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If the Tennessee death certificate for John Tindell (1836-1915) leaves the father's name blank and fills in the mother's maiden name as Jane Tindell, should I infer that John was illegitimate, or is it just as likely that whoever completed the form only knew the mother's married name? The informant has the last name Tindell, but the first name is illegible (at least to me).

picture of portion of death certificate

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Yes, the information provided on the document suggests that John was probably illegitimate. However, don't assume anything.

The only way to verify whether this is true is by finding additional evidence.

The informant's name appears to be Cordell P. Tindell, and you can verify this by using other resources such as census records.

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    You're right: There is a Cordell P. Tindell of the appropriate age showing up in the census records. Thank you. – Ellen Spertus Jul 2 '15 at 20:19

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