02 May 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Isidore Morris Death Certificate

Death records: they giveth with one hand and taketh with the other. They can provide opportunity to learn new things and to be led astray. It's always critical to evaluate the likelihood that the information provided is correct.

Bronx County, New York, Certificate of Death, Number 12512 (22 December 1947), 
Isidore Morris, Municipal Archives, New York, New York.

I was pleased, early on in my research, when I first acquired this death certificate because it gave me the names of my great grandfather Isidore's parents: Solomon (Mazewitsky) and Sarah Klein. Since Isidore was born and married in Europe and did not have a any known siblings who had also emigrated. I've not yet located any vital records from their village. This death certificate is the only source of information I have regarding Isidore's parents. Solomon's name is repeated on Isidore's gravestone as Shlomo.

More recently, I returned to the death record to try to gauge when Isidore and Sarah Myers Morris might have moved back to New York City from their farm in Perrineville, New Jersey. It was then that I noticed that the information provided regarding how many years Isidore had lived in New York City did not agree with information from other records in my possession. Uh-oh.

The most certain bit of information on a death certificate is the date of death and, if it is included, the cause of death. In this case we see that Isidore died on 22 December 1947. The cause of death is not included on this record.

Beyond that information, one is in the hands of the informant, who may not have been thinking clearly or who may not have known the correct information, or the person who filled out the certificate.

Parent's Names

Murray Morris, Isidore and Sarah's fourth child and second son was the informant on Isidore's death certificate. Murray was about 6 years ld when he, his mother and his siblings emigrated in 1910. [1] So, his memory of the family shtetl and his grandparents was likely minimal.

However, Isidore's father's name would have been referenced ceremonially if Isidore was ever called to the Torah in Synagogue. And, it appears that Saul Morris, Isidore and Sarah's youngest child who was born in 1917, was named for Isidore's father. So, it is likely that Murray, as informant, knew his grandfather's Hebrew name. I have, however, no way to evaluate Isidore's mother's name.


In the 1930 United States Census, the family (Isidore, Sarah and Saul Morris) is living at 234 East 105th Street, New York, New York. [2] In the 1940 Census, the Morrises are living in Perrineville, New Jersey. [3] 

The death certificate indicates that Isidore resided at 627 Manida Street, Bronx, New York at the time of his death.
It also provides under item 16e, that he'd lived at the Manida Street address for 3 years. That would have meant that Isidore and Sarah, at the latest, had moved back to New York City in about 1945.

I might have been somewhat happy with this if not for item 2e (length of residence in the City of New York): 23 years. Twenty-three years earlier would have been 1924. This is wildly off from reality. Isidore landed in New York in January 1906 and his family joined him in 1910. Federal and State census records indicate the family was in New York City in 1915, 1920, 1925, and 1930.  

I have not been able to resolve the length-of-residence-equals-23-years issue. It's just wrong. As far as the move from New York City to Perrineville and back, I was able to determine the approximate dates with deed records from Monmouth County (acquired by my cousin Hal Blatt). Isidore and Sarah purchased the home in Perrineville in 1933 and sold it in 1945. [4] So, the 3 years indicated for residence at the Manida address is probably accurate.

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 January 2012), manifest, Vaderland, Antwerp to New York, arriving 7 June 1910, p. 1, Sure Morris; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
2. 1930 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, Enumeration District 31-816, sheet 4B, house 234, family 92, Isadore Morris; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 May 2012).
3. 1940 U.S. Census, Monmouth County, New Jersey, population schedule, Millstone Township, Enumeration District (ED) 13-120, sheet 11-A, family 243, Isadore Morris; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 May 2012). 
4. Monmouth County, New Jersey, Deeds, Book 1639, page 94, George Moskowitz to Isidor Morris, 30 October 1933, Monmouth County Archives, Manalapan.
Monmouth County, New Jersey, Deeds, Book 2003, page 27, Isidor and Sarah Morris to Joseph and Esther Horowitz, 14 May, 1945, Monmouth County Archives, Manalapan. 

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