One Man. Two Different Death Certificates.

The frustration over my great-grandfather’s cause of death not being documented on his death certificate had been brewing for three years.

Certified copy of the death certificate for William Askew.
Date: Jan 24 2017

I was angry.  How could such an oversight be made?  I charged it to racism.  I believed that those responsible for documenting and keeping record of his death just didn’t care.  After all, it was the era of Jim Crow and many whites believed “the only good negro was a dead one.”  Just documenting that the man was dead would be enough.

A couple of days ago, a cousin shared some recently found documents with family members.  One of the documents was William Askew’s death certificate.

Certified copy of the death certificate for William Askew.
Date: Apr 23 1991

It was the same document, but the one shared by my cousin has the primary and contributory (secondary) causes of death clearly documented.

The release of my frustration has now been replaced with confusion.  I am grateful to have this copy in my possession.  This proves that there was no oversight, nor negligence.  I have mentally issued an apology to all parties I internally cursed.  Now, I know why and how he died, but why does he have two version of the same death certificate?

I have no idea how to begin, or even, where to begin to investigate this.

2 thoughts on “One Man. Two Different Death Certificates.

  1. Maybe the local coroner was hiding the facts from news reporters or the family? So he made a second one? How did he die? Some kind of cystitis of Gastro tract?


    • Hi there! Thanks so much for reading my blog! That handwriting’s not the best, so interpretation was difficult, but it looks like cholecystitis and gastralgia. The stomach pain (gastralgia) was probably a result of his infected gallbladder. I’m inclined to believe that my great-grandfather died of sepsis due to the necrotic tissue in his gallbladder pumping gangrene into his bloodstream.


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