22 March 2014

A Horse and a Harness in New Mexico in 1925

With a little help from Kerry Scott (www.cluewagon.com), I have the death certificate of Montville Harness from Santa Fe County, New Mexico.

Montville died in October of 1925 in (or probably near to) Venus, New Mexico. The locations on his death certificate were somewhat difficult to read, but they are:

  • Venus--where Montville died and where the informant lived
  • Moriarty[spelling corrected from my original post]--where the doctor lived
  • Barton--where Montville was buried

The image was posted to Genealogy Tip of the Day on Facebook as a discussion prompt and several individuals submitted suggestions and ideas for these locations. I thought I could read them myself, but was unable to quickly find them in available online references.  Kerry Scott located a reference to The Place Names of New Mexico by Robert Julyan which confirmed the place names on the death certifcate and their locations. Julyan on page 372 refers to Venus as a "trading point ten miles northwest of Moriarity" which had its own post office during the time period when Montville died. Barton is a cemetery outside of modern Albuquerque.

Locations such as these aren't found on modern maps and may not even be easily located online. Difficult to read handwriting aggravates the problem. Sometimes "locals" (who already have the place names in their head) have an easier time interpreting words of this type than "non-locals."

The information on the death certificate is minimal in regards to Montville's origins. His parents unfortunately are not named. This is disappointing as Montville first "appears" in the household of his adopted parents James and Elizabeth Rampley in 1870 in Hancock County Illinois. The place of birth of Oklahoma City seems suspect considering that Montville was born in 1863 and Oklahoma City didn't exist as such during that time. The more realistic situation is that Montville lived in Oklahoma City before coming to New Mexico. The informant didn't know much about Montville, but apparently did know that he was divorced. We'll have an additional analysis in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.

As research moves forward on Montville, we'll incorporate the death certificate information with the fact that an attorney requested a copy of his homestead patent in 1924. At this point, it does not look like the attorney was settling up the estate as Montville was not dead. The more probable situation is that in 1924 Montville was selling the property he had obtained in 1917 as a homestead.

Montville died from a fall off a horse and it is possible that mention of his death made the local newspapers. I'm hoping that a 1925 editor avoided the temptation to make jokes about a Harness falling off a horse with a harness.

But we'll need to look at more local land and court records in New Mexico to determine that.

Stay tuned.

[Like most of our research on this blog....this work is in progress. This means that I don't know where this will lead--which is half the fun.]

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