Obits & an Inquest

Henry Hays, reportedly born in 1808, was killed in 1888. Because he is my four times great grandfather, I have been curious about the facts of his life since I started researching in 2003. Initially, I only had information from family bibles. My challenge with this source if I don’t know who originally entered the information on the family page.

I know that he has a shared family plot in Fairmount Cemetery in Polo, Illinois, but I haven’t found officially information regarding his death yet.

Maryland genealogist, Bob Fout, first found this obituary for me in 2011. This provides support for the information outlines in the family bible and hints at additional details that were not previously known.

Henry Hays Obit

Image source: (1889, January 3) A Native of This County Killed. The Herald and Torch Light, (Washington County, Maryland). p. 3. Saved online at

I found the remaining four obituaries in March 2014 through and

Henry Hays Obit

Image source: (1888, December 21) His Head Cut Off. Freeport Journal-Standard, (Freeport, Illinois). p. 2. Saved online at

Henry Hays Obit

Image source: (1888, December 22).Henry Hays Obituary. Sterling Daily Gazette (Sterling, Illinois). p.5. Saved online at

Henry Hays Obit

Image source: (1888, December 27) Henry Hays Obituary. Sterling Standard, (Sterling, Illinois). p. 4. Saved online at

Henry Hays Obit Jackson Sentinal

Image source: (1888, December 27) Henry Hays Obituary. Jackson Sentinel, The (Maquoketa, Iowa). p. 8. Retrieved on 1 Jan 2015 from

The 22 Dec 1888 article from the Sterling Daily Gazette mentioned a coroner’s jury which led me to request the Carroll County Coroner’s Inquest Record from Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northern Illinois University. It is always exciting to receive an envelope in the mail with photocopies and other records.



Image source: Carroll County, Coroner’s Inquest Record, 1872-1906. Illinois Regional Archives Depository System at Northern Illinois University

But I have not yet found a death certificate. I’ve asked the IRAD Intern to search the death records index in Ogle county indexes (before I realized he died elsewhere) and Carroll county indexes, but no records were found.

So, the search continues.

Last Saturday at the DuPage County Genealogical Society annual conference, speaker Katherine R. Willson suggested checking whether a cemetery sexton has a burial transit receipt. This will be one of my next steps.

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