September 19, 2012

Death Notices Name Family Members, or do they?

The New York Herald Tribune published a death notice in April 1899 for Mrs. Erastus Corning which provided quite a bit of detail about her family -- things we often long for like maiden name and parents.  Here are the people listed:

The deceased was Mary Parker Corning, widow of Erastus

Her parents: Amasa J Parker and Harriet Langdon

Her children: Parker, Harriet, Edwin

Her siblings: General Amasa Parker, Mrs VJL Pruyn

However, her daughter Harriet was listed as "now Mrs. Wheeler H. Peckham, Jr" -- no, that was not her husband !

In 1896, Harriet Weld Corning married Rufus W. Peckham, Jr, son of the Supreme Court Justice.  When her mother died in April 1899, the newly weds were living in New York City where Rufus was a lawyer.  

Wheeler Hazard Peckham was also a lawyer in New York and the brother of Justice Rufus Peckham.  I have not found that Wheeler had a son ... so there was no Wheeler H. Peckham, Jr.  (Their cousin Walton Peckham also had a son named Wheeler H who was a NY lawyer, but only 16 in 1896 so not the groom either).

Perhaps the reporter or editor knew this intertwined family and got some of the members confused. Best to double check the names listed in death or legal notices. They can be very informative, but are not always correct.

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