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A dreadful way to die!

This sad story is based on just one document - the Death Certificate for Robert CRIMES who died in 1952 in Virginia. Some US states have allowed to publish images of original Death Certificates for deaths prior to 1980. Virginia is one such state and, whilst browsing the collection of Virginia Death Certificates I came across this sad case.

The Certificate states that "This man was found dead by road-side". Cause of death is given as "Exposure" and "Malnutrition". There was no informant of the death, and all sections of the Certificate relating to family members are either marked "Not known" or are blank. As a final indignity, the section of the Certificate headed "Burial, Cremation or Removal" was marked "Removal" and "body being turned over to Medical College of Va [Virginia]". In other words, his body was used for the benefit of medical science, but had not been donated, as there is no reference to a family member who might have approved the donation. I presume that Robert was identified by documents on his person. The section of the Certificate normally containing Date of Birth has the words "About 70", presumably an estimate made by the medical practitioner who completed the Certificate.

It would be easy to dismiss this Certificate as being the result of mis-naming of the individual, there being no other records yet found for a Robert CRIMES b.abt.1882 Virginia. However, there are a few other records for white people named CRYMES who died at South Boston, Halifax County, Virginia (Robert's place of death) and South Boston is in the same area as Chase City, Keysville and most importantly Lunenburg where there have been many CRYMES and CRIMES families. So it is at least feasible that a black person named Robert CRIMES could have lived in the area.
If anyone reading this knows more about Robert, please contact me.

David Chrimes

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