Saturday, January 21, 2017

Nebraska Gives Me a "Yes" and a "No"

A few weeks ago, I did a project to see which vital records I had and which ones I needed to order.  I wrote a post about it here.  In that project, I realized that both my great-great-grandparents Fast, Jacob Fast #35385 (1831-1905) and Elisabeth (Thiessen) Fast #35386 (1832-1912) had died after Nebraska started to require death certificates to be filed with the state.  So I sent a request and $16 each to the vital records section.  A few days ago my answer came in the mail with a "yes" and a "no."
Jacob and Elisabeth Fast and their daughter Katharina.  Probably taken in the mid- to late-1890s.

Let's begin with the "no."  Nebraska started to require death certificates in 1904, and Jacob Fast died in February 1905, so a record should have been filed with the state.  However, the state web site warns that it took some time before the law was generally complied with.  I imagine that compliance was poorer in rural areas and those farther from Omaha and Lincoln.  Jacob Fast died near Jansen, a village in southeastern Nebraska.  So I was disappointed but not terribly surprised to get a "no" from the state - all indices had been searched but no death certificate for Jacob Fast was found.

Of course, the state kept my $16 because you are paying for the search not the certificate.  But it's a risk you have to take if you want to get any records from the state.
Jacob Fast, died 24 February 1905, no death certificate found, Health Records Management Section, State of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, searched 5 January 2017.

But I had better luck and a "yes" for his wife and my great-great-grandmother, Elisabeth (Thiessen) Fast, who died in 1912.  Her death certificate didn't reveal any new information other than her burial date (12 July 1912), but it did confirm her death date (10 July 1912), place of death (Cub Creek Township, Jefferson County, Nebraska), and her parents' names (David Thiessen and Elisabeth Franz).  I knew these latter three pieces of information from obituaries and family histories, but it's nice to get a government document that confirms them.
Elizabeth Fast death certificate, died 10 July 1912, dated 11 July 1912, #6027, Vital Records Office, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was the doctor's note about cause of death, "Did not attend deceased.  Was called and patient died before I arrived.  Death undoubtedly from natural causes.  Never saw deceased alive."  Even though she died at age 80, she might have never been to the doctor, certainly not in the last few years of her life.  Her obituary in the Mennonitische Rundschau (28 August 1912, p. 8) says that she had experienced chest pains in the couple days before she died but she insisted on going to visit her other children and grandchildren anyway and then died of a heart attack.  She must have been one tough lady.

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