Death Certificate of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted November 15, 2013 by Amanda | One Comment

One of the most important records in genealogy is an individual’s death certificate. Bursting with vital information, death certificates can be that key document to unlocking your family’s long standing mysteries and brick walls.

Let’s discover what information can be found in death certificate by taking a close look at the death certificate of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born February 7, 1867 in a log cabin outside of Pepin, Wisconsin. Soon after her birth, the family left the Big Woods of Wisconsin to settle in Indian Country, near what is now Independence, Kansas. When the family discovered that their new homestead was actually located on an Indian reservation, and therefore they had no legal right to occupy it, the Ingalls moved back to Wisconsin. The family would continue to move along the prairie before finally settling in South Dakota.

It was this early time of her life as a pioneering family that formed the basis of what would be her beloved novels Little House on the Prairie and Little House in the Big Woods. Their popularity would continue grow tremendously after her death, ultimately spawning a much-loved television series.

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According to her death certificate, Laura died on February 10, 1957 at the age of 90 in Mansfield, Wright County, Missouri, which is the same as her place of residence. Other information includes her sex (female), color or race (‘W’ for white), marital status (widowed) and her date of birth. Her occupation is provided as “author” and her field of business as “writer.”

The place of birth and citizenship of the deceased could potentially provide a very important clue in your research, especially if the deceased individual had immigrated and became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. Laura’s birthplace is listed simply as Wisconsin, although we know she was born in the “Big Woods” of Wisconsin. Her death certificate also reveals that she was a citizen of the United States.

Another great advantage of having a death certificate is that the document may also provide you with the names of the person’s relatives, including their parents and spouse. If you’ve been struggling to find the names of those family members, especially maiden names, a death certificate may just be the boon you have been looking for. Here we are given the names of Laura’s parents, Charles Ingalls and her mother’s maiden name, Caroline Quiner. Unfortunately, her husband’s name is only listed as deceased. The informant’s information is just as important because often it is an immediate family member or other close relative. We see that Laura’s daughter, Rose Lane, is listed as the informant and that her place of residence was in Danbury, Connecticut.

If the person’s military affiliation and social security number were provided in the death certificate, you will have yet another new path to investigate. In Laura’s case, she neither served in the U.S. armed forces nor did she have a social security number.

Death certificates will also reveal the cause of death and information as to whether the individual had died under suspicious circumstances. This is significant because these bits of information can help provide you with clues for other areas to research. In Laura’s case, the certificate lists her cause of death as cerebral hemorrhage due to hypertension and arterosclerosis. Lastly, her burial information and the funeral director’s name and signature is provided at the very end; yet another vital clue if you are trying to locate a relative’s burial location. She was buried February 13, 1957 in Mansfield Cemetery.

View the document on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Geni profile

Have death certificates revealed any new information in your genealogy research?


Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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