My dad had an older brother named James Filmore Simmons who was born 29 April 1935 in Lamar County, Mississippi. He died a short three years later on 24 November 1938 of Diphtheria. I am not eligible to get a copy of his birth certificate but one of my uncles was kind enough to write off for it and I now have it in my possession. The problem is Filmore’s death certificate. His death is not on file with the Mississippi Department of Health. I have inquired on three separate occasions over the years hoping that they would find it. My uncle recently contacted the Lamar County Circuit Court and they said that they didn’t know where the local copies of the death records from that time period were but they would contact the former Clerk of the Court to see if he knew. My uncle just emailed me this…
“The current people at the Lamar County Circuit Clerk's Office checked with the former Clerk and the former Clerk stated that records that old were destroyed years ago. I guess they never expected anyone to ask for them. Since the Circuit Clerk was responsible for notifying the State, I have run into a dead end (no pun intended) and have no other place to look.”
Filmore’s dad (my grandfather) told me that he died of Diphtheria so there’s that but I feel like Filmore’s life is an incomplete story. There was no obituary in the local paper which didn’t surprise me because this was a very poor family in a rural area. The local funeral home that handled the deaths of other family members has no record of Filmore’s death and it is likely he was simply buried by the family. Filmore does have a grave marker though which is something.
Photograph copyright © 2011 Barbara Lee, used with permission