye Co, Nevada, a miner. 1,2 other guys I recognize from the WWI draft are up there at Tonopah.)

(Maybe the place to look, Lowell? A mining accident at Bisbee? Maybe family lore was right and the sons & family took off for mining jobs to support the family and be near widowed uncle Andrew after Stephen’s death in TX sometime in the 19teens.)

They all went in together as a bunch that day, a gathering of the clan. Cousin John Elija 22 Aug 1873 lives with Andrew at McNeal, farms. Tall, medium build, blue eyes dark hair too.

There’s a Carl who runs a pool hall but said he’s not related to anyone he knows.

You may have already found this. Stephen’s apparently not there. http://www.mycochise.com/cembisbeew.php

http://www.mycochise.com/groomsa2b.php Elva married James M Beckett 6Mar1918 at Lowell.

http://www.mycochise.com/cemmcneal.php McNeal Cem; calling Andrew Sr implies a Jr. He died 1936, Stephen’s not there, either.

I am very curious why you have reason to think he died later than 1919 since we now know the family had moved to AZ earlier. I have a hunch your dad or other family oldies may know some other key piece of this tale "they ain’t told yet".
References :

martinjody_36 May 26, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I’ve been able to trace my family back 7 generations mostly by searching the SSDI-Social Security Death Index, which didn’t start until early 1900’s. The other tool I use is Ancestry.com, I’ve found everyone I’ve looked for so far. Also if you know what town and city he grew up in, usually if you surf the back issues of the towns newspaper obituaries you’ll probably find him.
References :
SSDI,Ancestry.com

Daniel R May 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Check the Del Rio,Texas courhouse for death records.
References :

Linda Williamson Darr April 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

since I wrote this request I have found out that my great grandfather Stephen P Williamson was murdered in Val Verde in Nov 1912. Some relatives of mine I found in CA had papers or an older relative said he was herding sheep down by the Rio Grande and he never returned home. Can anyone direct in a direction to find info on this? Thank you in advance.
Linda Williamson Darr

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