Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finding Harry Figg

The death information for Harry Figg was difficult to find. All of the records found for Harry were in Iowa. Harry was not found in the 1910 United States Census, and no death records for him could be found in Iowa. Harry was last found in the Iowa newspapers in 1903. With all the known information, Harry died between 1903 and 1910. One day while I was searching on Google, I came across a book about the Old Settlers of Johnson County, Iowa. In one of these books, the death of Harry Figg was mentioned as September 1907. With this being the first find about his death, it was assumed that his death was in Iowa.

One thing I have found in family history is that assumptions are very bad. When assumptions are made, we take it almost as facts - which they are not! This lesson was learned once again when I was looking for the actual tombstone of Jesse Figg. From his death certificate it was known that his burial would be found in the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. On www.findagrave.com, the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery was searched for and then the surname Figg was also searched for. Jesse was found, but two other Figg's were also found in this cemetery. The two individuals found were Guy Figg and Harry Figg. These are the same names of  Jesse's two older brothers. After looking at the information given about their birth and death dates, it matched the information known about Jesse's brothers.

My assumption was wrong - Harry Figg did not die in Iowa, like the information first looked like, but instead he moved to California. After finding the tombstone for Harry, I wanted to find when he would have arrived in California. He was found in the U.S. City Directories in California in 1904. Between the last newspaper in Iowa and his death in 1907 he had moved across the country and started a whole new life. Harry continued to live a life, that was unknown to me between the two known dates of his life. I would not have ever known about that life if I had not found cemetery records to prove me wrong.

Everything found worked together perfectly, making me realize how harmful assumptions can be while doing research for individuals. My one word to the wise - when you make an hypothetical conclusion about the individuals you are researching make sure they are not the facts you live by. Continue to search for the documents that can back up the story you are creating in your head.