Sarah Jane Richardscourtesy of The Richards Family Archives

One of my current genealogical goals is to trace the direct lineage of the Richards surname. I’ve been able to verify that Hank (Frank) was William Oliver’s son, and William Oliver is Francis Samuel’s son. While looking into Francis Samuel’s parents, I stumbled across a vital record, specifically a death certificate, for Francis’ wife, Sarah Jane Richards (pictured above). And as always, I paused my research to log the information on the certificate.

A little background information…

Sarah Jane was born on June 14, 1858 (Wales) and died March 30, 1940, as written on the back of the photo above.

Sarah Jane Richards - BACK

Growing up I always knew that Sarah Jane’s maiden name was Edmunds. I even went to the grave of her parents when I visited Wales in 2001. Below is a picture of the grave with the inscription, “William Edmunds / who died at the Cottage Rhiwderin / May 4th 1897 / aged 69 years” Below that inscription read another, “Also of Emma / wife of the above / who died Oct 15th 19_5 / aged 86 years.”

SCAN0471courtesy of The Richards Family Archives

Below is an image of Sarah Jane’s death certificate.

[As with all images on this site, click the image to enlarge.]

Sarah Jane RichardsFrom (1)

The birth and death dates on the certificate match (exactly!) what was on the back of my photograph – good sign, right? And the residence was 106 Maple St, Massillon, Ohio, which is where she resided in 1930, according to the US Census. Another positive sign. The icing on the cake was her husband being listed as Francis S. Richards and that she was widowed (Francis died around the turn of the century). All the stars were aligned, until I got to her parents. Listed as her mother and father are Jacob Yackee and Jennie Wheeler. Furthermore, Jacob is listed as being from Germany, not Wales.

Trying to find a reason

Being slightly frustrated, I decided to do a couple searches to see if I can get a Sarah Jane and William / Emma combination on any vital records. No luck (yet).

Then I reviewed the US Census records I have on Sarah Jane’s Ancestry page. In both 1910 and 1920 she had a Caleb (Kaleb) Edmunds living with her, and listed as her brother. In 1930, she’s listed as the sister to a Caleb Evans (but Evans does kind of sound like Edmunds – another mystery for another day).

4383845_007781920 US Census (2)

Instead of looking into William Edmunds and his wife Emma, both common names in the UK, I decided to take a look at Jacob Yackee and Jennie Wheeler. After a search, I was able to turn up another death certificate in Massillon, Ohio.

record-imageFrom (3)

Now take a closer look. This file number for this death certificate is 20773, and Sarah Jane’s is 20772. So it may be fair to say that Sarah Jane’s death certificate was a typo. But how do I know that Besse Barbara Kanney is related to Jacob and Jennie?

Luckily, one of my first search results of the pair yielded the marriage certificate between one Besse Yackee and Dan Kanney.

record-image copyFrom (4)

Mystery solved! A typo on the death certificate is simply that, and Sarah Jane is still a possible member of the Edmunds family. But now, to prove that…


1) “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 May 2014), Sarah J Richards, 30 Mar 1940; citing Massillon, Stark, Ohio, reference fn 20772; FHL microfilm 2023832.
2) Year: 1920; Census Place: Massillon Ward 1, Stark, Ohio; Roll: T625_1436; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 110; Image: 778
3) “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2014), Jacob Yackee in entry for Besse Barbara Kanney, 31 Mar 1940; citing Massillon, Stark, Ohio, reference fn 20773; FHL microfilm 2023832.
4) “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2014), Jacob Yackee in entry for Dan Kanney and Besse B. Yackee, 20 Jul 1913; citing Henry, Ohio, United States, reference v 12 p 8 cn 3016; FHL microfilm 423624.