Thursday, August 26, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Death Certificate of Nova Martin



Photo of Nova Martin and great-granddaughter, Ginger R. Smith taken in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1995, privately held by Ginger R. Smith, Durham, North Carolina. 


Nova Lee Peters was my Great-Grandmother on my Mother's Father's side. She was born September 11th, 1908 in the town of West Plains, Oregon County, Missouri to William Edward Peters and Dora King. On November 9th, 1927, she married my Great-Grandfather, Orville Godwin, in Thayer, Oregon County, Missouri. (View their marriage License and Certificate here). Nova died August 22nd, 2000 at the age of 22 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas.

Orville Godwin was from the town of Mammoth Springs, Arkansas, just a hop and a skip across the MO-AR border below Thayer, which is where their five children - Lou Ella, Dorthy Mae, Jennie Lee, Lawrence Orville Jr., and Mary (died in infancy) - were born and raised in the 1930s prior to Nova and Orville's divorce sometime in the 1940s. Orville Godwin ended up in Tulsa, Oklahoma working for a sign painting company and Nova ended up in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Orville met an unfortunate death at the hands of his neighbor and his handgun in 1956. You can read about his murder in the Tulsa Daily World here.

Nova remarried to a man named Eddie Martin and stayed in Fort Smith, Arkansas until her death, August 22, 2000. We had just celebrated her 90th birthday two years prior. Eddie had been gone for a long time, but Nova never lost her zest for life.

For this week's Treasure Chest Thursday, I have decided to focus on Nova Martin's death certificate that was obtained from the Arkansas Department of Health, Division of Vital Records. I have one of the original copies given to my Grandfather at the time of her death.

A poor scan of Nova Martin's death certificate, Fort Smith, Sebastian Co., Arkansas, 22 August, 2000, privately held by Ginger R. Smith, copyright 2010. 

Information provided in this death certificate:
Name of deceased: Nova Lee Martin
SS#: 431-16-8832
Date of birth: 11 Sept 1908 in West Plains, Howell Co., MO
Date of death: 22 Aug 2000 in Fort Smith, Sebastian Co., AR. Died in the Fort smith Rehabilities facility in Fort Smith, Sebastian Co., NC.
Marital Satus: She was widowed.
Occupation: a Federal Employee with the US Government
Residence: 1504 Bluff Ave in Fort Smith, Sebastian Co., AR, 72901
Parents: Her father was William Peters, mother was Dora King
Informant:  Lawrence Godwin, Jr. of 1504 Bluff Ave, Fort Smith, Sebastian Co., AR 72901
Undertakers: Putman Funeral Home at 4300 Jenny Lind Rd., Fort smith, Sebastian Co., AR, 72901
Burial: 24 Aug 2000 at Mt View Cemetery in Hackett, Arkansas (View her tombstone here)
Cause of death was "Cerebral Vascular Accident"

This death certificate was instrumental in determining who Nova Peters' Mother was. It clearly lists her parents as William Peters and Dora King. Up until seeing this death certificate no one in the family had any idea what her Mother's name had been. But upon hearing that her Mother's name was Dora King, the family immediately recognized the name and remembered that Dora had died young from a snake bite, around 1912, and William Peters had remarried two or three times after.

I was also able to check off another box in my "My Great-Grandparents" post I published last year in order to help me see what I had and what I was missing in terms of obituaries and death certificates in my collection. I had hoped to have it 100% completed by the end of this year, but i'm not sure if that will still happen.

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