Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - the Larsens - Who was the survivor?

Most genealogists know that obituaries are not always the last word. They may not even provide accurate information - but at least some clues are present.

A few weeks ago, I was seeking information on the Larsen (or Larson) family who I believe are related to some of my Petersen kin.

Here is what I found.

L. C. Larson, 54 years old, died yesterday of paralysis at his home, 651 Eleventh street west.
He was born in Denmark Jan. 21, 1862, the son of Carl and Mattie Larson. He came to Waterloo in 1888, and lived here until 1908, when he removed to Gilbertville and from there to Minnesota in 1910, returning to Waterloo last fall.
Larson leaves a wife and one daughter, Katherine J., age 11 and a sister in Denmark, Mrs. Mary Olson. He was a member of the Christian Science church.
The funeral services will be from the home Sunday afternoon. Interment at Elmwood.
Source: Waterloo Evening Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, May 20, 1916 

Funeral services for the late L. C. Larson were conducted yesterday from the home, 651 Eleventh street west. Interment was in Elmwood cemetery. Reader A. Matton of the Church of Christ. Scientist, in charge. Pallbearers were James Ingemelis, Horace Early, Frank Davis, Emerson Stevens, F. Fairbanks and A. D. Cramer.
Source: Waterloo Evening Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, May 22, 1916
Six months later . . .
Katherine, 11-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Larson, 651 Eleventh Street west, died at 11 p.m. yesterday after a short illness. She was stricken with tonsillitis Friday and grew rapidly worse. She is survived by the parents and a sister. Funeral arrangements have not been completed.  

Source: Waterloo Evening Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, November 1, 1916

Yes, I doubled checked the dates on the newspaper pages. Mr. Larson (or Larsen) died and was buried in May, 1916 and left a wife, daughter Katherine and a sister.

Katherine died in November of 1916. Her deceased father is listed as a survivor and the article indicates she also had a sister. Another daughter was not listed as a survivor in Mr. Larson's obituary.

Both articles indicate that the deceased were residents at the same address, so this is the same family.

Speculating on why the conflicting information was published does not solve any of the research questions. Once again, these articles show that a genealogist can never stop with just one source of information. One always has to keep looking.


  1. Good reminder to always have more than one source. I've also found that obituaries in particular can be troublesome. Step parents listed as parents, children omitted, etc. Obituaries in smaller newspapers or home town papers can sometimes provide more details.

  2. We LOVE our obits,

    with reserations.

    Great reminder/post. Terrific example.

  3. Oh so true about obituaries! They can give you great help or lead you down a bunny trail :-)

  4. It's good to be observant and check the facts, as you know. Amazing at the errors tho. But Susan, I feel sorry for the father, still rather young, and then the young daughter dying the same year, and nothing to say how the mother must have felt. How tragic.