Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finding the date of last Thursday and six other challenges

Whilst Mr. Myrt is sleeping soundly, I've been updating my genealogy database, comparing it with what I've attached to folks on my Tree. For some reason I decided to search for my maternal grandfather, Lowell Froman. I found a hit for him in the Seattle Times obit of his mother Mrs. Louise Gielow. Boy, am I excited! I recognized her last married name and those of her grown children.

Here's the link to the scanned image of the full page, shown in this partial screen shot below. Note that GenealogyBank thankfully highlights text with light yellow boxes if it matches the search criteria.

I am always curious to learn more about my great-grandfather, Lowell Simpson Froman, whom I met only once when I was about 4 or 5 years of age. He was divorced from my mother's mother years before. I knew he played the clarinet, and in fact I have one of his clarinets at our home in Utah.

You can imagine I was thrilled to find the obit on Lowell's equally elusive mother. She married a series of men after the death of her first husband William Gist Froman from whom our side of the family descends. In fact it was Louise who told my mother via telephone in the early 1950s that the "G" stands for "Gist" though all his records seem to refer to him as Wm G. or William G.

So, here are the steps I took to incorporate this digital image into my genealogy data files.

SAVED THE FILE from GenealogyBank in my Froman genealogy data folder on Dropbox. Oops! It could only save in .PDF format, and my RootsMagic won't take that. So I also zoomed in and cropped the obit itself, saving it as a .jpg file. Since I am using my laptop in a hotel room right now, I resorted to using Windows Paint, a freebie program that came with this machine.

VERIFIED THE NEWSPAPER TITLE AND DATE as transcribed is the same as that found on the scanned image. YUP! I like to copy/paste transcribed info to avoid my own typographical errors, with which my DearREADERS are entirely too familiar, but I digress.

LABELED THE OBIT (shown in red below) with the name of the newspaper and publication date, again, using Microsoft Paint. Any photo editing software will do the trick for you.


TRANSCRIBED THE OBITUARY in my RootsMagic notes for Louisa's death as follows:
Funeral services for Mrs. Louise Mae Gielow, 89, of 6559 35th Av. N. E., were held yesterday at the Washington Memorial Chapel. She died Thursday in a Seattle Hospital.

Mrs. Gielow came to Seattle five years ago from San Diego. She was born in Coffee, Mo.

Surviving are three sons, Lowell Froman, Prairie Village, Kas., Leland Froman in Nebraska and Herbert Froman, Kansas City, Mo., and three daughters, Mr.s Helen Hall, St. Joseph, Mo., Mrs. Ada Drake, Federal Way , and Mrs. Louise Arthurs, Seattle. Burial was in Washington Memorial Park.

Obituary for Louise (Higgins) Froman Gielow appeared in the Seattle Times 12 February 1967 page 18. Scanned image found online at
Just what IS the date of "Thursday" (we're assuming the immediately prior Thursday) if the obit was published 12 February 1967? Easy, smeasy! Just go to and type in the known date. Then click the little calendar icon to view Feb 1967 and make the determination. From this you can see that the 9th is the previous Thursday.

ENTERED THE DEATH DATE AND PLACE for Louise in my RootsMagic software. We had previously guessed the death was in the late 1960s or 1970s somewhere in California, but I learned from the obituary that Louise had moved from San Diego to Seattle some five years prior to her death in 1967.

ATTACHED THE OBIT IMAGE to the death information for Louise in RootsMagic, completing the note taking and citations.

At this point, the obituary is the only indication of a death date and place I have for Louise. This newspaper entry is a secondary source of information in that it is derived from another source, most likely the personal knowledge of someone reporting the information to the newspaper.

I'll want to obtain a copy of Louise's death certificate since it was an official record created for the government to report the event of her death and is considered more reliable. Fortunately, has the Washington State Death Index online, so I looked and found the following entry:

Washington State Death Index
Name: Louise M Gielow
Date of Death: 9 Feb 1967
Place of Death: Seattle
Residence: Seattle
Gender: Female
Certificate: 002999 Washington Death Index, 1940-1996 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: Washington State Department of Health. State Death Records Index, 1940-1996. Microfilm. Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington.

SHOULD I HAVE WAITED FOR THE DEATH CERTIFICATE to arrive before typing the death information in my RootsMagic? The quick answer is no. Information about ancestors doesn't come to us in perfect form -- it comes in dribs and drabs, a bit at a time. So it is a matter of recording what I have at this point in time - the obit, not the death certificate.

Since it is 2:07am, I can hardly contact the Washington State Department of Health and have them fax over a copy of Louise's official death record.

But I do want to order it, as cause of death will be important in compiling my medical family history.

And there is nothing like getting it straight from the horses' mouth... or in this case, a notation to hopefully include the actual death date from the attending physician at that "Seattle hospital."

FOR THE OVERLY CURIOUS, here's a picture of my great-grandmother in her earlier years. It was sent in as proof of her relationship to Union Civil War soldier, William G. Froman who served in Company D, 3rd Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia.

Louise M. Froman (front of image)

(back of image with notation from her attorney to the US Pension Office.)

Can my DearREADERS mention at least six additional things Ol' Myrt should do with that obituary before I move on to the next project? Post your suggestions in comments to this blog entry. I'll keep checking back throughout the next few days to see what you come up with for me to do. Maybe you'll think of something I've missed entirely.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. You may have covered this previously, but how do you save the file(s) you created from I.e. what is your digital file naming practice? I've just started using and I'm trying to be consistent with my digital file naming system (though I have a long way to go with older items I've downloaded or scanned).

  2. Myrt, doesn't your version of Rootsmagic have a perpetual calendar tool?

    I use Transcript to transcribe my obits and other documents.

  3. Back it up redundantly! It has obviously taken you awhile to find this, make sure that it is easy to locate again for your own sanity and for the benefit of others down the road. I usually do a paper copy, a copy on my hard drive, and a dropbox copy. You never known when you might end your subscriptions or even be without access to the internet (does that even happen anymore).

    If you do not have birth information for Louise yet, the obit provides a start there (Coffee, Missouri). Maybe Missouri Digital Heritage site would be a good place to look for this.

    Verify that your have included everything that is included in the obituary and cite your source. Obits can definitely help fill-in a family group sheet. Be sure that the children listed match up what you have. Make sure that you make note of the girls' married names. Maybe they are different from what you have on file - could have married/divorced. Children not listed may have passed away prior to Louise. I would personally also put in a residence record for each of her children in 1967 so that if I am looking for records for them, I have a place to start.

    This is all that I can think of, but I'm still growing as a genealogist. I look forward to seeing what others suggest.


  4. Six things to do? That many? Yikes... let's see:

    1) Follow-up on the six children - obtain records for births, deaths, marriages, spouses, children.

    2) Obtain Louise's birth record in Coffee MO.

    3) Obtain Gravestone record and photo in Washington Memorial Park.

    4) Check out address where she lived. Obtain a picture. did she own it? If so, obtain a deed record

    5) Contact Louise's children or their descendants to share records, photos, stories, etc.

    6) Explore the San Diego connection. Where did she live? For how long? Are there newspaper articles, city directories, deed records, court records, etc.

    Whew - I'm guessing that you've done many of these things...

    I found it interesting that it didn't mention her husband(s). The implication is that there were at least two - Froman and Gielow.

    I really like your time and date site! Thanks!

  5. In addition to what folks have already mentioned, I like to pull various other pieces of information out of obituaries and add to my genealogy program.

    For example, the obit says Louise arrived from San Diego 5 years earlier, putting her arrival in Seattle around 1962. I would put a fact or event (such as residence) showing began living in Seattle and stopped living in San Diego in 1962. And of course, include the citation.

    It helps develope a timeline and also to show where there is inconsistent or conflicting evidence.

    PS Louise lived less than a mile from my grandparents!

  6. Thanks for posting this - in addition to the "crash course" in entering an obituary into a database program, you nudged me to take a look for and play with the paint program (Microsoft) and the date/time calculator. Interesting and educational - you rock!

  7. Hi Myrt, great post, thanks for sharing.

    I always save two copies of the obituary. The first copy is a full page scan that includes the newspaper header information. The second copy is the snipped section of the obit itself which I can then add the newspaper information directly to the image - either the full citation or a shortened citation as you did above.

    I then type up the transcript and save that as either a notepad file or a Word file to my hard drive. And then I copy that transcript to the notes section of my Rootsmagic software. I usually copy it to the main notes section (I guess that would be for the fact: name), however I have recently been trying out adding individual notes to each individual fact notes section to see how I like that way too.

    I would then add the obituary as a source and attach the source to every fact that is mentioned in the obituary. When I used Family Tree Maker, I used to include the full transcript of the obituary in my source. I did this in case my notes got corrupted or did not transfer when I created a Gedcom or moved to another software; I also did this so I can create a source citation report and have the full transcript right there in front of me without having to pull up the person's individual file. However, lately I have started just putting a note in my source citation that says, "please see person's notes for full transcript."

    I haven't attached any media to my Rootsmagic database because I used Family Tree Maker previously and it was already slow as molasses without having additional media files attached to it. I am wondering is there any difference to adding media to the death fact versus adding it to the source citation?

    I agree that the death index information should be included. I am constantly comparing data derived from various sources and have often found discrepancies between various data sources. Most people only get as far as the index. So when you are disputing someone's name it is good information to have handy and ready to pull out to show someone who does not believe your claim. Also, if you are like me, you will go off and forget to order the death certificate because it is 2:07 am!

  8. Thanks for posting your information and then asking others what you (they) should do next. I definitely learned a lot from this post and the reader's comments.

  9. Thanks for posting your information and then asking others what you (they) should do next. I definitely learned a lot from this post and the reader's comments.

  10. The six things Ol' Myrt was looking for was to attach the image of the obituary to each of the six named children in my genealogy database program, complete with the transcription and citation info.

    Obituaries are often our first clue about children, the married daughter's names and current city of residence for surviving relatives.

    M :)