Writing a Complex Reason Statements for FamilySearch

FamilySearch is a great online research service where you can build your family tree and attach records and memories to the leaves on your branches. However, there is one kind of recordset that you need to be aware of.

Index to Kentucky Death Record on FamilySearch.org

An index is a great starting point but it doesn’t tell you everything on a record. And, sometimes the information is slight to completely wrong in the index. So, it pays to see if you can find the original record in another resource.

I am a computer-based genealogist. I will not go to a genealogical library if a record can be found online. I just don’t have the time and the libraries are rarely open at 2 am when I’m in my pajamas.

So, I headed over to Ancestry.com. I did a search using the information from the Kentucky Death Index found on FamilySearch. Within a snap and no parking meters, I was looking at the original death certificate for my 3rd great-grandmother!

Birthdate: 8 Dec 1836 Birthplace: Kentucky Death date: 12 Nov 1913 Death place: Campbell, Kentucky, United States Ancestry.com ” Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1963

Check out the cool facts on this document!

  1. Parents: William Stone (of Pennsylvania) and Mary Ann (of Kentucky).

  2. Informant: William Peak of Columbus, Ohio. (This is likely William Talbot Peak, her son as her husband died in 1880).

  3. Death Place: She died in Dayton in a Hospital. (I can’t read the word between Dayton and Hospital. Any clue?)

  4. Burial Location: Evergreen Cemetery in Bellevue, Kentucky

  5. Cause of death: Pneumonia Lobar. According to Wikipedia, Lobar pneumonia is a form of pneumonia that affects a large and continuous area of the lobe of a lung

All of these are great pieces of information. How would I craft a reason statement for this record?

On Ancestry.com, they don’t provide that option. On FamilySearch, I would have to write a reason statement for the index but I could mention that I actually saw the referenced original document.

Index to death record for Emily Peak of Bellveue, Kentucky. The original record, available at Ancestry.com in their “Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1963” Collection, provided further connecting information. The informant was William Peak of Columbus, Ohio, believed to be her son William Talbot Peak. This record provides the names and likely birthplaces of her parents “Wm Stone & Mary Ann”.

Now, that reason statement looks a bit advanced but, it’s really not that complicated. I identified what kind of record I viewed, where an original version of the record could be found, how I knew it was of my ancestor, and what additional pieces of information I gleaned.

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Be sure to understand when you’re looking at an index on FamilySearch that it’s really not the same as the actual record. Had I believed the index, I would think that Emily’s maiden name was Stine not Stone. So, go for the original record.

If you find it, then leave a ‘compound’ reason statement where you mention the FS record you are attaching and the evidence from the original source (in this case Ancestry.com).

If you have made a compound sentence in grammar school, you can make a compound reason statement.


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