Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lucy Theodate Holmes' Christmas Sorrow

Kalamazoo County death register showing entry for Baby Boy Holmes

Some years ago, I spent many hours researching Lucy Theodate Holmes, the daughter of Myrta Z. Belknap and H. H. Holmes, and one of the things I learned was that she gave birth to a son who died on Christmas--a son whose earthly life lasted but 45 minutes.

Baby Boy Hunter died on 25 December 1919. His death was reported to the Kalamazoo County Clerk where he was recorded as the son of "Lucy T. Holmes," born in Illinois, and "James Douglas Hunter," born in Minnesota. [1] The death record for Baby Boy Hunter can be viewed on FamilySearch but you will need to be logged in to access it:

The cause of death is difficult to read, but it appears to be "Asphyxia due to prolapsed cord and difficult breech extraction following version."

I cannot imagine the pain that Lucy must have endured on that day--and on the many Christmases that followed.

There's a gravestone in the Wildey Cemetery in Paw Paw, Van Buren County, Michigan near the stone for Lucy's mother that reads "Ronald Douglas Hunter." [2] There are no dates on the stone, but he is almost certainly the infant that died in 1919, perhaps named for his paternal grandfather, Ronald Hunter, and his father. [3]

I visited the cemetery once, to take photographs and pay my respects. It's out in the country on a quiet road, not too far from a farm that has ties to the family (but that's a story for another day). The thing I remember very clearly is how parched and brown the grass was the time that I was there.

I've misplaced my images of the stones, but there are pictures available on Find A Grave which can be easily found by following these links: Myrta Belknap Holmes | Ronald Douglas Hunter.

I think of Lucy when the holiday season comes around. And I think of her husband and her mother and her infant son. And I think about how this was just one of the many sorrows that she endured.

As far as research stories go, it isn't a happy one to tell, but maybe it's an important one to share.


     1. "[Kalamazoo County, Michigan] Death records, 1867-1933; index to deaths, 1867-1997," FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 December 2017) > “Deaths, 1918 (Townships Oshtemo p. 21-end; Villages; Cities) Deaths, 1919 Deaths, 1920 (Townships; Villages; Cities A-Kalamazoo, p. 134),” film 2074997 > image 682, entry for Baby Boy Hunter.

     2. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 16 December 2017), memorial page for Ronald Douglas Hunter, Find A Grave Memorial no. 133906544, citing Wildey Cemetery, Paw Paw, Van Buren County, Michigan; accompanying photograph added by Linda Chowns (Johnson). Also Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 16 December 2017), memorial page for Myrta Belknap Holmes, Find A Grave Memorial no. 133906380 citing Wildey Cemetery, Paw Paw, Van Buren County, Michigan; accompanying photograph added by Linda Chowns (Johnson).

     3. For James Douglas Hunter's parents, see, for example, 1905 Minnesota State Census, St. Louis County, population schedule, Duluth, Hunters Park, ED 2, sheet 7 (penned), "Consecutive Number of Enumeration" entry 266 for Ronald M. Hunter and entry 269 for Douglas J. Hunter; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 December 2017), citing

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Asking for Films to be Added to FamilySearch's Digital Collection

I've been working on some Ohio research lately and yesterday's finds led me to Knox County deed book films that haven't been made available online yet.

I recalled reading something about asking FamilySearch to add films to a wish list and a bit of online searching took me to a FamilySearch article titled "UPDATE: FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm." It says "if customers need access to a particular film yet to be digitized, they can express interest to have it added to the priority digitization by contacting FamilySearch Support." [1]

So, I called the number (1-866-406-1830) and inquired.

The short of it is, I was allowed to ask for up to five films and so I did.

This morning I received an email telling me three things:

  • My request was submitted.
  • They might not be able to put a film online; it depends on permission from the record owner.
  • They can't tell me when the films might be available and can't notify me if/when it happens, so I should just keep checking back. [2] 
Fair enough! I'm not in a hurry and I appreciate having a chance to make the suggestions.

Some of the other films in the same catalog entry are available online, so I'm hopeful this will work out. If you want to follow the progress with me, here are the films I requested:

"Deeds (Knox County, Ohio), 1808-1901"

Films: 314030, 314031, 314032, 314056, 314059

Have you had experience requesting access this way? If so, please share your experience in a comment.


     1. "UPDATE: FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm," FamilySearch Newsroom, 30 August 2017 ( : accessed 5 December 2017).

     2. FamilySearch Support, Salt Lake City,  to Cynthia Richardson, e-mail, 6 December 2017, "Digitization Acknowledgement," privately held.

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