Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Success: Finding a Death Certificate With a Misspelled Surname

My last post was about how I found my grandfather's younger brother's birth announcement by searching a newspaper using their address - not their surname. Before finding this article, I didn't know his date of birth. And, I still hadn't learned the baby's name as each of the birth announcements just named the father. In this case, Frank.

Michigan death records for 1897 to 1947 are online at Seeking Michigan. I had not been able to find the baby's birth by using his surname, Kaechle, so I decided to search using other information. Searching the Michigan death records for 1897-1920, I used the advanced search feature and entered the following:

  • Father's Given Name: Frank
  • Birth Year: 1909
  • County: Wayne
Baby Kaechle was the fifth record on the list! The surname had been written poorly and was transcribed as "Koehle." The baby's given name was Frank, like his father. Strangely, he had an older brother named Frank who lived to be over 50! 

Michigan Department of Community Health, death certificate, file no. 1464 (1909), Frank Kaechle; Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan; digital image, "Death Records, 1897-1920," SeekingMichigan ( : accessed 8 November 2017).

Frank Kaechle was born on 18 June 1909, and died the next day of "gastrointestinal hemorrhage." My grandfather was only 2 1/2 at the time of his brother's birth, and never mentioned this brother to my mom. I don't know if he remembered him or not.

I'm thankful to now be able to remember the short life of my grandfather's baby brother, and to grieve with the family over the death of this little boy.

[I'm still quite busy with BU, which is going great! I plan on blogging more faithfully when it's over.]


  1. Dana, this is a great tip. Sometimes I forget to try the advanced search feature...and your success is a wonderful reminder to search creatively. Thanks.


Color Clustering: Top 25 Fourth Cousins

For more on Color Clustering & DNA, please visit my new website at:  For another look at how Color Clustering works...