Posted by on May 10, 2014 | 1 comment

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The most shocking surprise of my visit to Lizzie’s grave was discovering that she had outlived her son. With Edward’s death date written in stone (literally), it wasn’t hard to locate his death certificate, which contained answers to questions asked in previous posts, such as What’s Up with Edward and Immigration Shenanigans.

The document offered yet another proof-point that Lizzie’s life was filled with heartbreak. In 1894, her 30-year-old husband died within six months of his tuberculosis diagnosis. Twenty-three years later, her 31-year-old son was diagnosed with the same disease. Unlike his father, however, Edward endured with his “pulmonary tuberculosis” for seventeen years before finally succumbing to “tuberculosis of the intestines” at the age of 48. I can’t imagine the terror that Lizzie felt after learning that Edward would suffer from the same affliction that took Patrick from her life. Knowing that she lived through that experience twice is one of the saddest things that I’ve uncovered during this project.

The document then tells us that Edward worked as a clothes salesman between 1908 and 1920. If the information is accurate (something that I’m always weary of), he began his selling career at 22 years old, where he worked for nine years before his TB diagnosis. According to the dates provided, he toughed-it-out for three more years before stopping work at the age of 34.

I found myself drawn to the year 1908, which also coincided with the postmarks described in What’s Up with Edward. Perhaps the overlap was just a coincidence, or could Lizzie have been trying to teach her son the virtues of “early to bed, early to rise?”

Malden-sourced death certificates contain a field for “Informant.” Edward’s is listed as “Mrs. Elizabeth Milligan,” which initially elevated my trust in the document’s accuracy–except for one glaring error. Edward’s birthplace is listed as Charlestown, Massachusetts, which we know is incorrect, yet at the same time, it supports our theory of Immigration Shenanigans. It also proves that Lizzie was complicit in the deception.

And finally, the handwritten entry into box #5 sets a major directional change for the future of this project. In it, Eddie is listed as “Single.” Therefore, as Lizzie’s only child, who died as a single, 48-year-old man, it’s safe to assume that Eddie never fathered a child of his own, thus ending the Milligan branch of the Nestor Family tree. Any fantasy that I may have entertained with regards to returning Lizzie’s cards to her great-great grandchildren must remain as fantasy, since Edward took the Milligan name with him to his grave.

And so, I’m back to tracking down distant relatives–an endeavor which has proven fraught with genealogical landmines.

But it’s all good. I’m up to the task.

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