Great! Now What?  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , , , , , ,

I got Salena (Selena) Brannon's (my wife's great-grandmother) death certificate from the State Office of Vital Records, Georgia Department of Human Resources. I frantically searched for her parents names and this is what I found:

(Unknown) Bishop


You've got to be kidding me! I was sure this will unlock the mystery of Margret Bishop/McElrath, her mother, who's maiden name and husband's name I have yet to verify or even learn. Well, this being my first ever encounter with actual vital records I guess I may have been a tad naive. I just assumed all the information would be there. I'm not sure how I reached this delusional state.

There is a whole lot of new information that I have now, though:

1) I know that Selena's middle name is Victoria. Before I laid my eyes on this document she has always had a middle initial L, not V. I am going to go over everything else I have about her to see if this has been the case all along. I can understand an error if they just had her middle initial as V but they actually spell out her entire middle name. Not only that but it looks like originally her first name was given as Victoria and then it was scratched out with a pen and Salena was typed in its place. Very strange.

2) I have her actual date of birth which is Oct. I2 I877. Until now I thought it was Nov. 1876 for some reason. But I can't even find the source for that right now. I think I may have calculated it based on some other source. This is very troubling to me and I am planning to go over all my sources and verify important dates and places. The other interesting thing is that throughout the entire certificate whenever the number 1 was supposed to be used an 'I' or 'l' were used in its place. Oct. I2 I877 - Did anyone notice that in the first line of this paragraph? Sneaky, sneaky. I wonder why that happened. Was the typewriter broken? Again, very strange.

3) I now know that she lived at the "Lusk Nursing Home" and it's address. I did a preliminary check and it doesn't look like it exists today. I will have to dig deeper and see if there any records left from this home that I can get a look at.

4) I can now verify that she was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, that she was indeed married to William T. Brannon and that her maiden name was Bishop. But the biggest find is that the informant listed in the certificate is Mrs. E. B. Pendergras, her daughter. This would be her oldest daughter who I know as Leila E. Brannon. I found her living with her second husband Styles A. Pendergrass as renters at Selena's house in the 1930 census. So that is a big confirmation that she was indeed her daughter and was married to Styles. This opens up a new avenue of research. If I can locate her descendants on that branch I might learn something new.

5) I also know the Leila's address in 1964. She lived 2.5 miles from the nursing home where her mother lived. That's another clue.

6) I now know where Selena is buried. I will go to the cemetery and search for her grave site and honor her memory at some point in the near future. There might also be more information on the tombstone as well.

7) I now know that she died of ASHD w/ CHF, which I found out was atherosclerotic heart disease with congestive heart failure and she had previous hypertension (high blood pressure) for years. This was not typed in but added in handwriting.

Salena Victoria (Bishop) Brannon died at the ripe old age of 86 in Atlanta, Georgia. May she rest in peace.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 2, 2009 at 10:17 PM and is filed under , , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



Old-fashioned typewriters did not have a number 1 key. To make a 1, you had to use lower case L or upper case I. When I first learned typing on an old manual set with an old-fashioned textbook, that was how I learned it (and this was in the 1970s!).

Who was the informant for the death certificate? They just may not have had much knowledge about Selena or her parents (obviously they didn't know her parents' names). In that case, the information they DID give may be incorrect, such as the birth date.

I've had the same frustration, many times, of thinking a certain document would help me out, only to find out the text boxes were filled with "unknown" or left blank. I wish you success in your search.

January 2, 2009 at 11:25 PM

Oops, I just re-read the post and saw that Leila (Selena's daughter) was the informant. She may have not know much about her mother's parents...OR she may have just been overwhelmed with the funeral details or bogged down with grief to give the information correctly or in full.

January 2, 2009 at 11:29 PM

OK, Amir, I hate to have you think I'm bugging you, but I came up with a couple of ideas.

Did Selana have siblings who died in South Carolina before 1855? Because Ancestry has SC death certificates for 1821 - 1955, and maybe one of those siblings will have the mother's maiden name listed. If you don't have an Ancestry account, let me know. I will be happy to look things up for you and send you copies of the records.

January 2, 2009 at 11:40 PM

Hi Miriam,

Thanks for all the great tips.

I don't believe any of the 5 siblings died in SC but I've looked through Ancestry's records for all of them, including a step-father I believe was Ira McElrath and can't find anyone. I looked for several people who I know died in SC and can't find them either. Primarily Calvin Rufus Bishop, Selena's father who died in 1880. And even his father Andrew Berryman Bishop. Nada.

I believe Selena's younger sister Eva died in North Carolina, but I can't find that record either. What I did come across is the death of an older brother, Jonah Bishop and I ordered that record as well.

This isn't over yet!

January 3, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Congratulations! You've just been honored with the Proximidade Award by the Genealogy Traces blog.

January 3, 2009 at 10:07 PM

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