Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mystery Monday - Is This the Same Person?

I need a sanity check here because I really think that these two obituaries are for the same person. I shouldn't assume anything, but what are the chances of two Hermans men with the initials "J. B. " dying around the same time, in the same place, of the same ailment, and were buried in the same cemetery? Here's what I was looking at:

I printed his death certificate from the Wisconsin Historical Society. So John (Jean) Baptiste Hermans was 47 when he died, a farmer, from Belgium, married to Antoinette Dart, and his parents' names were Charles Antoin Hermans and Josephine Landvick (her name has been spelled differently in so many places, but they're all similar). You can also see that he died of apoplexy in Martinsville on October 30, 1892. It all seems pretty straight forward, right? I thought so too so based on his death I went to two local papers at the society to look for death notices around that time. Normally pre-1900 newspapers are the bane of my existence, but in this case I not only found one clipping, but two. I don't know which one I located first, but both were brief. I spent the time looking for another clipping in the off-chance that another would yield more information.

The Kewaunee Enterprise, 04NOV1892, pg8
The first news clipping is from The Kewaunee Enterprise on Friday, November 4th, 1892:

"-Died of apoplexy, on Oct. 30, 1892, Mr. J. B. Hermans, of Tonet, town of Luxembourg: His remains were interred in the Catholic church cemetery at Martinsville on Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, Rev. Father Van Huyter officiating. Deceased was about 45 years old and leaves a wife and about 8 children, besides his aged mother, a brother and two sisters, to mourn his loss."

This is obviously the John Baptiste Hermans in the death certificate even though they got the age wrong at least they said "about 45 years old" and I'd say 47 is "about" 45. I did like the fact that this clipping told me that he had one brother, two sisters, and (about) eight children. I'm trying to round out and firm up this part of my tree and I only had one sister for him and she's my hubby's ancestor. Even though there isn't a ton of information via the name department in here I do see dates for his death and even burial which is more than I've come to expect from most of these really old clippings. So here, I'm certain I have the right guy. Then there's this article:

The New Era, 09NOV1892, pg1
"Mr. Joseph B. Hermans, one of the most prominsnt (sic) farmers in Red River died last Sunday from a stroke of apoplexy. He was well up to a few moments of his death, and died almost without warning. He was 47 years old, and a highly respected man. He was buried on Tuesday from the Catholic church at Walhain, Rev. Fr. Van Huyster officiating. He was a native of Belgium, and leaves a wife and a large family of children."

Here his name is listed as "Joseph" which I could ignore if everything else was the same. The New Era is another Kewaunee County newspaper and this clipping was in the Wednesday, November 9th, 1892 edition. He made the front page even though the article was brief. The rest of the information is just slightly "off." First the name was wrong then we see Red River and Walhain mentioned not Tonet and Luxemburg. This doesn't bother me much because they're all in the same general area. In fact Wisconsin sometimes breaks areas down to unincorporated communities so while one newspaper may have just given the nearest town the other may have given the community name. The age is different than the other article, but here it's the correct age. Here it says he was buried on Tuesday. In 1892 November 8th was a Tuesday and November 1st was as well. The first article said he was buried November 2nd which was a Wednesday. Not the same burial dates, but this could be a mistake in either article. This article says he died last Sunday. My guy did die on a Sunday, but it was Sunday, October 30th not Sunday, November 6th. When they said Sunday could they have meant the one before? He's buried in the same place and I think eight children is a pretty large family even back when lots of kids was common.

So if the only thing that was different was the first name I could get over that, but there's enough different in this second article that even though logic and instinct tell me that it's the same person I begin to wonder. No it doesn't make a huge difference. I have a clipping for my guy and the second article doesn't change that, but I wonder if I should be looking for another Hermans dying around the same time as well. A search on the Wisconsin Historical Society's page turns up nothing for the Hermans I'm looking for in death records...not even the death certificate that I originally pulled. They've "updated" their search engine and it's crap and I've voiced that opinion to them. Just because the terrible search results didn't give me a Joseph Hermans doesn't mean much since the results also didn't give me John Baptiste Hermans. So should I waste time in the society when I get the next opportunity to scan the Kewaunee County death records to see if there are two or is this the same person? Thoughts?