Saturday, May 11, 2013

One Ancestor ~ Two Mysteries

Recently I have been researching my husband's Ruth family and associated lines. Slowly but surely discovering newspaper articles and historical documents.

Family researchers love nothing better than to discover odd and interesting facts about their ancestors. Yes, we are happy when we can connect the correct lines and locate records that give important data. But, we shout with glee when strange bits show up along the way.

That is what occurred Friday afternoon when I stumbled on my husband's 1st cousin 3x removed, Peter Ruth Keller. Peter was born October 2, 1834 in Pennsylvania. Initially, I discovered nothing unusual about Peter's life. Without going the extra mile with research, the following oddities would never have been uncovered.

The first red flag came to light after entering Peter's vital records into the Ancestry database. There I noticed the conflicting information between the 1900 United State Federal Census and his death records.

This census record lists the enumerated date as June 11, 1900.

Listed is Peter R. Keller of 1921 Croskey Street residing with his daughter Elizabeth.

Here is the "Return of Death: In The City of Philadelphia" for Peter Ruth Keller of 1921 Croskey Street. The death date listed is June 2, 1900. Thoroughly confused! How could Peter be counted on the census if he died nine days earlier? Is there some critical piece of information I have overlooked? If anyone can shed light on the conflicting information, please leave a reply.
Next up I Googled the cemetery listed on the death record. In the hit list was a blog post from Ed Snyder of The Cemetery Traveler. Reading "The Condemned Lafayette Cemetery" we learn the sad history of this Philadelphia cemetery.
We find there were financial dealings leading to the sale of cemetery property. Sadly, the remains from Lafayette Cemetery were not treated with the respect they deserved. Instead of being properly reburied, they were disposed of in an "undignified" fashion. I hope to locate additional records about any other possible relatives lost in the "unscrupulous financial wheeling and dealings".
So, I am left with two mysteries for one ancestor. Why is Peter listed on the 1900 United States Federal Census records when he was deceased? Where exactly is his final resting place?
More digging (pun unintended) into Peter's life will most definitely be in my future.
Update: Thanks to Jennifer Sepulvado of "Jennifer's Genealogy Blog" for help with my first mystery. Jennifer sent me the link to IPUMS-USA  "1900 Census: Instructions to Enumerators". Listed under number "The Body of the Schedule" is the following:
94. The census day is the day on which the census begins, namely, June 1, 1900. Get each question on the schedule answered with reference to the census day (if applicable), and disregard all changes which occur in your district after that time. Thus, if you visit a family June 4, in which a marriage too, place June 2, enter the parties as single, because they were so on June 1. Enter any person who was alive and dwelling in your district June 1, even if he should die before you visit the dwelling.
Seems my husband's ancestor made the cut by one day! Thanks very much, Jennifer.


  1. I believe the census enumerators were instructed to enumerate people who were alive on the official census day of 1 Jun 1900, even if they had already died by the actual visit of the census taker. It looks like he made it by one day!

  2. See #94 from the instructions at

    1. Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for stopping by to read the post. Also, thank you for answering one of my mysteries. Now if I could only find where Peter is really buried!

  3. Hi,
    I have Ruth relatives from Pennsylvania. My 3X great-grandfather was George William Ruth who lived in Lower Heidelberg,Berks County. His son was John Adam Ruth who was born Dec 1851 and was baptized in St John's (Hain's) church. Do these names sound like your husband's family?


  4. I also have RUTH kin in PA. They share common ancestors with me, Dielman Kolb and wife Agnes Schumacher. Dr. John Landis Ruth, Mennonite preacher/Historian is one of the more notable kin today.
    Revis Cauble Leonard

  5. Deb,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!