Follow Friday: A3Genealogy’s hints for Finding Josephine

Funeral book memento provided by Payne & Sons, Bakersfield, California Funeral Directors upon the death of my grandfather, Nathaniel Jones.

There are so many informative and compelling genealogy blogs that have helped and inspired me on my own journey that it seems impossible to give them all their due.  But I can give it a try, one Friday at a time.  I’ll start with Kathleen Brandt’s A3genealogy.

A professional genealogist, Brandt’s blog is chock-full of helpful information and interesting things I’ve never come across before.

A few weeks back, her excellent post on Funeral Home Documentation caught my eye.  She noted that a funeral home record might have more personal information on the deceased written in its margins that might not be included in the death certificate.  This gave me another avenue to take for finding Josephine:  a funeral home.

I’d been stumped about where to look for my great-grandmother, Josephine Burton Ford, for whom my blog is named.  I’d never asked her son, my grandfather, when she died, so I had to guess.  Based on the fact that she was last listed in the census in 1920 and that my father, born in the mid 30s never met her, I estimated around 1930 as her date of death.  I filled out a death record application, sent it to the Mississippi Vital records department in Jackson County, Mississippi where I assumed my grandmother had died and crossed my fingers.  Without an exact date of death, the vital records  department can only look so far.  In Mississippi’s case – that’s five years in either direction.  Their search fell just shy of Josephine’s date of death, 1922.

Because of Kathleen’s post, I was just beginning to track down funeral homes in Ocean Springs that may have catered to blacks in hopes of finding Josephine. But greater forces were at work.  Before I could finish searching, Ocean Springs historian, Ray Bellande found the funeral record at the Biloxi Library in a Bradford O’Keefe funeral home book, unraveling the mystery of what ever happened to my great-grandmother, Josephine!

Stop by A3genealogy if you haven’t already and maybe you’ll get some helpful hints for redirecting your search.



Filed under African-American history, ancestry, family, family history, funeral records, geneology, Mississippi, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Follow Friday: A3Genealogy’s hints for Finding Josephine

  1. Excellent report. Well directed.


  2. Beautifully written as always, Dionne. I love Kathleen’s work also, and just referred her site to another genea-buddy yesterday!

  3. I’m another who enjoys Kathleen’s blog.

  4. What a terrific resource! Thanks very much for alerting me to Kathleen Brandt’s work.

    Your post reminds me of another often overlooked resource for genealogy: old phone books. One of my friends was recently cleaning out her parents’ house, and her mother kept every single phone book for their community since the early 1950s. The early volumes contained not just names, addresses, and phone numbers, but names and ages of children, schools they attended, and sometimes other information. She donated them all to the local historical society.

  5. Dionne, I’m so honored and humbled at your FF. Wow. I really cherish your kind words and those of your followers. Walking on cloud nine right now!

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