Tessie Mund, 19 years of age, appears as a member of the Flashenberg household in the 1930 Census. She was the cousin of Great Grandfather Benjamin.
For some reason, I was struck by a feeling that brought to mind how nice it was for Great Grandmother Tillie to have a young woman for company now that her daughters had married and moved out.
Remembering stories that my parents told me about Great Uncle David and his battle with diabetes I immediately thought that having another woman in the house would be a comfort. Great Grandmother Tillie would have someone else to converse with and, perhaps, keep her company and help with preparations for Shabbos and the Jewish holidays.
There was an unexpected development in my research, though. About two weeks prior to the 1930 date in which Tessie Mund appears with the Flashenbergs at their Midwood home in the Census, another Tessie Mund is entered to the Census as living with her parents, Michael and Mary, at Jerome Street in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn.
Searches through the Social Security Death Index brought back only one Tessie Mund with a date of death of October 15, 1987. I manage a memorial for a Tessie Mund at FindAGrave. Her date of death on the headstone, and as confirmed with Ms. White at the Cedar Grove Cemetery Association, is October 18, 1987.
I was determined to find out if there were two Tessies or just one. There was something compelling me to keep going in my research despite the fact that death certificates are usually given only to direct line descendants.
New York City has a Help Line Phone Number 311 that we can call as a starting point whenever there’s a question about anything from garbage collection to landlord/tenant problems and even getting a copy of a death certificate.
So I called in early October 2012 and told my story about the search for Tessie Mund. I explained to the Representative that I can only locate one Tessie Mund who passed on in 1987 in New York. If I could get a copy of the Death Certificate I can determine several things:
1. Her parent’s names and countries of birth.
2. Her mother’s maiden name.
3. Her full date of birth.
Having this much information can help me determine if the Tessie Mund on the death certificate is the same as the Tessie Mund for whom a FindAGrave memorial exists. It can also help me get details about where the funeral services were held and date of burial.
For all I know there could be an error in the transcription of date of death entered to the Social Security Death Index available online. I have to try all possibilities. That is why having a hard copy of the actual document is so important.
Knowing the Mother’s maiden name might also help when researching Great Grandfather Benjamin’s family in the future.
There’s no way to say which way the results would go but I feel compelled to keep on going.
This is how I stated it during the call.
The Representative at 311 was very interested and said that since my motivations are focused on family history and I have documentation to prove my descent from Benjamin Flashenberg I should give it a try. I’d have to include notarized copies of my photo ID and should include a letter explaining the family history project.
I created a complete packet of supporting documentation to prove my descent from Benjamin Flashenberg and asked for consideration of the fact that I’m trying to properly memorialize the Tessie Mund at FindAGrave. If there was some error in the SSDI I could then undertake a correction using the Death Certificate as proof.
I know it seems so strange to work off a Death Certificate but it’s a starting point from the present and gives details that can lead back to the time the person lived and who the people were around them. It includes the name of the doctor who last saw them, who discovered the body or reported the death, the name of the funeral director. The address of where they last lived is also included.
In a way the point of death leads back to the process of the life as the research progresses and more pieces of that life come together.
I waited patiently after sending the application and supporting documentation to the NYC Department of Health-Vital Records on October 20, 2012. While I awaited the Death Certificate for Tessie Mund I began to research the family of Michael, Mary and Tessie Mund for whom I manage the memorials at FindAGrave.
Thanks to Chris West, a FindAGrave volunteer who translated the Hebrew on their tombstones, I was able to confirm that Michael Mund was the father of Tessie Mund. It was a start. With hope and a prayer I mailed my packet to the NYC Department of Health and turned to researching the Mund Family.
1930 Federal Census
Social Security Death Index
Mund Memorials at FindAGrave