Feb 27, 2012

Sad Discovery in Pittsburgh Death Records

Family Search has recently added the database of Pittsburgh City Deaths 1870-1905.  This has proved a gold mine to my research.  I have many ancestors who lived and died in the Pittsburgh City limits during this time period.  Since Pennsylvania did not start registering deaths until 1906 it is the only place to find a death record for these people.  The best part is you can view the actual image of the death registration and if you are lucky can find parents' names, place of birth, cause of death, and place of burial.  If you use this database keep in mind it is only for deaths that occurred in the city limits and like all old records is far from complete.  Here is a link to the database:  Pittsburgh City Deaths 1870-1905

One of the most valuable pieces of information I have found using this data is finding children I never knew existed.  These children were born and died in between census years so I have no record of them.  By doing a search on one or both of the parents names in the death records I got results for all their children in the database.  One family I researched was so sad and almost brought me to tears so I thought I would share.

Jacob Harris was my 2nd great grand uncle.  He was married to Bridgette (maiden name unknown).  From the census I only knew of one daughter Sarah, who died as a baby from the 1880 Mortality Schedule.  By searching the Pittsburgh Deaths I found the following.

Jacob and Bridgette had at least six children, all of whom died under the age of 2 years.  I am well aware that it was common for young children to die during this time period of the 1870's to 1890's.  But this if the first time I have come across this many deaths in one of my ancestor's families.  I can't imagine the pain and sorrow Jacob and Bridgette must have experienced. 

I do not know if they had any children that survived into adulthood.  It is possibly they did if one was born after 1880.  The sadness continued for poor Bridgette.  The last child I have a record of died in 1890 and Jacob then died in 1891 at age 38.  I cannot find Bridgette after the 1880 census so I do not know what happened to her or any possibly surviving children.

Here are the names of the six children and the causes of death:
John - Cholera
Infant male- Premature Birth
Sarah- Heart Problem
Thomas- Pneumonia
James- Meningitis
Anna- Premature Birth (at 7 months)

Here is a screen shot of the image of the death record for Thomas:

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