Tag Archives: Transit Permit – Dead People

Unusual Record to Document a Death: Tracking John Sabo, 1900-1910, Passaic, NJ

On Thursday, I reviewed George G. Morgan’s excellent book, How to Do Everything: Genealogy, Fourth Edition and mentioned that I would be talking about a death record resource of which I had never heard.

Thinking about it now, I realize this record makes perfect sense, but it isn’t one the general public would normally see or need. Today, a funeral home would take care of this.

What is this mysterious record? It’s a transit permit for transportation of a dead human body.

It sounds rather grim, but these permits have been issued by city and county clerks for a long time – at least since the beginning of the 20th century. I did just a cursory search for information and found one reference to such a permit in 1893.

I also have no idea how many of these permits from long ago are still in existence. They apparently can be housed at a funeral home, a cemetery office or, in some cases, at the city or county office where they were issued.

Why did I get so excited about these permits? My grandfather’s oldest brother was John Kucharik, born 25 August 1877 in Okruzna, Slovakia. The family left Slovakia in the mid 1880s and, by 1900, were settled in Passaic, New Jersey. John was still at home living with his parents and siblings in the 1900 census.

If he married, I have found no record and no other mention of him has been found after that census. His mother, Mary, reported in 1900 that she had given birth to eight children, five of whom were still living. By 1910, she reported that she had only four living children. Those surviving were Mary, Anna, George and Stephen Jr. John had obviously died.

However, I have found no death record for John, who most likely died in Passaic, where the family was living. His parents, Stephen and Mary, are buried at St. Peter’s Greek Catholic Cemetery in Garfield, Bergen County, New Jersey, but that cemetery wasn’t established until 1910. Their son, George, was buried at St. Michael’s Cemetery in South Hackensack, Bergen County, but that cemetery wasn’t established until the 1920s.

I believe he was probably buried in a Roman Catholic cemetery because there was no Greek Catholic cemetery in the area until 1910.

Again – Why did I get so excited about these permits? I almost jumped out of my chair when I read page 199 of Mr. Morgan’s book. There are two images of transit permits. The first, from New York, was included because details on it are sparse. The second has lots of wonderful details and it is from PASSAIC, dated July 1903!!!

What are the odds of that? It has definitely motivated me to try to hunt down the cemetery where John Kucharik is buried and to contact the city and county clerks to see if they might have any early permits stowed away somewhere in a box or drawer.