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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Was He Murdered?!

1832 Peter Selgrad Death Record:


No. 12. Petrus Selgrad, 10 Januarii
Anni millesimo octingentesimo trigesimo secundus die vera octava Januarii subito extinctus est Petrus Selgrad civis et clavarius ex St. Ingbert maritus relicto Eva Bauer. Sexaginta et novum annarum aetatis. Qui die decima Januarii in caemeterio parochiali est sepultus Tla Lester J. Pfeiffer parochas in St. Ingbert.

Rough Translation:

No 12. Peter Selgrad, 10 January
In the year one thousand eight hundred thirty-second on the eighth of January Peter Selgrad suddenly was killed, a citizen and nail maker of St. Ingbert, married to the (now) widowed Eva Bauer, (he was) 69 years of age. He was buried on the tenth of January in the parish cemetery. [Signatures of clerks] in St. Ingbert.

The phrase “subito extinctus est” means suddenly or unexpectedly he was killed, slaughtered, destroyed, or extinguished. That verb choice “extinctus” has a lot of evil-sounding connotations in its possible meanings! So, was he murdered? It sounds like it was more than an accident. Also, almost all the other death records in this book use the words “obiit,” or “abiit,” which mean simply “died.” I wish there were more information on the death record. This is my direct ancestor and I really want to know!

Next I found that Peter’s wife, Anna Eva Bauer, died three days after his funeral. Her record says that she received the last rites of the Catholic Church before she died, but Peter didn’t. I’ve been watching Father Brown Mysteries on PBS and it seems that he always administers the last rites to murder victims, just in case, I suppose. Why didn’t Peter receive them? I don’t know the rules for this ritual.

It’s curious that Eva died so soon. Broken heart? Had she been sick and couldn’t recover from the blow of her husband’s death? But back to that violent scenario, I wonder, were they attacked and he died immediately while she lingered a few days more? Yikes. It’s an explanation that fits the known facts and the aura cast by that unique verb choice, but of course I don’t have all the facts.

I know I am influenced by my habit of reading murder mysteries. I read tons of them. Back to the facts and a less malevolent scenario: they could have been involved in a terrible accident that left Peter dead and Eva mortally wounded. After all, the parish clerk did not use any of the several Latin words for “murder,” and I have to suppose that his choice was deliberate and descriptive.

Hm. Could this tragedy have led to his children moving clear away to the United States within the next few years? If the nail making workshop were destroyed as a part of this tragedy (maybe there was a terrible fire), perhaps his son Jacob decided not to try to rebuild but to work for the iron works in town until he had enough money to buy passage for his entire family.

More research!


  1. AHAH!!! Clearly a Murder Mystery!! Call in the Inspector!!

  2. Having continued my search in the records, I find that only one Selgrad family, a nephew and his wife, remained in the area after this time. They all scattered! Very interesting!


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