Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lucy Demosky’s Death Registration

Earlier this year, Caroline Pointer at BloggingGenealogy.com asked her readers “What's your 2016 Blogging Genealogy goal?”. Was it to “to blog more in general? More consistently? Concentrate more on just a handful ancestors?”

Since I just discovered Caroline’s article, I picked a prompt at random – the January 3 one titled “Memento Mori "Remember You Die" Day”.

Once we get past the ‘morbid’ aspect, Caroline encourages us to write about an ancestor’s death certificate or record. The goal is to take the details apart and see what we can learn (or not) from the person’s life from the document. Alternatively, we can transcribe the details as a blog post.

Lucy Demosky death registration
Lucy Demosky's registration of death

I chose to write about my husband’s paternal grandmother Lucy (aka Luchenia, Lukeria) (Tomelin) Demosky’s death registration (above). [1] I’ve abstracted the following details:

1. Place of death
- rural: Edmonton […] Rge: 021-11
- city: Edmonton Alberta
- hospital: General Hospital

2. Date of death: May 1 1960

3. Length deceased resided
- where death occurred: 2 yrs
- in Alberta: 2 years
- in Canada, if immigrant: 61 yrs

4. Name of deceased: Lucy Demosky

5. Permanent residence of deceased
- rural: Rge 032-11
- city: Jasper Place
- street address: 8902 – 15 st.
- province: Alberta
- country: Canada

6. Sex: F / 7. Citizenship: Canadian / 8. Racial origin: Russian / 9. Province, state or country of birth: Russia

10. Date of birth: October 18 1885 / 11. Age: 74 years 6 months 13 days

12. Kind of work: House – wife / 13. Last worked at his occupation: April 7 1960 / total number of years engaged in this occupation: life

14. Single, married, widowed or divorced: widowed / Name of Husband: William Demosky

15. Name of father: Nick Tomelin / 16. Maiden name of mother: [unknown] Terichow / 17. Birthplace of father: Russia / 18. Birthplace of mother: Russia

19. Proposed date of burial: May 4 1960 / proposed place of burial: Kamsack Sask. / Tolstoi Cementery [sic]

Informant: Fred Demosky / relationship: Son / date: May 1st 1960

Now that I’ve taken apart the details about Lucy’s death, one item stands out – her date of death. Lucy’s son, my late father-in-law William (Bill) Demoskoff, believed that his mother died on 28 April 1960. [2] Yet, I see that her death was registered as “May 1 1960”. Could her son Fred, the informant, have made a mistake and put an incorrect date of death?

As I pondered this dilemma, it occurred to me that neither my husband nor his father possessed a newspaper obituary for Lucy. After a quick search on the internet, I saw that the Edmonton (Alberta) Public Library has an online searchable birth, marriage, death index. I looked for Lucy’s obituary in “Edmonton Obituaries” and found it in the 3 May 1960 edition of the Edmonton Journal. [3] The newspaper wasn’t online, so my husband Michael sent an email to EPL’s “Ask Us” service. A librarian replied the very next day with a scan of the obituary. (Thank you, EPL!) Lucy’s obit stated that “On May 1st Mrs Lucy Demosky […] passed away […]”. [4] It looks like Bill's memory wasn't accurate on this point, after all.

My husband then called his cousin Harvey to see if he knew when their grandmother died, but he didn’t remember. He explained that she was living with him and his parents when she suffered a stroke at home. Lucy was taken to the hospital and died there a few days later. Harvey added that he didn’t have any paperwork (like her obituary) or photos of his grandmother that he could share with us.

What else did I learn about Lucy? She was born in Russia on 18 October 1885 to Nick Tomelin and his wife (first name unknown) Terichow. In my opinion, her date of birth might only be a guess, though, because at this time in their history, Doukhobors did not believe in state interference in their lives and did not register vital events. Later, after immigrating to Canada, some, but not all, Doukhobors followed the government requirements and registered their children’s births.

According to the document, Lucy arrived in Canada “61 yrs” ago, that is, in 1899. That year is consistent with family tradition, according to my father-in-law, Bill (Lucy’s youngest child). [5]

The “proposed place” of burial – Tolstoi Cemetery in Kamsack, Saskatchewan – is not quite correct. Lucy was indeed interred at Tolstoy Cemetery, but it’s located a little to the north of Veregin, which is about 10 km west of Kamsack. [6]

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn Lucy’s mother’s given name. (Bill believed that his grandmother’s name was Maria or Anna.) I also didn’t learn precisely where Lucy and her parents were born in Russia.

Writing about Lucy’s death registration has been a worthwhile activity. I noticed details that I didn't the first time I looked at it and that led me to question certain points, which in turn led me to search out (and get) Lucy's obituary. 

Sources:

1. Province of Alberta Department of Public Health, registration of death, no. 08-009495, Lucy Demosky (1960); Division of Vital Statistics, Edmonton.

2. William (Bill) Demoskoff, “Descendents of Mikhail (Konkin) Demofski) Demoskoff” [sic]; supplied by Bill Demoskoff, Grand Forks, BC. This unpublished and undated typescript consisting of six pages was researched by Bill Demoskoff probably in the 1980s or 1990s. The original typescript containing no supporting documentation for its data was given by the compiler to his daughter-in-law Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff in the 1980s or 1990s.

3. “Edmonton Obituaries”, epl.ca (https://www2.epl.ca/Obituaries/Obituaries.cfm : accessed 12 April 2016), entry for Lucy Demosky, 3 May 1960. The Edmonton Public Library has a searchable index for the Edmonton Journal, with index coverage from January 1950 to December 1982.

4. Mona Bacon, Librarian, EPL (Stanley Al. Milner Library), Edmonton, Alberta to Michael Demoskoff, email, 13 April 2016, “Demosky Obituary”; privately held by Michael Demoskoff, Hope, British Columbia, 2016. Mona attached a scan of Lucy Demosky’s obituary from the Edmonton Journal of May 3, 1960 in her email to Michael. The scanned image does not show the newspaper’s edition date or the page number on which the obituary appears.

5. William (Bill) Demoskoff, “Descendents of Mikhail (Konkin) Demofski) Demoskoff” [sic]; supplied by Bill Demoskoff, Grand Forks, BC.

6. “Tolstoy Cemetery - Veregin District, Saskatchewan”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website (http://www.doukhobor.org/Cemetery-Tolstoy.html : accessed 12 April 2016), entry for Lukeria N. Demoskoff [sic].

Copyright © 2016, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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