Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Follow-up to “You can’t believe everything you read”

You can read the original post HERE. Kathy T. sent the following via a Facebook message and she gave me permission to share it here with you.

“Suggested reason why the paper "got it wrong" - that's what the family put in. Suggested reason why the family put that in - there was an extended illness that the family had been covering up, and the accident was a direct result of that illness and the family didn't want to accept the truth. Suggested "extended illness" - depression, alcoholism, mental illness of some kind.  My next move given the apparent disparity between the truth and the family's public story - look for medical records for the years prior to his death.”

Excellent!  Kathy is thinking like a true detective.  Yes, this had crossed my mind but I have a couple of roadblocks.  There is no one left alive that would be able to shed light on this.  Jimmy had six siblings.  Two of them didn’t make it to adulthood.  Of the other four, two never married nor had children.  Of the two left, one had two children but both of them are dead.  The last one has one child alive.  I have been in touch with her but for many years.  She would be the only person left that could possibly shed some light on this but I would need to track her down. 

Here is another bit of a mystery.  My husband said that Jimmy never married nor had any children but his death certificate states he was widowed.  The 1920 census shows Jimmy living with his mother but in 1930 he is married and his wife’s name is Marie.  The census shows that they had married within that year.  By 1940 he is back living with his mother though he is listed as single and not widowed.  Sounds like a trip to the courthouse is in my future.

Jimmy died at University Hospital in Augusta and the hospital is still there but even if the medical records from that time still exist I won’t be able to get a copy of them due to privacy laws.  I would have to be the executor/administrator of Jimmy’s estate or Jimmy’s spouse, child or parent.  The only way I could get them would be with a court order and I have no compelling reason for a judge to grant one (Georgia statute O.C.G.A. § 31-33-2).

Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Was there an autopsy, or a coroner's jury proceeding? Liver disease or tuberculosis or diabetes could be indicative of family belief without being literally contributory to cause of death.

    1. The autopsy YES or NO boxes are not checkmarked either way but it would be highly unlikely that an autopsy was done unless there was some compelling reason to do so. This is 1966. Unless there was some reason to believe his health or health status was a major factor in this accident or if the accident was deemed to not be an accident (suicide/homicide) then maybe. If that were the case, I think that the doctor would have made an effort to check the box. With no checkmark at all it is more likely that there wasn't one done.

      HOWEVER, there certainly may be a coroner's report. The coroner can weigh in whether or not an autopsy is actually performed and this is still true today. That would be worth exploring. If there was an autopsy done then this information would be in the coroner's report. (If there had been an autopsy but no coroner's report then I wouldn't be able to access it anyway since that would be a protected medical record).