A Conflicting Evidence Case In Parts: Death Records

I’ve talked about my grandmother, Jennie Elizabeth Payne in past posts: How Eight Children Ended Up Living Alone in 1930 and The Questions a Record Begs Us to Ask

I’ve always had trouble with the conflicting evidence around the birth of her youngest brother Otto.

Otto Baxter Payne is believed to be the youngest child of James Robert Payne and Eva Georgia Baxter.  Otto’s gravestone states that he was born December 16, 19231.  James’ death certificate states that he died on January 23, 19232. If these two dates are correct, it is highly unlikely that James is Otto’s father. If Otto was born in 1922 it would be possible for James to be his father.

Now I obviously could order the birth certificate, and assuming it was correct know the answer. But basic methodology says you need two sources from separate informants. AND I could use some practice in conflicting evidence. So I’ll begin my search using just online evidence.

Today, I’m going to look at the death records I have found.

Death Records for Otto Baxter Payne

1. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 17 Oct 2013), memorial page for Otto B Payne,  Find A Grave Memorial no. 11082230, citing Mountain Rest Cemetery, Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, North Carolina.

Comment: The tombstone states that Otto died on November 3, 1993 at the age of 75.  He was born on December 16, 1923. The source of the information is unknown.

Genealogically significant facts:

  • Name: Otto B Payne
  • Birth: Dec 16, 1923
  • Death: Nov 3, 1999
  • Served as a TEC 4 in the US Army  and a SSGT in the US Air Force in World War II and Korea
  • Has a Christian Cross on the tombstone
  • Buried in Mountain Rest Cemetery, Kings Mountain, NC

2. U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Oct 2013), entry for Otto B Payne, died 3 Nov 1999; citing National Cemetery Administration, Nationwide Gravesite Locator.veterans-gravesite-otto-baxter-payne

Comment: This is an index to veteran’s tombstones and the informant is unknown.  It is possible that the information in this index is taken from Otto’s Tombstone.

Genealogically significant facts:

  • Name: Otto B Payne
  • Birth: Dec 16, 1923
  • Death: Nov 3, 1999
  • Service Info: Tec 4 US Army World War II, Korea
  • Cemetery: Mountain Rest Cemetery
  • Cemetery Address: S Dilling St Kings Mountain, NC, 28086

3. Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Oct 2013), entry for Otto B Payne, 1923, SS no. [REDACTED FOR PRIVATE USE].ssdi-otto-baxter-payne-2

Comment: It is very likely that Otto supplied the information on his SSN application.  He would have applied before 1951 and at that time he thought his birthday was December 15, 1922.

Genealogically significant facts:

  • Name: Otto B Payne
  • SSN: XXX-XX-XXXX
  • Last Residence: 28111 Monroe, Union, North Carolina, USA
  • Born: 15 Dec 1922
  • Died: 3 Nov 1999
  • State SSN issued: North Carolina (Before 1951)

4.  “MONROE – Otto B Payne,” Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, 4 Nov 1999; online transcription, “Newspaper Archives, 1690-2010,” GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 22 Oct 2013).

Comment: We do not know who the informant is for this obituary or if they knew Otto’s age or if they were guessing.  If his age is correct, then he was born in 1923 and not 1922.

Genealogically significant facts:

  • Name: Otto B Payne
  • Parents: James Robert Payne, Georgia Ann Baxter payne
  • Died: Nov 3, 1999
  • Died at age 75 [ if his birth day was Dec 15 or 16, then he was born in 1923]
  • Church: Grace United Methodist Church
  • Military: Veteran WWII, U.S. Army
  • Interred: Mountain Rest Cemetery, Kings Mountain, NC, Nov 5, 1999
  • Surviving family: Cindy Payne, Monroe, NC, daughter; Eva Payne Avery, Duback, LA, sister; numerous nieces and nephews.

Analysis of the Records

From the death records, we already have conflicting evidence.  3 records (one is an index) state that he was born in 1923 and 1 states that he was born in 1922.  None of these are definitive in proving what year he was born.  Although I do think they demonstrate the conflict pretty well.

Tomorrow, we will analyze the birth records that are available online.

Footnotes

1. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 17 Oct 2013), memorial page for Otto B Payne,  Find A Grave Memorial no. 11082230, citing Mountain Rest Cemetery, Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, North Carolina.
2. “North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975,” database online, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed  8 Nov 2009), entry for James R Payne, death date 5 Jan 1923; citing North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, North Carolina Death Certificates; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

2 Comments

  1. Jim Payseur says:

    I knew Otto Payne. His brother, Floyd, was my Godfather.
    -Jim Payseur
    contact me at I have some questions, too.

  2. Robbie Payne says:

    Hey Anne Gillespie Mitchell. I have often thought about that myself. There were 9 children, Uncle jack was in the Army at the time and not home, so you are right about 8 raising themselves.
    Our Great Uncle, help them a lot. I think he was a Baxter, and owned a hotel in Gaffney SC. He had a driver and some fancy car. The drivers name was Converse. The Homeplace and current barn was built about 1932, after our grandparents died. There was also a black lady “Aunt Sally” that watched after them. During all of the hard times and them having no parents, I know two familes that claim they would have starved had it not been for the Payne’s. They planted fields away from the house and folks lmew it was for them to take. They would only come at night for being ashemed of needeing help.
    I coiuld go on but I’ll save it. I have a copiy of our family, the last entry is 1972. Which is the birth of my youngest sister, Lee Ann Payne.
    Jimmy, where are you these days? I’m still on Payne Rd. I assume you’re the Jim whose dad was Baxter Payseur.
    We really need to plan a family reunion. Aunt Eva is still living, she is 94. catch her on a good day and her mind can be pretty clear. When she leaves us, it’s gone.
    My Mom always said that the Paynes should have had a TV show about them like thae Waltons did.it really is an amazing story.
    Back to the conflicting dates. My dad (Robert H Payne) had two birthdates, and two SSN’s. This was discoverd about the time of his retirment. One was Dec 11 1914, the other was Dec 11 1915. 1914 is the correct date.
    Let’s keep this going.
    Robert (Robbie) Hord Payne Jr.

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