Sunday, October 31, 2010

Genealogists Are Always Willing to Help One Another

One of the people I am researching is William Langdon, a first cousin of my grandfather Bill Kelly. Information about him was elusive for the period of 1915 until his death in 1957 for quite some time. Then I discovered that he went by the name Jack Langdon. I wrote about this discovery earlier this year.

That information took me on a search for his first wife, Sarah. Those of you who do research in Missouri know what a wonderful resource the Missouri Digital Heritage site is. It has actual copies of death certificates from 1910 - 1959.

It was on that site that I found the death certificate of Mr. Langdon's wife, Sarah Elizabeth Langdon. Since her husband was buried in Missouri, I was intrigued by the fact that her body was sent to Woodlawn Cemtery in Jackson, Michigan. As I generally do when I find burial information, I create a memorial on the FindAGrave web site, if one does not exist. I made the entry in a Woodlawn Cemetery in Michigan, and placed a request for a tombstone photograph.

In a few weeks, I heard from a FindAGrave photo volunteer who said that Sarah was not buried in that cemetery. I did some more checking and discovered that the correct name of the cemetery was Woodland Cemetery, not Woodlawn as listed on the death certificate. So I changed Sarah's memorial on FindAGrave. Based on the maiden name given on the death certificate, I entered her maiden name as Irick.

Another FindAGrave volunteer who specializes in that geographic area and has created more than 60,000 memorials on the site contacted me. The maiden name of Irick was puzzling her because it didn't ring any bells. She contacted the cemetery with the information from the death certificate to locate the grave. The cemetery records matched the dates of birth and death, but the name on the tombstone was Sarah Grover. My FindAGrave friend did some more sleuthing since she was not aware of any Irick family in the area and she quickly determined that Sarah's maiden name was Quick, not Irick. Ah .... trying to decipher handwriting is not always an easy task!

From this point, Sarah's story began to make sense. Frank Grover was her first husband when they lived in Michigan. They moved to Missouri, where he died. His body was returned to Michigan for burial. After Frank's death, she married Jack Langdon. At the time of her second marriage, she was about 61 and Jack was 38. It was Jack's first marriage, so I know there's a story there! Now just to find it.

Sarah and Frank had a son. I'm speculating that he had something to do with his mother's body being returned to Michigan to be buried next to her first husband. And Sarah's tombstone carries the surname Grover, not Langdon. I think there's a story to be found there as well.

I share this scenario to demonstrate a couple things. One - things are not always as they seem and sometimes you just have to keep digging deeper to find information. And - genealogists are people who are very willing to help out another researcher in finding those facts. I probably would have left Sarah "Irick" buried in the wrong cemetery with a different surname had this wonderful lady not contacted me who was just as interested in the mystery as I was.

Since our correspondence, I've been able to add a few more members of Sarah's immediate family.


  1. I think I might know your kind volunteer. If I am correct in my guess, she IS special.

    Great post!!!

  2. What a wonderful story. Genealogists do like to help and it sounds like you had a special helper.