Grave marker with inscription: J. M. Christiansen June 16, 1873 July 4, 1914.

Jens Christiansen’s Date of Death

Today I’ve been working on a collateral line, mostly trying to establish what happened to the father of an in-law, Emma Christiansen. In 1910, she appears in a family with Jens and Anna Christiansen as parents in Mason City, Iowa. But in 1920, her parents are Joseph and Anna Lytle. Anna remarried and was living with a second husband. Obviously, something happened to Jens between the 1910 and 1920 censuses.

Someone had helpfully uploaded to Ancestry an image of a page of inscriptions from a family Bible or similar. Here’s the inscription for Jens:

Inscription: Jens Marinus Christiansen Born 1873-1916
Jens Marinus Christiansen Born 1873-1916 (credit: Ancestry member odat12x12 )

Yet, I couldn’t find anything that corroborated that date. Looking on Find a Grave, there was a marker for a J.M. Christiansen in the Elmwood St. Joseph Cemetery in Mason City.

Grave marker with inscription: J. M. Christiansen June 16, 1873 July 4, 1914.
Marker for J. M. Christiansen (credit: GeneGraver on Find A Grave)

But I couldn’t find anything to corroborate that date either!

FamilySearch has an index record for a Jens Christiansan who died on 5 Jul 1915. Unfortunately, I can’t access the image from home and I don’t have the keys to sneak into a FamilySearch center (it’s Christmas Eve folks!), so I’ll have to look at that in a few days. However, I suspect that’s the correct date as I’ve found something to corroborate it.

On 6 Jul 1915, the Mason City Globe-Gazette published an obituary for a James M. Christiansen. Despite the misnaming, I know this is the correct person because later in the obituary the writer lists all his children, including Emma.

Newspaper clipping: Long Illness Comes To End. James M. Christianson Passes Away At Home At 322 North Jefferson After Long Suffering
Long Illness Comes To End. James M. Christianson Passes Away At Home At 322 North Jefferson After Long Suffering

Moral of the story, yet again: Do not take the first piece of evidence you find as proof, even if it seems solid as rock.

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