Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Bring Out Your Dead"

Can I just tell you that I love calling funeral homes, cemetery offices and county death record offices? 

Not once have I ever encountered anything other than a helpful, kind employee when I've made the effort to look up a number and get on the horn. 

One lady in South Carolina (SWEET accent) offered to go outside in the snow one January day and take a picture of my relative's headstone and email it to me.

Bless you, employees.  We geeks couldn't do it without you.

Now on to today's character - my great uncle Burt Damon Bathrick*.  Never married as far as I can see, Burt lived what must have been a colorful life.  Born in 1863 in upstate New York to Lysander and Phoebe (who died when he was seven years old), the youngest child by fifteen years - Burt made his way west with his father and landed in Great Falls, Montana.  (Lysander ended up in Wyoming.)

I'm trying not to mix him up with a Bert Bathrick, who was born five years earlier and died in 1923. 

My uncle Burt held a variety of jobs, from railway laborer to beer hall employee to novelty salesman.  Just guessing from the occupations he chose, he is an adventurous, hardworking, gregarious, people-loving soul, who loved his adopted city but wasn't much for sticking around in the same job.  He never owned a home, always lived at boarding houses, which to me says he preferred to take life one day at a time.

I'm about to call Cascade county and see if he did stick around long enough to be buried there.  What's funny is, I find myself mentally stuck in the 1980s way of genealogy-ing sometimes... "So Great Falls, huh... it would be so fun to go there, but it's so far away..."

Then I remember "when" I am.  In these days of instant access to telephone numbers listed online, help is only a few clicks and a phone call away. 

Blessings abound :)

*Why Burt today?  The 1940 Census, of course.  I did an individual search on PAF using my ancestors filter (grandparents and aunts and uncles only) and filtered them by individuals born in the 1840-1941 birth range, so I didn't miss anyone.  Three hundred and ninety-six people I'm looking up.  I've already found new family members all over the place.  Yay :)

1 comment:

  1. You're lucky, I have unfortunately come across unhelpful and curt office staff in my genealogy research. One cemetery had a policy that any look up requests had to be mailed in with a fee and a self addressed and stamped envelope. Despite the fact that we were standing IN the office, we weren't even able to just fill out the request form and pay the fee right then and there. I even told the woman I'd be happy to address the return envelope and pay her for the stamp so it would be the same as if I'd sent it in but nooooo, that wouldn't work. She just kept saying the older graves require manual searching which takes too long to do on the spot. She didn't get it that I wasn't asking her to do the search now, just that I make the request and pay the fee now. Her attitude was very rude, she kept cutting me off and clearly wasn't listening to me so I had to bite my tongue from snapping back a sarcastic "Thanks, you've been very helpful."

    That said, this was in stark contrast from the cemetery we had just come from where they genuinely could not have been more helpful. They also did not have a digital database yet they managed to fill my request within minutes, gave me a map of the cemetery to find the plots I was looking for and did it all for free and with smiles on their faces. So coming from this place I was really taken aback when I encountered this rude woman who could not have been less interested in helping me if she'd tried.