Monday, 8 June 2009

Experience with the OGS IOOF insurance papers database

As reported previously, the Ontario Genealogical Society has made available online as a membership benefit access to an index to a database of Independent Order of Foresters Insurance Papers.

In the most recent OGS Toronto Branch electronic bulletin Linda Reid (no relation) writes about the experience of a Branch member Vera Reed who purchased copies of two IOOF applications for two generations of ancestors with the surname King: Dr. Edmund Eleazar King and Josiah Brown King.

I thank Linda for allowing me to reproduce that report here.

"A search on the surname "King" brings up "Buckingham" and some other names that include the letters "king" before the entries for "King" itself. The entries appear to be in order of policy number, but these don't give a chronological order.

There are three occurrences for Edmund Eleazar King:

1. on page [i.e. screen] 5 King, Edmund E., born 13 April 1862, application from Toronto, policy 1198, policy date 10 December 1890

2. on page 6 King, Edmund E., born 13 April 1862, application from Toronto, policy 2634, policy date 29 December 1890

3. on page 7 King, Edward [sic] Eleazar, born 13 April 1862, application from Toronto, policy 5277, policy date 29 December 1890

For Josiah Brown King , there are two applications. Note that the policy with the higher number predates the one with the lower number:

1. on page 1 King, Josiah Brown, born 4 July 1836, application from Toronto, application 1323, application date 29 March 1886

2. on page 2 King, Josiah Brown, born 4 July 1856 [not 1836!], application from Toronto, application 3050, application date 23 November 1885

Not wanting to pay $10.80 times 5, Vera ordered the first application for each man and hoped for the best.

Edmund's policy 1198 turned out to be a class C application and besides the usual information about date of birth, occupation etc. it gives the ages (but not names) of the living siblings and the cause of death for the deceased siblings. It gives the ages of his parents (no names) and the fact that they were in good health. To the question of "which parent do you resemble most?" Edmund said "cannot say". His spouse was the beneficiary and she is named. The medical/health information, the reason that access is restricted, is very limited. During the previous 12 months Edmund had "La Grippe / Mild attack". One page is headed "medical examiner's certificate" and it is completely blank except for "See application Class A" scrawled across it. Vera wonders which of the other two applications for Edmund might be class A.

For Josiah policy 1323 is a class B application and has no information on siblings or parents. The beneficiary is the spouse and she is named. During the previous 12 months he was under treatment by a physician for a slight injury from a piece of falling ice."

Linda comments "Some of us thought that access to the IOOF applications was going to be a member benefit so it is disappointing to get only as far as the index for free. The full information can be very limited and it is frustrating (and costly) when there is more than one application for a single individual all made around the same time. If anyone orders multiple applications for one person, please share whether you see a pattern as to what is class A, B or C and which one has the fullest information or is most useful. One wonders what the order was in the books that have been taken apart and what significance it had."

To add to Linda's comments, as the amount of information you get for your $10.80 appears to vary depending on the type of form OGS might be more precise than the current description "the actual form contains a great deal of information: health information, marital status, occupation, beneficiary (usually wife, parent, or sibling), number of siblings, and a health status of siblings, parents, and grandparents (often including age at death but not including names)."

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