Why You Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Read. . . .

My Grandmother’s Obituary:

SHERMAN, NELLIE VIOLA
Age 84 years in Riverside, April 30, 1976. Mother of William F. Sherman Jr. & Vincent E. Sherman. Also survived by 7 grandchildren & 5 great-grandchildren. Private services and inurnment were held in Evergreen Cemetery. Acheson & Graham Garden of Prayer Mortuary Directors.

Let’s take this obituary apart.  It’s a short one, so it will be easy to do.

1.  SHERMAN, NELLIE VIOLA
Age 84 years in Riverside, April 30, 1976.

Her name, age, place of death and date are correct.  So far, so good.

2.  Mother of William F. Sherman Jr. & Vincent E. Sherman.
Yes, she was the mother of William F. and Vincent E. Sherman.  However, if nobody knew, they’d assume both of them lived in Riverside, wouldn’t they?  After all, the obituary was published in Riverside and she died in Riverside.  The assumption would be wrong. William F. lived about an hour south of Riverside in San Diego County and Vincent E. lived across the country in Virginia!

3.  Also survived by 7 grandchildren & 5 great-grandchildren.
Yes, she had 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

4.  Private services and inurnment were held in Evergreen Cemetery.
Now this is where the facts are really, really wrong!  Private Services?  No.  Inurnment at Evergreen Cemetery?  Definitely No.

This obituary was printed in the newspaper on 1 May, the day after she died.  Now, how conceivable is this?  Services and inurnment held in time for the morning paper?

Private Services were held . . . but not until June 15 when her name was on the headstone with her mother in Springhill Cemetery in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania!

Inurned in Evergreen Cemetery in Riverside, California?  Never happened.  She wasn’t inurned until she was inurned with her mother’s remains in Pennsylvania.

I remember the day she died. My father, the above mentioned William F., called me at work to tell me.  I left work and headed for my parents home an hour and a half away.  I do not remember any services or inurnments since they lived in San Diego County and she died in Riverside County. Since I have her death certificate and all of the bills and receipts from both the mortuary in Riverside and cemetery in Shippensburg, I can say with confidence that the obituary is wrong.

So who furnished the information for the obituary?  The family usually does, don’t they?  Well, yes and no in this case.  The family furnished the information about her descendants to the mortuary, and the mortuary furnished the information to the newspaper. . . . . embellishing it a little.

Springhill Cemetery, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Springhill Cemetery, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania


In summation, death certificates and obituaries, are not always to be taken as gospel.  They are only as accurate as the knowledge of the person furnishing the information.  It’s the same today as it was in the days our ancestors lived and breathed on this fine earth!

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4 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Read. . . .

  1. Thanks, T.K. ~ you flatter me, because I think my granddaughter is cute! (Of course, I do!!) We are both blue eyed, natural blondes (although I’m a much whiter shade of blonde these days!)

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