09 October 2014

Does that Look Like Brampton To You?

It's always worth it to consider how many iterations a location went through before it was placed on the document where you've seen it.

The place of birth on this 1930 death certificate for Joseph Watson appears to be somewhere in England. It also looks like some place starting with an "F."

But that's not where Joseph was born.

Local records in England indicate this Joseph Watson was born in Brampton, England in 1848 the son of James and Mary (Liddel) Watson. James had a sister who also lived in Chicago so I know this is the correct certificate and the correct person. The informant on this death certificate was a hospital administrator. Very likely he was copying the information from a hospital record--which may or not have been written clearly. Joseph had no surviving spouse or children to assist with the death certificate. It's not too much of a stretch to see how a sloppily written Brampton could have later been interpreted as the writing that appears in the birthplace section of this birth certificate.

What makes the analysis of this location easier is that I've already got the "correct" place from other records.

Often we don't have that.

It is always worth our while to think about how many times a piece of information may have "passed hands" before it came to be included in the document we  are using.