So here it is, just another ordinary 1930 census record. But what you don't know is that there is a dead man enumerated here and if I had simply been checking census records, I never would have given this record a second glance. So how do I know that the gentleman listed on line 40, "Gillian, Burt", is a dead man? Let me show you...
John Burton Gilliland is the oldest son of Mathias Wesley Gilliland and Martha Masters. While searching for Mathias and Martha, I came across the Find A Grave memorials for them both. I also searched to see if any one related to them was buried in the same cemetery. Luckily, John and his wife, Lillie are both buried in the Gilliland family plot along with several others.
J. Burton Gilliland
July 24, 1872
January 19, 1930
Now, having a death date, I went to FamilySearch.org and put in the information to see if I could find John’s Texas death certificate. Bingo!
Notice his cause of death “ extensive burns over body due to boiler explosion” and place of death, “at Blue Ribbon Laundry”. Sad!
This information got me thinking… the boiler explosion and John’s subsequent death took place in Dallas, Texas. This was probably a big news story. So over to GenealogyBank.com I went.
Sure enough, the explosion was big news with a front page story including a photo. The headline of Monday, January 20, 1930 reads” Borthers-Owners Killed in Blast Which Wrecks Dallas Laundry”. The article goes on to give a little information about John and brother, Roy Gilliland.
J. B. GILLILAND, 45, ... was instantly killed, his body mangled when struck by flying steel from the boiler.
ROY C. Gilliland, 42, ... died an hour and a half later at Parkland Hospital.
A tragedy for their families to be sure! Here is the accompanying photograph with caption:
So… John B. Gilliland died on Sunday, 19 January 1930 but how do I know that he is the same "Gillian, Burt", enumerated in the 1930 census?
Take a look at the John B. Gilliland family enumerated in the 1920 Census in Highland Park, Dallas County. (I’m sure this is the correct family.)
Below is the family headed by “Gillian, Burt” in the 1930 Census in Highland Park, Dallas County.
This is clearly the same family even though the enumerator misspelled the last name!
The census date for the 1930 Census was April 1, 1930 and the census taker enumerated the Gilliland household on April 12, 1930.
Voilà! Dead Man Enumerated!
How then was John Burton Gilliland, who died on the 19th of January enumerated in this household? The only explanation that I can come up with is whom ever the census taker spoke to misunderstood the census date to be the first of January, 1930 when John was most certainly alive.
Any other thoughts from you My Dear Readers are most welcome!
- 1930 Census images from Ancestry.com. Highland Park, Dallas, Texas;District 97;Page: 40A; Lines 40 through 48
- 1920 Census image from Ancestry.com. Highland Park, Dallas, Texas; Enumeration District 4; Page 16B; Lines 93 through 100
- J. Burton Gilliland grave marker photo courtesy of Find A Grave member, jphil090855 (#47101088). FindAGrave.com memorial is # 27255120.
- Texas death certificate image for J. B. Gilliland; Death Date: 19 Jan 1930 in Dallas, Dallas, Texas from FamilySearch.org.
- Newspaper photograph part of a larger article from the Dallas Morning News of January 20, 1930; part 1, page 1 from GenealogyBank.com