There is much to be found through death. A death certificate is a gateway to generations of family history. For this investigation, we look at the death certificate of Mr. Leopold Rudolph Fink. By looking at his certificate, I was able to uncover details about his life and his family, both older and younger. I chose to research this death certificate because there is no reason that someone should truly die after death. This report is a way of bringing someone back to life, even if it is just for four pages. Hopefully I will be able to find information about the generations before his time, as well as information regarding his children and distant ancestors today.
From the death certificate alone I was given his date of birth and death; the names of his parents and his wife; his place of residence, cause of death, and career. Leopold Fink was born on February 22, 1852 in La Grange, Texas. His parents were Casper and Louise Ehliers Fink, both born in Germany. He was married to Fannie Lenora Thompson on October 30, 1877 and they had their first child, Helen, on January 13, 1881. They had one more child named Leland on
July 15, 1884. Throughout his life, Leopold worked as a postmaster in New Ulm, Austin, Texas. He died on April 22, 1918 of cerebral softening.
I began to research outside of the certificate and started like any good researcher would, with a Google search. It brought me to ‘findagrave.com’ where I was able to see his actual tombstone in La Grange, Texas. On his tombstone was a “Woodmen of the World” inscription. I found this interesting and decided to dig further into that. Woodmen of the Word is an organization that was started by Joseph Cullen Root in 1890. His organization sought to clear any financial burden of their clients. Many times, when their members died, they would alleviate the financial debt that they left behind for their families. This action would call for an inscription on the tombstone, signifying membership.
I then went to fold3.com which is a branch off of Ancestry.com but it is mostly dedicated to death certificates. I was able to find the death certificate of both of his children and his wife.
Fannie was born in Austin, Texas in 1958. On her death certificate, it states that there is no record of her mother’s maiden name or place of birth. To find more information about her, I went to Ancestry.com and found actual record of her mother. Her name is Mary Ann Thompson, she was born in Grantham, England and immigrated to Texas before Fannie was born.
The name of her father is also unknown besides a record of his last name “Thompson” and his place of birth which is England. I am unable to distinguish her cause of death, but she is buried in Palestine, Texas.
I looked at his daughter, Helen, next. Helen was born in Bastrop, Texas in 1881. She worked as a homemaker for the majority of her life and was married to a man named Tom Horn. She died in Anderson county, Texas and was buried in Palestine, Texas.
Leland, his son, was born in Bastrop as well. He was married to a woman named Vera Blanche Russ, and together they had 3 children. Because Leland was a man living in the United States, he was forced to register for both World Wars, he was never officially drafted though. He died in 1964 of a coronary occlusion in Harris county, Texas.
Leopold was alive throughout the duration of the civil war. The pony express began in 1960, when he was 8 years old. He served as a postmaster for the majority of his life. He mostly grew up during the time of serious change in America, the Sherman anti-trust act was passed and the Panic of 1893 occurred. Fink was still able to support his wife and kids through one of America’s first deep economic depressions.
Being able to look beyond the death certificate to find more hasbeen incredibly interesting. It is remarkable to think that a postmaster married to a housekeeper was able to sustain a home and a family despite living in the midst of a 6-year long nationwide economic crisis. Researching Leopold Fink has opened my eyes to how people were able to live through the Civil war and the Panic of 1963. It amazes me how we are able to find generations of information among just one record of a person. It is so important to continue research so we can unlock even more information about the past.