A Surprise Using FamilySearch


This post originally appeared on GeneaBlogie in 2008.


The records on FamilySearch.org  have been some of the most useful tools in my research. For example, recently I was running names through the Texas Death Certificate database. One of the names was “Elias Bowie.” That name may refer to either my great-uncle or his father, my great-grandfather. One of the neat things about FamilySearch is that it finds names that are in records whether or not the name is the direct subject of the record. So for example, you may find John Doe’s death certificate, but you’ll also find Jane Doe’s death certificate if John is listed there as her father.

So when I ran “Elias Bowie” against the Texas death database, one of the things that turned up was a death certificate for a J.C. Bowie with Elias listed as “father.” I pulled up the image (see below) and discovered it is for an infant who died at the age of six months. The baby’s mother is listed as Hattie Bryant, my great-grandmother. All which means that my grandmother, Jessie Beatrice Bowie, and great-uncle, Elias Bowie (Jr.), had a brother. I had never come across this information before in any record or through family oral lore.

J.C. Bowie was born in November, 1911 and died in June, 1912. Of course, this was between censuses, so he would not appear on a census record. And it may well be that this information was somehow kept from my grandmother and great-uncle who were two years old and one year old at the time of their brother’s birth.

The death certificate tells us some other interesting things. J.C. was born in San Antonio. It is well established by record evidence and family oral tradition that both Jessie and Elias (Jr.) were born in San Antonio in 1909 and 1910 respectively. J.C. died in Rockport, Texas, but his residence is listed as San Antonio. We know conclusively that Hattie Bryant’s parents lived in Rockport and that she grew up there. Like a lot of young people on the Gulf Coast at the time, Hattie headed for San Antonio at about age 19 or 20. The entries on J.C.’s death certificate suggest that he may have died during a visit home by Hattie. The death certificate says that the deceased infant was in Rockport for three months prior to his death.

Other questions are raised by this. Why did Hattie go home for such a long time? Did she take Jessie and Elias (Jr.) with her? We know that Hattie and Elias (Sr.) broke up sometime after 1910. Did he follow her to Rockport or was this the breakup?

Death Certificate for J.C. Bowie from FamilySearch’s Texas databases.
(Click to enlarge)

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