This year I was fortunate enough to attend RootsTech 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. RootsTech is the largest genealogy conference in the world and offers a number of training sessions and access to the newest gadgets and apps. This year over 30,000 people registered! While at the conference I was able to scoot over to the Family History Library, which was only a block away. I have been dreaming about going to this library for years!
Microfilm collections are located on the second floor of the library while book collections are on the third floor. I started off looking in the book collections for Danville and Pittsylvania County and was glad to see several books published by Mike Williams. I did not find much in the book collection so I made my way downstairs to the microfilm collections. I must say that I was in microfilm heaven! They had thousands of reels and over 100 microfilm machines. I was very shocked to discover that they had left handed machines! Once I found a table and unpacked my laptop and research, I decided to take another look at the death record for Emma on FamilySearch.org. One of the missionaries working that day informed me that to the right of the record was a microfilm number. All I had to do was find that reel and I could look at the record. The reel number beside Emma’s death record was #2048580. Honestly, I did not get too excited about this discovery at first because I thought the film would only tell me the same information as the transcribed record. However, it kept pondering in my mind so I decided to take a look at the film and this is what I found:
The moment I found this record my heart dropped. I was very excited to know her cause of death…but I was more saddened by the way she probably suffered. After slavery ended my ancestors made their living as sharecroppers. Emma could have easily consumed unpasteurized milk that led to the scrofula. I am not sure how long she endured the symptoms but I can imagine that it wasn’t pleasant.
I did learn something from this experience. I was relying on the transcribed document that was on FamilySearch.org and assumed that the microfilm wouldn’t tell me anything else. For about an hour I went back and forth in my head about whether or not to check the film. Thankfully I just went for it and I hit the jackpot. I guess the moral of this story is to always look at the resources that are available to you. Do not assume that the information will not be there because there is a slight chance that the missing pieces are right there!