When first studying any database I begin with the same surname, Cohen. I do this because I can get a good indication of how complete the collection is by how many records for the Cohen name are included. In the case of this collection a search of the collection shows that 3,118 results for the name are included. I chose the very first entry which was the death of a 3 year old boy, Max Cohen, who died on 1 November 1881.
Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas on 14 November 1881. This document came from a Coroner's Inquest which was held to examine the untimely death.
The death of the 3 year old boy is a very tragic story. From the account, given by his mother Bertha Cohen, at the inquest we find that the family lived on the second story of a three story building in Cleveland. The third story was home to a saloon, from which every morning they threw the empty beer kegs out of the window. On this morning young Max went out to see what was causing the noise when he was hit by one of the empty kegs and killed. The first part of her statement is shown below.
While the record documents a tragic event, it is important because it comes almost 30 years before the State of Ohio began the keeping of death certificates. The records that would exist of this child are few and this is just a piece of a very small puzzle. Using the clues we have, the name and age of Max, his mothers name, Bertha, and their address we can find them in the 1880 Federal Census of Ohio. That record, shown below, further completes the puzzle.
With this information we are able to return to the Ohio, County Births, 1841 - 2003, database we mentioned earlier. There we are able to find the record of Marx Cohen the son of Elias and Bertha Cohen who was born in March of 1878 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio. That record is shown below.
We can now follow young Max from birth to death. Even though he died young and was not able to leave a long paper trail we have enough information that we can make sure he is never forgotten. We should be supportive of all groups that make the effort needed for these records to be available for researchers to use.