Funeral Card Friday: William Presley the Deceiver

William Presley’s Funeral Card

William Presley is my great-grandfather, my mother’s maternal grandfather. He has been a research challenge from start to [not yet] finished. Thankfully, I absconded with the funeral card above early in my genealogy research career.

William died 10 December 1893 possibly in Long Branch, Monmouth County, New Jersey. He was actually 48 when he died, not 47 as the funeral card indicates. I know this because, despite all of William’s attempts to deceive me, I have proven that he was born 28 May 1845 in Belfast, Ireland. I wrote in-depth about William the Deceiver in an Ancestry magazine article in 2004, What If Your Ancestor Lied?

As discussed in the article above, finding additional proof of William’s death has been problematic. I have been unable to find a death certificate on the state or local level in New Jersey. On a visit to Long Branch some years ago, I spent time in the Long Branch Public Library looking for an obituary or even a death notice. Again, I was thwarted because the particular issues of the Long Branch newspapers where such a notice would have appeared have apparently not survived.

So I extended the search outward from Long Branch and have found some death notices. I was hoping to find amplification of the family lore that he died because of a fall from a horse. Here’s what I have found:

New York Herald, 12 December 1893 (through

Red Bank Daily Register, 20 December 1893:

The Shore Press, 22 December 1893:

None of the above notices give any clue about his death cause. However, today, through a search on, I found William listed on, with a typed death notice from the Red Bank Register of 20 December 1893 that says:

“Death Notice:
William Presley, a carpenter of North Long Branch, died on Sunday of last week after a long illness. He had been confined to his bed for over a year, having injured his spine by falling from a wagon. He leaves a widow and six children.”

Aha! There’s some illumination on his death cause, but where did the transcriber get a copy of this newspaper item? A search for the Red Bank Register uncovered the digitized Register achives for 1878-1991. In the spirit of remaining hidden, the 20 December 1893 issue of the Red Bank Register is not included in this digitization project, although the other three issues from December are.

Not to be thwarted, I searched for “Presley” in the 1878-1923 portion of the archives and found the notice below in the 17 May 1893 issue:

So, I’ve found some confirmation of a family story, albeit a little different as he was thrown from a wagon instead of being thrown from a horse. I now have new information to pursue in this never-ending quest to find information about William Presley’s death. My first step is going to be to look for a death certificate for William in New York instead of New Jersey, since he was being treated in “a New York hospital.” That may be why I’ve been unable to find his death certificate in New Jersey!

I’m finding that writing this blog is cathartic, as well as moving my family research along with questions and answers that were previously too hard to decipher without the use of the wonderful resources on the Web.

Be sure to check out the Memorial Day special below from; the offer is good only through 4 June 2011.

© 2011 – 2016, Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, CG. All rights reserved.

One Response to Funeral Card Friday: William Presley the Deceiver

  1. Pingback: I Know This Face… | No Descendants

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