Minnesota Death Records


Not that long ago, I posted about Ostrom Witherell, my 2x great-grandfather’s brother and what could have happened to him. I mentioned that Ostrom’s father died in 1915 and the obituary mentioned that Ostrom was in Grand Rapids. Now, me being me, assumed that meant Grand Rapids Michigan. However, an astute reader noted that it was Grand Rapids, Minnesota!

And that led me to a new-to-me resource: Minnesota Death Records!

These records are held at the Minnesota Historical Society website where they actually have a number of great sounding indexes, but I stuck with the death certificates for the time being.

The Minnesota Death Records go from 1904-2001 and can be searched by using two search engines: either PeopleFinder or the MNHS Research Materials. Either one uses the same kind of search technique. First I narrowed down by collection:


MHS Death Records Collection

Then used the search term Witherall as well as narrowed down the year:

MHS Death Records Collection Search

And there were two very sad results:

MHS Death Records Collection Results

*Mabel’s last name was spelled differently, obviously, and took narrowing down the years and her first name to find her.*

Ostrom’s death certificate said he was a widower and his wife had been Mable Sheehan – could this be the same? And was that baby boy his? So I ordered the records to see what they could say. Each cost $9.00 and they arrived in about 10 days.

The result – Mabel Sheehan was the wife of Ostrom Witherell and that baby boy was their child. Mabel was born around 1892 in Canada, which is also where she was removed for burial in Toronto. She died of eclampsia after the birth of said baby boy. (1)Minnesota Historical Society, death certificate no. 1913-MN0005468 (1913), Mable Weatherell; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul. Are any of you fans of the TV show Downtown Abbey? Remember the horrific death scene of Sybil? Mabel died from the same thing. I can’t imagine Ostrom’s grief over losing his baby boy AND his wife in one day.

For Ostrom’s story, this does give me some other clues. Next I’ll check for marriage certificates in Toronto as well as Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Ostrom’s mother was from around Toronto as well (another brick wall of mine) so perhaps there could be a link there?

His story aside – this is a great resource for those with Minnesota relatives! The index was easy to use and the ordered copies came within two weeks, which is always a plus!

Please like & share:

Sources   [ + ]

1. Minnesota Historical Society, death certificate no. 1913-MN0005468 (1913), Mable Weatherell; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.


Friday Finds 15 April 2015


Friday Finds for week ending 22 April 2016


  1. Such a sad story! But great to know about the Minnesota resource.

  2. Nichelle,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2016/04/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-april-22.html

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Who knew there was a Grand Rapids, Minnesota?! What a good tip – that we should check cities that might exist in other states too!

    • Nichelle Barra

      Yes! Even those well-known ones (like Grand Rapids) should be checked and confirmed. 🙂

  4. Nick W

    Not sure if you know that Minnesota marriage records are also online– not 100% complete–

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