Portion of the death certificate for Henry Goldenstein who died in Kansas City, Missouri on 7 July 1921. Digital image made from Missouri State Archives website on 24 November 2015.

There are two numbers written in the cause of death portion of Henry Goldenstein’s 1921 death certificate from Kansas City, Missouri.

The 170 I understand–it’s the code for suicide by firearm.

The 167 I’m not certain I do understand. That code is for suicide by poisonous gas and all references to Goldenstein’s death (including his death certificate) indicate that he died as the result of a gunshot. That’s what the death certificate says as well “Suicide–Fire Arms.”

I’m not certain if the 167 is an error, a reference to contributory cause of death (which isn’t stated on the death certificate) or is simply an error.

Goldenstein’s family thought he was murdered. That would have changed the cause of death to a homicide, but the fire arm portion would have remained the same.


International List of Causes of Death, Revision 3 (1920)



The “International List of Causes of Death” can be referenced on this website.




5 Responses

  1. Only speculating, but perhaps he sat closed in a running car with carbon monoxide surrounding him, but also shot himself while in that same car. Thus, two possible leads to his death by suicide. Sounds like something we might read in a mystery novel. With no autopsy, only inspection, his family may be correct that he was murdered rather than dying by his own hand. Perhaps some old news articles from the time of his death will provide more information.

    • Possible. Everything indicates the event took place in a motel room, but there are still some records I am working to locate.

  2. Have you seen the article where two physicians, an undertaker, and a coroner signed an affidavit denying the presence of any gunshot wounds and demanding an investigation? The affidavit states he died as a result of a blow to the head from a blunt instrument and when they removed the skull a clot was found on his brain.

    Found here: Date: Sunday, July 31, 1921 Paper: Morning Star (Rockford, Illinois) Page: 2

  3. If in a motel room, could it have a gas heater or something similar? Realize it was summer but could have turned it on and then decided to use the gun. Or someone could have used the gun and then turned on the gas just to further confuse people. Maybe I read too many suspense thriller books, 😉 Interesting case tho.

    • Those are good comments. In this case, I don’t think we’ll ever know what really happened. The Kansas City police determined it was a suicide. The family back home had three examinations of the body that indicated it could not have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound and death was probably caused by blunt forced trauma to the head. I hadn’t thought of the gas being turned on too.

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