In January someone turned in an urn of ashes that was found in the storage area of the basement of the Black Diamond Bakery. The urn was labeled with the birth and death dates for Helen C. Morrison, who died Sept. 19, 1977.
I have been doing genealogical research for a long time, but I have never seen a case like this one where there were so many errors in the records.
I began with Helen's daughter, Ruth Kurtti. I found her cemetery record on Find A Grave, and her gravestone indicated she'd died in 1979; however when I checked Ancestry, I found that her actual date of death was 13 Jan 1980, as given on the Oregon Death Index. I found the death date for her husband, and emailed the Astoria Public Library for their obituaries. Those obituaries gave the name of their surviving daughter.
Next I decided to investigate Helen's sister Charlotte Balloway, only to find that on Washington Digital Archives there was no such person. Figuring from the obituary that Helen's (and Charlotte's) maiden name was Cook, I looked for the marriage of Charlotte Cook - and soon found that Charlotte Cook married John Galloway in 1917 in Snohomish County.
Looking at the 1920 census of Snohomish County, I discovered that Charlotte Galloway was born in Iowa, and that her father was born in England and her mother in West Virginia. The 1900 census of Wapello, Richland County, Iowa revealed that "Ellen" was born in October 1891, not 1880.
From the census records I figured that Ruth Morrison was born about 1909, William about 1912, and Charles about 1914. My next step was to look for Washington Death Records - and found that a William E. Morrison (born about 1912) had died in Renton on 10 December 1985 and Charles L. Morrison (born about 1915) had died in Issaquah on 6 April 1981. A trip to the Kent Library to look at their South King County newspapers yielded this obituary for William:
Junetta C. Brown, age 64, lives in Seaside or Cannon Beach, Oregon.
She is the daughter of Ruth Morrison Kurtti, who was Helen C. Morrison’s daughter.
Barry J. Morrison, age 65+, lives on SE 227th Pl. in Kent. He is the son of William “Ed” Morrison, who was the son of Helen C. Morrison.
Leonard E. Morrison was living in Kent in 1986. He is the other son of William “Ed” Morrison, son of Helen C. Morrison.
From this information, Sgt. Lynch was able to contact Barry Morrison, who was astonished to learn that his grandmother's ashes were in the evidence locker at the Black Diamond Police Department. On Tuesday, March 6, we met with Barry and his family to formally turn over the ashes, and celebrate a successful conclusion of a puzzling case!