Ancestry.com has two indexes for deaths in Cook County:

Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Cook County Clerk. Cook County Clerk Genealogy Records. Cook County Clerk’s Office, Chicago, IL: Cook County Clerk, 2008.


Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Illinois, Cook County Deaths 1878–1922.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Illinois Department of Public Health. “Birth and Death Records, 1916–present." Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.

Are these indexes based on the same ingestion of the records, or can they be considered somewhat independent? The reason I am asking is that I am looking for a death record for Samuel M. Rothschild, whose death is reported here in the Chicago Tribune on 7 Jan 1920:

Samuel M. Rothschild death notice, Chicago Tribune, 7 Jan 1920

If the two collections are based on the same scan of the data, then the omission of the same record from both collections is not an independent event, probabilistically-speaking. If, however, the two scans are independent, it seems much less likely that they both accidentally skipped the same record. Then the possibilities are that he did not die in Cook County, or that his death was not reported. His death is not recorded in the Illinois State death index either, and his death notice does not mention him dying away from home, so I am at a bit of a loss to account for the details of his death.

What other hypotheses should I entertain? Where else might he have died? For the record, he sometimes went by the name Marcus, and was born in 1835 in Germany, probably in Hesse-Darmstadt.

  • Rather outlying take, but the "Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988" has a "Samuel Roth" said died 23 Dec 1919.
    – GeneJ
    Jan 12, 2013 at 0:11
  • He was born in 1877 in Hungary, not in 1835 in Germany. And Roth and Rothschild are both sufficiently common names that they are unlikely to refer to the same person... Jan 12, 2013 at 0:27
  • I did say it was a reach, but remember too that what you are seeing is an index--we don't know the condition/circumstance of the original from which that index was created.
    – GeneJ
    Jan 12, 2013 at 0:29
  • The FamilySearch Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 database includes the original images, and I can't find him there, either. Jan 12, 2013 at 1:21

2 Answers 2


I am inclined to the view that the two datasets are independent and that you can probably accept the absence of evidence (in two sources) as real evidence of absence.

At http://www.deathindexes.com/illinois/cook.html, there is the following set of options

You can also search the death index at Ancestry if you have a subscription: Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 2.7 million entries (requires subscription fee)
You may be able to obtain scanned copies of the death certificates 1878-1922 for free at: Cook County Deaths 1878-1922 from FamilySearch (1910-1915 is missing for Cook County, excluding Chicago).

Note that there is no reference to a 1910-1915 "hole" in the Ancestry set indicating that it came from a different source.

Note also that a search at the County Clerk Online also fails to show up Samuel. Of course it is possible that the County is working off the Ancestry digitised dataset.

The obituary refers to "Intermal {Interment?} at Rosehill" which did cause me to lean strongly toward Chicago despite the absence of a record, until a Google search suggested that every second Jewish Cemetery in the USA has that name (slight exaggeration)!

If wife Yettchen did die in Cook County on 3 Feb 1913 and was buried at Rosehill two days later, would the children have buried Samuel somewhere else?

The address given for the funeral service certainly looks like it is Chicago (currently the site of Alpha Towers apartments) and there was a funeral chapel there as late as 1947. I would try to find who operated that and hope they had records of shipping his body in (from ...?) for burial.

The really puzzling aspect is where were Samuel (and family) in 1910 at Census time? Might this reflect an anti-guvmint streak in their views? Dodge the census in 1910 and then not register his death in 1920?

  • He is in the 1910 and 1900 censuses in Chicago. I am less sure about the 1870 entry, as the wife is named Jennie there. But that's fodder for a different question! Jan 11, 2013 at 17:28
  • A timely reminder for me to use multiple sources. My quick check of an (unnamed) commercial provider turned up the 1900 but not the 1910. Sorry to trail a red herring!
    – Fortiter
    Jan 12, 2013 at 1:12
  • The nice thing about the FamilySearch databases is that you can link to them and everyone can see what you found, unlike some (unnamed) commercial providers. Jan 12, 2013 at 1:23

www.cookcountygenealogy.com has a samuel rothschild who died on 9/21/1944. Obviously, not yours. I also checked www.cyberdriveillinois.com and the death index in case the death was outside Chicago. The 1919 death at www.familysearch.org shows that the person was 42 years old. Also not yours.

I would contact the cemetery and see if they have a death certificate in their files or more information. Either they or the funeral home (they should know that) could have a copy.

Best of luck! I even tried Rothchild, but you may also try the soundex and other variations in your search.

  • Thanks! I've tried soundex and spelling-variant searches, I've tried searching on dates alone, with and without the first name, with the last name reduced to 'rot*', etc. No luck! Jan 12, 2013 at 1:43
  • The funeral chapel no longer seems to exist, so tracking down what happened to their records would take some doing... hoping for lower-hanging fruit! Jan 12, 2013 at 1:44
  • Could this possible be your guy? geni.com/people/Max-Marcus-Rothschild/6000000013521068787
    – Wendy
    Jan 12, 2013 at 2:28
  • Seems unlikely. He never used the name "Max" in other records, and the November death is hard to make sense of relative to the January death notice. Also, the Geni record doesn't a spouse or any children. Jan 12, 2013 at 3:53

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