• by Dave Miller


Family research can be very rewarding but at the same time, it can also be very frustrating especially when it comes to not being able to find records. That happened to me not to too long ago and the eventual discovery ended up being an unbelievable find.

Eliza Jane Kidd was the sister to my great great grandfather James Kidd. They were both born in Ireland and emigrated to the U.S. Eliza and her sister Jane ended up in Boston were both married and eventually wound up in Western Wisconsin where they spent the rest of their days along with their families. James arrived in the U.S. later on and he also settled in the same area near Colfax with his family.

Eliza married Arthur Simpson in Blackstone, MA on 5 May 1857 and later moved to Tainter Township near Colfax in April of 1868. Eliza passed away on 13 October 1911 and was all buried in Hill Grove Cemetery just outside of Colfax. Almost the entire family were eventually buried at Hill Grove Cemetery. I was able to verify much of the information regarding Eliza's life including her gravestone at Hill Grove. I was never able to find her death certificate. I always thought that was strange since her obituary indicated that she died at Tainter Lake which is in Dunn County, Wisconsin where Colfax is located. And she died within the time frame when Death Certificates were required by the state of Wisconsin. After making a request with the State of Wisconsin, there was no record indicating her death.

So what happened to her death certificate? I eventually applied for the death certificate with the Dunn County Register of Deeds office located in the county seat of Menomonie. I figured it was worth a try although my thinking was if the state didn't have the record why would the county have it? So I filled out the form and mailed it in. I received a call from the Assistant clerk for the Register of Deeds from Dunn County about two days after mailing my request. She mentioned to me that she thought she found Eliza's death certificate but the interesting part was "THERE WAS NO NAME ON THE DEATH CERTIFICATE!" All the information was correct including the name of her parents, the dates of birth and death. There just wasn't any name on the certificate. The clerk also informed me there was a note attached to the nameless certificate from a former Register of Deeds who worked there many years ago. This person indicated that the certificate was most likely that of Mrs. Eliza Simpson since she remembered her.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing and it wasn't until a few days later when I received the letter from Menomonie that I saw the nameless death certificate. I stood there for a few minutes in disbelieve but sure enough it was the death certificate of my great great great aunt. What I learned through all this is be open minded when searching for family records and never give up!

#Colfax #Wisconsin

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