Friday, March 15, 2019

A Document Tag Team

One of the basic requisites of genealogy is that we document our research assertions. And yet, in my quest to learn more about the life of King Stockton, one thing I was lacking was any documentation of the end of his life.

His biography billed him as one of those rare human beings who managed to live such a long life as to hit the one hundred year mark—but when? And where?

One of my go-to online research resources,, could only provide an entry in the Florida Death Index, an online database provided by Ancestry from an index compiled by the state in 1998. The drawback—besides being only an index—was that the listing provided only the year of each person's death. No month, no day.

I, of course, wanted to see the actual document, mainly because I am nosy and want to read all the information listed, not just the details someone else considered to be pertinent.

While and often share resources—I'm thinking of digitized documents here—I wasn't sure whether I'd get to see any more by hopping on over to FamilySearch and exploring entries for King Stockton there. However, that has been a useful maneuver for me in the past, so I tried my hand at it for this case, as well.

Usually, when the one website contains a document which the other lacks, I can access it with just one handy click of a mouse. However, while I was fortunate to locate the entry I was seeking for King Stockton, in this case, a note appended above the minimized image warned me,
This record may have come from this image. You may need to look through several surrounding images if it does not appear on this image.

In other words, the collection was sort of browsable, instead of outright searchable. Sometimes, a click on the image does provide the record desired. But in some cases I've experienced, I've had to look through upwards of thirty images "next" to the one offered before I locate the person I've been seeking.

This time, though, the document came up on the first try. There it was: the death certificate for King Stockton.

Several details on the certificate assured me I was looking at the record for the right person. For one thing, the record listed his occupation as "Preacher," which I already knew, from other records, was correct. The record stated his place of birth was Georgia, and that his father's name was also King Stockton—although the elder man's place of birth, disappointingly, was listed as "unknown."

As for the younger King Stockton's date of birth, all that was entered was the number, "100"—his given age. For cause of death was listed, "General debility" along with the explanation, "old + feeble with no known disease."

"No known disease" finally caught up with him on June 21, 1929. By then, his wife had already departed—hers was another death certificate I was seeking—and he likely outlived some of his children, as well. The handwriting on the certificate was difficult to read, making it a challenge to decipher the signature of the informant. For reasons that would take too long to explain in a single paragraph, I wondered whether the name was Lillian, and whether that person was one and the same with King Stockton's granddaughter who was listed as Lilly in the 1900 census.

The death certificate showed that King Stockton died in the town of Hastings, Florida, an unincorporated farming village near Saint Augustine.

I had always wondered where King Stockton had been buried, since the family had moved on from their earlier residence in Suwannee County, so I was surprised to learn, from the death certificate, where he was buried. While the information didn't provide the name of a specific cemetery, it did show the name of the undertaker in nearby Palatka. And for place of burial, the location was back in Wellborn, the town where King Stockton had spent the years of his childhood and much of his adult years of freedom, as well.

But in which cemetery? There is only one burial entry in Find A Grave for the surname Stockton in all of Wellborn, and it isn't for King Stockton. If Wellborn was where King Stockton was finally laid to rest, it was either in a grave not yet memorialized on Find A Grave, or somewhere without any marker.

Wondering where he was actually buried reminded me of that photograph my aunt had once showed me of the McClellan Cemetery—of a plaque which is no longer standing at the cemetery. Perhaps there is more missing at that burial location than we might realize, as it had been horribly vandalized in the latter part of the past century.

Bouncing from one website to another in searching for information on King Stockton showed me that I could repeat the process to look for his wife, as well, for her story also needed to be fleshed out with further details. If no death certificate was available at for Louvenia, then perhaps FamilySearch could come through for me once again.   


  1. Again - another great "teaching post." I love to follow King Stockton's story - and on the way I learn much about research methods. Like a story serialized in a 19th century magazine - it leaves me eager for the next chapter.

    1. It does have that quaint ring to it, doesn't it, Lisa?! Glad you are enjoying the journey with me.


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