Help with Death Certificate Mystery

+4 votes

I have a mystery on my hands! An ancestor with several sources including Find A Grave, that all show one marriage, and several children.

However, there's a death certificate that shows the correct parents and birth with a different married name (and there are no other siblings that could match). She married James Casteel but her death certificate says "Raby". Both are common names in Tennessee, and the graveyard in which she was buried is called Raby.

I thought that might be the mix-up, but looking at the written page, that doesn't fit. Here's the certificate:

Does anyone have a theory or idea as to what's going on here?

WikiTree profile: Mary Casteel
in Genealogy Help by Lisa Linn G2G6 Mach 8 (80.6k points)
I thought I had excellent knowledge of my recent ancestors because my grandfather had written tons about every one of them, his favorite hobby having been genealogy. One day I found someone had stuck the wrong wife attached to my great-grandfather on FindAGrave, so I demanded the memorial be transferred to me and I removed this wrong information. Fast-forward to today: I was just putting together my application for the Mayflower Society, going through the motions getting all of the birth/marriage/death certificates on everyone because the Society won’t just take my word for it, even about my own mother, and wouldn’t you know it that same lady appears as his wife on his death certificate. Finding the marriage record was easy enough once I convinced myself of the need. (I found two additional wives for my 4-great-grandfather as part of the same process.)

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
Name: Mary Casteel
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 26 Oct 1926
Event Place: Lincoln, Tennessee, United States
Gender: Female
Spouse's Name: Thos S Roby

"Tennessee State Marriage Index, 1780-2002," database, FamilySearch( : 4 December 2014), Thos S Roby and Mary Casteel, 26 Oct 1926; from "Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002," database and images, Ancestry ( : 2008); citing p. 220, Lincoln, Tennessee, United States, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee.

by Deb Durham G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
selected by Lisa Linn
Name: Mrs Mary Casteel
Gender: Female
Marriage Date: 26 Oct 1926
Marriage Place: Lincoln, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Thos S Roby Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.

Free Image

Great find Deb.  Although the marriage index shows her only as Mary Casteel, the image of the license reads Mrs Mary Casteel.

Edited to add

Here is the image on Family search 

"Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 December 2016), Lincoln > Marriage licenses, 1926-1928 > image 287 of 1630; citing Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville and county clerk offices from various counties.

Thomas S Raby

"Tennessee Deaths, 1914-1966," database with images, FamilySearch( : 26 August 2019), Thos S. Raby, 23 Jan 1927; Death, Booneville, Lincoln, Tennessee, United States, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.

Thank You! Why on earth could I not find that?

And do you know even when I put in the exact spelling of his name (as above) and the  date for the marriage it will not come up!

I've given up on trying to figure out FS's search algorithm. I don't think they understand it themselves. I just mess with it, adding and subtracting things, until I get a hit now and then. I'm glad I could find it for you though and thank you for the star.blush

+3 votes

Interesting!  The census won't be able to help, i suspect, because if she married a Mr Raby, it would be after the 1923 death of her husband, and by 1928 she has passed away and Mr Raby predeceased her, if there was a Mr Raby.  

Here is a pic of the memorial marker that was erected honouring her husband and saving a space for her.  Note that the date of death has not been filled in on the grave marker.  Maybe the cemetery itself will know whether she actually occupied that space.

Did any of her children marry a Raby?  I'm just wondering if the person who filled in that part of the death cert accidentally transposed something - the name of the cemetery, or the name of someone in the room at the time...or the next death being registered...

In any case, it will be a very short time period to search for a second marriage.

I will keep looking for that marriage.



by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (204k points)
Deb got it!
That's exactly what I did! Finally got the records and added them to her profile.
+4 votes
I know this does not seem likely, but to cover all bases, have you checked to see if there is a marriage record for her marrying a Raby after her first husband died? The death certificate says she is a widow but the possibility exists that she could have been twice a widow. The only other idea I would have is that the doctor who filled out the death certificate made a mistake - and that is a big one!!

I hope you post back here to let us know if you find the answer.
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (832k points)
As soon as I posted, I see Deb and Shirlea posted and Deb wins with the answer!!

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