The Lessons of Daniel Boone’s Obituary: Check and Double Check

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary points out some lessons learned from an early obituary of the American folk-hero Daniel Boone.

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) once said: “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Did you know that another great American character, Daniel Boone, could have said something similar? He died at the age of 85 on 26 September 1820—but his death was widely reported in 1818!

Daniel Boone obituary, Providence Gazette newspaper article, 19 September 1818

Providence Gazette (Providence, Rhode Island), 19 September 1818, page 3

The first correct death notice for Daniel Boone that I found in GenealogyBank was published on 30 September 1820, four days after his death. This was a more factual obituary than the one published in 1818, although the legendary image of Boone lying in a blind, with one eye shut and aiming his gun at a deer when death overcame him, still resonates.

Daniel Boone obituary, St. Louis Enquirer newspaper article, 30 September 1820

St. Louis Enquirer (St. Louis, Missouri), 30 September 1820, page 3

The conclusion of this obituary is fairly close to the truth: Boone remained impressively fit and active well into his later years.

conclusion of Daniel Boone's obituary, St. Louis Enquirer newspaper article, 30 September 1820

Conclusion of Daniel Boone’s obituary, St. Louis Enquirer (St. Louis, Missouri), 30 September 1820, page 3

So the lesson from Daniel Boone’s obituary is this: check and double check. Don’t be satisfied with just the first obituary you find. Keep looking for more, since that first obituary may contain exaggerations or inaccuracies—although hopefully, unlike the case of Daniel, the first obituary of your ancestor wasn’t published two years before he or she died!

Interested in finding out more about Daniel Boone, the quintessential American folk-hero, or his family history?

A search of online family trees reveals that Daniel Boone was one of at least 11 children born to Squire and Sarah (Morgan) Boone. Daniel and Rebecca (Bryan) Boone also had a number of progeny, who in turn had many children. With such a large family, you can find numerous Boone relations in your genealogy searches.

A general search of “Daniel Boone” in GenealogyBank will produce over 52,000 hits, so you may wish to limit your results by using keywords or date ranges.

GenealogyBank search box to refine search for Daniel Boone

GenealogyBank search box to refine search for Daniel Boone

Here are a few examples of Boone descendants:

Philadelphia Inquirer of 25 January 1881:

Ex-Mayor Levi D. Boone, of Chicago, died yesterday, aged seventy-three years. He was a descendant of Daniel Boone.

Dallas Morning News of 20 December 1892:

YOAKUM, Tex., Dec. 19.—Died at his residence on East Hill J. B. Boone, aged 58 years, after a lingering illness. Mr. Boone came to this city about two years ago from Hillsboro, Tex. He was buried in the city cemetery at 4 p.m. to-day. Mr. Boone was a descendant of the illustrious Daniel Boone of Kentucky, was born and lived in Louisville, Ky., until sixteen years ago when he moved to Hillsboro.

Kalamazoo Gazette of 27 January 1903:

New Cambria, Mo., Jan. 26.—Fay Boone, an old time Mississippi river captain and a direct descendant of Daniel Boone, is dead, at the age of 89 years.

Idaho Statesman of 22 May 1903:

PIONEER DEAD.

Kansas City, Mo., May 21.—Linville Hayes, a descendant of Daniel Boone and a well known freighter in early days, when he directed the movement of large wagon trains to Salt Lake, New Mexico and Arizona, died today, aged 82 years.

Facts and fiction about Daniel Boone:

  • Daniel Boone was a Revolutionary War patriot.
  • He probably did not wear a coonskin cap; it’s probable he wore black felt and sported a pigtail.

What is your connection to Daniel Boone?

Are you related to Daniel Boone, or did your ancestors explore the frontier with him? We hope you’ll share your ancestral story by tweeting at http://twitter.com/#!/GenealogyBank or posting on our FaceBook page.

Found on FaceBook:

The Boone Society, Inc. at https://www.facebook.com/BooneSociety.

Found on the Web:

Boone Family History and Descendants: The First 5 Generations of the George Boone Family presented by The Boone Society, Inc. and reprinted at http://www.family-genealogy-online.com/little/boone.html, a family history website maintained by Pat and Jim Geary.

Genealogist Chips Away at His Family History ‘Brick Wall’

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott tells how the discovery of a faded news clipping in the drawer of an old desk provided an important clue about his family history.

The most impenetrable brick wall in my personal genealogy quest began as, and continues to be, my maternal great grandfather, Joseph K. Vicha.

When I was starting my genealogy the sum total of our family’s knowledge about my great grandfather Vicha was his name, his wife’s name (Anna Knechtl), and a penciled note of unknown date and author that simply stated “Joseph K. Vicha – Pisec (sic).” Nothing more.

Over the years of my searching, I can happily report that I have been successful in finding my great grandfather’s birth family, home village in Bohemia (Czech Republic now) of Milevsko, and have traced this family line back to the mid-1600s in Bohemia. However, he still disappears from view in 1911. But what wonderful things I am finding in the years between his birth in 1862 and his disappearance in 1911!

What I am discovering to be an extraordinarily useful method in my work is to expand the search terms I am using in GenealogyBank.com and other places.

A couple of examples might help me explain this best.

Quite by chance, my cousin was rummaging through an old family desk when he came across an envelope. It held a barely legible, torn, and undated newspaper clipping. This article showed me that my great grandfather was a labor union activist with something called the C.L.U. in Cleveland, Ohio.

old, faded newspaper clipping about J. K. Vicha, the author's ancestor

Old, faded newspaper clipping that provided the author his first clue in tracing his ancestor J. K. Vicha

Upon learning this I immediately started searching anew on GenalogyBank.com. I searched using terms such as C.L.U., Central Labor Union, and Joseph K. Vicha in the search boxes and I struck gold!

My first hit was an article from the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, dated 28 November 1896 and headlined “Vicha Will Resign. Will Retire From the Presidency of the C.L.U.” I still feel pleased when I think back on that discovery, and am thankful the newspaper articles in GenealogyBank.com are very carefully digitized and come complete with attribution of newspaper and date.

Vicha Will Resign, Plain Dealer newspaper clipping 28 November 1896

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 28 November 1896, page 2

This early article held the new clue that my great grandfather was seeking an appointment from Ohio’s governor, Asa S. Bushnell, to become the superintendent of the Free Employment Bureau. On I went with new searches looking into the Free Employment Bureau in Cleveland and sure enough there was more to be learned! Soon I was discovering that my great grandfather was also a close political advisor to Robert E. McKisson, a two-term mayor of the City of Cleveland from 1895 to 1898.

Mayor McKisson Had His Picture Taken at a Bohemian Reunion, Plain Dealer newspaper article 27 June 1898

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 27 June 1898, page 5

I was fast learning to follow each seemingly unrelated, but actually related, clue in article after article. For instance, moving from Vicha I found myself searching on Central Labor Union, then moving to C.L.U., Mayor Robert McKisson, Labor Unrest, Cloakmakers’ Strike, Lumbermen’s Strike, Czech, Bohemian, and the name of each company where my great grandfather was reported to have been working. One especially nice aspect of GenealogyBank.com is that it not only contains papers from the major Cleveland daily, the Plain Dealer, but it also has issues from the Cleveland Gazette and the Cleveland Leader.

Real Condition Given by Superintendent Vicha of the Cleveland Free Employment Office, Cleveland Gazette newspaper article 15 December 1900

Cleveland Gazette (Cleveland, Ohio), 15 December 1900, page 1

While searching each new term, it was exciting to find that while my great grandfather did start out as a tailor just like his father, he:

  • became a Union organizer
  • was active in some of the most contentious labor strikes in the history of Cleveland
  • was elected the president of the Central Labor Union
  • received a gubernatorial appointment as the superintendent of the State of Ohio Free Employment Bureau in Cleveland
  • fought against sweatshops and child labor in Cleveland
  • authored a bill for the Ohio State Legislature to provide for the teaching of Bohemian (Czech) in the public schools
  • worked as a political advisor to Mayor McKisson
  • was instrumental in the mayor’s campaigning in the Bohemian community of Cleveland
  • and, while making some of the most powerful enemies one could have (such as Mark Hanna, Max Hayes, and United States President William McKinley), great grandfather Vicha was also recognized as one of the most influential Bohemians in Cleveland at that time

Unfortunately, my great grandfather does simply disappear in 1911. Family legend has it that he was branded “persona non grata” by his political and business-community enemies in Cleveland and was forced to leave in order to find work and survive.

Undeterred, I am continuing my hunt—chipping away at the brick wall that is Joseph K. Vicha after 1911. I just have this feeling that the resources of GenealogyBank.com are going to hold the key for me!

Handy Quick List: 10 Raleigh, North Carolina Newspapers Now Online

GenealogyBank is growing fast – we now have over 10 Raleigh, North Carolina newspapers online. That’s a lot of local papers to research your ancestry from the state capital of NC!

Trace your genealogy around the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill metro area and beyond. Here is the complete list of Raleigh, NC newspapers currently available in our online archives.

City Title Date Range Collection
Raleigh Dispatch 12/21/1991 – 4/10/1993 Historical Newspapers
Raleigh Gazette 12/16/1893 – 2/19/1898 Historical Newspapers
Raleigh Midtown Raleigh News 1/16/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Raleigh News & Observer 1/1/1991 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Raleigh News & Observer 5/6/2004 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Raleigh North Raleigh News 7/21/2006 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Raleigh North-Carolina Minerva 11/26/1799 – 5/20/1800 Historical Newspapers
Raleigh Raleigh Extra 6/18/1995 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Raleigh Semi-Weekly Standard 8/10/1861 – 3/8/1868 Historical Newspapers
Raleigh Star 11/3/1808 – 5/12/1831 Historical Newspapers

Also, bookmark this list of North Carolina newspapers that is frequently updated to stay abreast of newly added titles in and around the city of Raleigh, as well as other popular cities in NC.

Handy Quick List: 15 Hartford, Connecticut Newspapers Now Online

GenealogyBank is ever growing – we now have over 15 Hartford, Connecticut newspapers online to help with your ancestry research. That’s a lot of local city papers!

Here is the complete list of Hartford, CT newspapers in our historical archives. The recent CT newspaper expansion includes back issues of the Hartford Daily Courant which is the oldest U.S. newspaper still being published — established in 1764.

City Title Date Range Collection
Hartford Connecticut Courant 10/29/1764 – 12/28/1850 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Hartford Daily Courant 2/3/1840 – 10/25/1914 Historical Newspapers
Hartford American Mercury 7/12/1784 – 6/25/1833 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Connecticut Mirror 7/10/1809 – 12/15/1832 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Times 1/1/1817 – 12/26/1840 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Religious Inquirer 11/10/1821 – 11/7/1835 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Patriot and Eagle 3/7/1835 – 12/30/1837 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Hartford Gazette 1/13/1794 – 3/19/1795 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Times & Weekly Advertiser 1/12/1829 – 12/28/1829 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Hartford Times 2/6/1832 – 8/16/1864 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Connecticut Observer 1/11/1825 – 10/3/1831 Historical Newspapers
Hartford Commercial Record 1/25/2008 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Hartford Hartford News 4/4/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Courant 7/9/1991 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Advocate 11/7/2002 – Current Newspaper Obituaries

The World Was Your Ancestor’s Oyster: Food in Family History

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena explores one of her many interests: the connection of food and cooking to family history, revealing how much oysters were part of our ancestors’ diets.

What did your ancestors eat? Is this something you ever ponder? As family historians, the actual everyday activities of our ancestors can help to bring the dates and places we research to life.

In some cases the food our ancestors ate is quite different from what we are accustomed to today. With the lack of refrigeration and transportation, it’s no surprise that there were regional differences in cuisine. Considering the limited ability to transport and preserve ingredients, the variety of what was available to harvest locally, and the food preferences of local ethnic/immigrant populations, it is not surprising that the food that was served in various areas could be extremely different. A specialty enjoyed by those living in one region of the United States was all but unknown in another. While to some extent this is still true of modern cuisine today, as you can travel to different regions of the United States and taste local favorites not served where you live, these food differences are not as dramatic as they were 100 years ago.

So what were some food commonalities? Well there were many American foods that were feasted upon across the regions. One such food that was enjoyed by almost all Americans in the nineteenth century was oysters. Today oysters, depending on where you live, are usually a delicacy because of the price they command. It would also not be unusual to find people who have never even tried an oyster, raw or cooked.  In the nineteenth century oysters were everyday food items that were inexpensive and plentiful. They were the food of the common person.

Newspaper advertisements hint at the massive amounts of oysters available to our ancestors. Consider this 1874 newspaper advertisement from the Oregonian which lists several places to eat and obtain oysters.

Old Vintage Advertisement for Oysters - Oregonian Newspaper  1874

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 16 October 1874, page 5.

Street vendors, oyster houses, saloons, restaurants and home cooks prepared oysters in various, often creative ways. Oysters were served in every way imaginable including ways we are familiar with today like raw and fried. Interesting ways to serve oysters could be found in the era’s cookbooks including pickled oysters, oyster ketchup and one recipe that called for oysters to be served with shortcake.[i]

Consider this newspaper article which provides 11 ways to cook oysters that “if adhered to will bring cheer to the family board.” Note that this article was printed in a Kentucky newspaper—not exactly known today for its seafood. Yet this historical 1913 article tells “how best to serve the succulent bivalve [oysters], perhaps the most universally popular dish of the American table.”

How To Cook Oysters Old Recipe - Lexington Herald Newspaper 1913

Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 19 October 1913, section 4, page 3.

There were also “mock oyster” recipes for those who were unable to obtain oysters. These oyster recipes substituted different ingredients for oysters including corn, mashed potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant. Women could cook dishes such as “Mock Oyster Soup,” “Mock Oyster Sauce,” “Mock Oyster Stew” and just plain “Mock Oysters.” While the appearance of a “mock” recipe in a cookbook might connote that the item was difficult to obtain or expensive, this was not necessarily so in the case of the oyster.

As oyster beds became contaminated and overfished in the early 1900s, oysters began to cease being eaten as an everyday food and became more of a delicacy. No longer was the oyster part of America’s everyday diet.

To learn more about America’s love affair with oysters see the history The Big Oyster. History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky.


[i] Stavely, Keith W. F., and Kathleen‎ Fitzgerald‎. America’s Founding Food. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2004, pg. 108. Viewed on Google Books 1 July 2012.

Search More than 75 Arkansas Newspapers Online!

GenealogyBank adds new content to its online historical newspaper archives daily. We now have more than 75 online newspapers from Arkansas.

That’s a lot of newspaper articles to help with your family history research in “The Natural State.”

Our Arkansas archives include both old and recent newspaper titles, dating from the 1800s up to today.

Our AR historical newspaper archives cover 1819-1999, providing thousands of birth, marriage and death notices, as well as local news stories, to help with your genealogy research. Explore your ancestry in multiple popular newspaper titles from large cities in Arkansas such as Little Rock, Fayetteville and more.

Our AR recent obituaries titles provide Arkansas death notices from 1998 to today.

Here is the complete list of GenealogyBank’s Arkansas newspapers. Bookmark this list of Arkansas newspapers that is frequently updated to stay abreast of newly added titles.

City Title Date Range Collection
Arkadelphia Daily Siftings Herald 3/15/2001 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Bella Vista Weekly Vista 11/30/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Benton Saline Courier 5/8/2008 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Bentonville Benton County Daily Record 1/1/2001 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Booneville Booneville Democrat 1/25/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Cabot Cabot Star-Herald 3/22/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Camden Camden News 12/2/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Carlisle Carlisle Independent 3/26/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Charleston Charleston Express 1/27/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Clinton Van Buren County Democrat 1/26/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
El Dorado El Dorado News-Times 12/1/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Farmington Washington County Enterprise-Leader 11/4/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Fayetteville Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Northwest Edition 11/18/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Fayetteville NW Arkansas Times 1/2/2001 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Fayetteville NWAOnline: Web Edition Articles 7/28/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Fayetteville Whole Hog Sports 4/14/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Forrest City Homeland 10/1/1991 – 7/1/1999 Historical Newspapers
Fort Chaffee Helping Hand 5/2/1975 – 12/19/1975 Historical Newspapers
Fort Smith Southwest Times Record 3/1/2000 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Gravette Westside Eagle Observer 8/4/2010 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Greenwood Greenwood Democrat 1/26/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Heber Springs Sun Times 10/2/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Helena Western Clarion 4/8/1865 – 12/16/1865 Historical Newspapers
Helena, West Helena Daily World 2/9/2001 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Hope Hope Star 2/9/2001 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Hot Springs Hot Springs Village Voice 1/14/2002 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Hot Springs Sentinel-Record 1/1/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Jacksonville Jacksonville Patriot 4/18/2007 – 12/14/2007 Newspaper Obituaries
Jonesboro Jonesboro Daily News 10/19/1908 – 5/31/1910 Historical Newspapers
Jonesboro Jonesboro Daily Times-Enterprise 9/3/1904 – 10/16/1908 Historical Newspapers
Jonesboro Jonesboro Daily Tribune 1/1/1910 – 12/30/1922 Historical Newspapers
Jonesboro Jonesboro Evening Sun 12/8/1904 – 12/27/1922 Historical Newspapers
Jonesboro Jonesboro Sun 8/25/1999 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Jonesboro Jonesboro Weekly Sun 3/3/1904 – 2/21/1923 Historical Newspapers
Jonesboro Jonesboro Weekly Times-Enterprise 5/18/1905 – 1/16/1908 Historical Newspapers
Jonesboro Jonesboro Weekly Tribune 6/1/1905 – 11/30/1905 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock American Guide 1/27/1900 – 1/27/1900 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 10/30/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Little Rock Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Web Edition Articles 3/30/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Little Rock Arkansas Freeman 10/5/1869 – 10/5/1869 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Arkansas Gazette 8/23/1842 – 11/1/1908 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Arkansas Mansion 6/23/1883 – 4/19/1884 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Arkansas Star 9/7/1839 – 2/1/1841 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Arkansas State Press 5/9/1941 – 10/30/1959 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Arkansas Times 7/7/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Little Rock Arkansas Times: Blogs 4/12/2006 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Little Rock Arkansas Weekly Gazette 11/20/1819 – 5/25/1876 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Arkansas Whig 5/22/1851 – 5/24/1855 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock ARPreps 5/28/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Little Rock Morning Republican 11/25/1867 – 6/3/1874 Historical Newspapers
Little Rock Southern Meditator Journal 6/22/1962 – 2/25/1966 Historical Newspapers
Lonoke Lonoke Democrat 3/21/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Magnolia Banner-News 11/19/2011 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Malvern Malvern Daily Record 8/1/2008 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Maumelle Maumelle Monitor 4/26/2006 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Newport Newport Independent 1/25/2002 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
North Little Rock Times 4/26/2006 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Paragould Paragould Daily Press 7/11/2002 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Paris Paris Express 2/2/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Pea Ridge Times of Northeast Benton County 10/5/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Pine Bluff Pine Bluff Commercial 10/27/1998 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Pine Bluff Pine Bluff Weekly Herald 1/27/1900 – 1/27/1900 Historical Newspapers
Prescott Gurdon Times 10/2/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Prescott Nevada County Picayune 10/2/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Rogers Rogers Morning News 10/26/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Russellville Courier 7/31/2002 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Searcy Daily Citizen 8/26/2003 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Sherwood Sherwood Voice 4/18/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Siloam Springs Siloam Springs Herald-Leader 12/28/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Springdale Springdale Morning News 10/26/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Springdale, Rogers Morning News of Northwest Arkansas 10/11/2004 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Stuttgart Stuttgart Daily Leader 3/15/2001 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Van Buren Alma Journal 6/29/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
Van Buren Arkansas Intelligencer 2/15/1845 – 10/1/1858 Historical Newspapers
Van Buren Press Argus Courier 1/24/2005 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
White Hall White Hall Journal 10/2/2009 – Current Newspaper Obituaries
White Hall White Hall Progress 1/31/2007 – Current Newspaper Obituaries

Treasured Discovery: Only-Known Photos of Ancestors Found in Old Newspapers

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott tells about finding the only-known photos of two of his ancestors in old newspaper wedding announcements—and a surprising engagement notice that told him something he never knew about his own mother!

Summertime! The livin’ is easy and traditionally it is the time for weddings. My bride and I just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary a short time ago and it got me to thinking about how much I have gained in my family history and genealogy work from searching for engagement notices and wedding announcements in GenealogyBank.com.

Mr. & Mrs. Scott Phillips Wedding Photo 1975

The author’s wedding photo from 1975.

As many of us go about developing and nurturing our family trees, I think you’ll agree that one of the best aspects of that work is discovering photographs of our ancestors. Let me tell you, few places that I have found beat newspaper engagement and wedding stories for personal photos—sometimes the only picture anyone in the family has of a particular ancestor. I have had terrific success in my family tree with these types of articles.

A great example was the newspaper article I recently found when researching my Havlic branch. I discovered the wedding announcement for Eleanor Anna Havlic as reported in the Plain Dealer on 30 September 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio. Not only was I thrilled that there was a picture of my ancestor, but it showed some lovely period dress for a 1928 wedding. Additionally, I was treated to the names of parents, spouse, in-laws, addresses of both, the new couple’s home address, bridal party members, wedding date, and the name of their church.

Mrs Louis J Beran Old Marriage Announcement

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 30 September 1928, page 50.

Another nice find for me was the wedding story of another cousin, Margaret Tager, again in the Plain Dealer (27 August 1961) in Cleveland. Once more I was excited to find an old wedding photo that illustrated the current fashion, this time of the early 1960s, plus addresses, parents’ and in-laws’ names, the name of the church where the ceremony was held—and there was even a mention of where both the bride and groom attended college. As an added treat, the newspaper article explained where the couple honeymooned.

Margaret Ann Tager Marriage Announcement

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 27 August 1961, page 108.

In the case of both of the above family members, the old newspaper articles provided me with the only photos I have of these particular ancestors, which make them all the more important to my work, my family, and our family tree.

Oh, and don’t forget that every so often you just might find one of those “ah-ha” moments we all enjoy so much in genealogy. I had one myself not long ago.

After working on one of my grandparent’s branches I was having some fun searching different family surnames to see what I could find. As I was running my grandmother’s married name lo and behold I found an engagement announcement! I clicked on the article to find…my mother had been engaged one time before becoming engaged to, and then marrying, the man who was to become my father. This was a fact that had not been a topic of discussion in my life ever before.

Thank goodness my mom made the choice she did or I wouldn’t be here writing this today!

That was a close call…and a really fun discovery.

Portuguese American Revolutionary War Hero’s Obituary Discovered

You can learn a lot about the Americans who fought in our country’s wars—from the Colonial Indian Wars down to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq—from GenealogyBank’s online newspaper archives.

Revolutionary War Hero Lives to Be a Centenarian

This old obituary gives us many details of the life of John Peters, a Portuguese American who fought in the Revolutionary War and lived to be over 100 years old. It was published in the Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia), 1 May 1832, page 2.

John Peters Obituary - Alexandria Gazette Newspaper

Peters was there from the beginning of the troubles with Great Britain.

He was at the Boston Tea Party on 16 December 1773. He then joined the army.

John Peters Obituary - Boston Tea Party - Alexandria Gazette Newspaper

During the American Revolutionary War he fought in the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Although Peters “lost one of his fingers” in that latter battle, he continued to fight for his new country.

John Peters Obituary - Revolution War Battles - Alexandria Gazette

He was “in the battles of Monmouth and Princeton, and assisted in capturing the Hessians at Trenton.”

The historical obituary of this old Revolutionary war soldier goes on to say “He was engaged in the capturing of Burgoyne and also of Cornwallis; he fought under Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge, where he was again wounded.”

It tells us he was “aged 100 years 5 months and 23 days” when he died on 23 April 1832. That calculates out to give us his birth date:  31 October 1731.

And just where was this centenarian veteran born? The old newspaper obituary tells us that he was born “in Portugal near Lisbon.”

John Peters Obituary - Born in Portugal - Alexandria Gazette Earthquakes That Shook the World in 1755 Remembered

The veteran’s obituary adds the extra detail that he “emigrated [sic] to this country shortly after the earthquake in 1755.”

According to Wikipedia that was the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, “one of the deadliest earthquakes in history” with tens of thousands killed.

There were several powerful earthquakes in 1755. Another one was the Cape Ann earthquake that hit the U.S. 18 days after the Lisbon earthquake, on the northeast coast of Massachusetts.

Young Hannah Clark [Hannah (Clark) Lyman (1743-1842)], then a child of 12, was terrified by the Cape Ann earthquake. Her obituary clearly recorded her terror at living through that earthquake.

Hannah Lyman Obituary - Hampshire Gazette Newspaper

It was published in the Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), 21 March 1832, page 3.

“She remembered distinctly the great earthquake of Nov. 18, 1755…It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrighted children clung to their parents. ‘I cannot help you dear children,’ said the good mother [Martha Phelps Clark, 1717-1803], ‘we must look to God for help.’”

According to Wikipedia this was “the largest earthquake in the history of Massachusetts.” Cape Ann and Boston felt the brunt of the earthquake’s aftermath; however hundreds of homes and buildings throughout the state of Massachusetts were also damaged. Northampton, Massachusetts, is 142 miles from Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

These two powerful earthquakes were so memorable that 77 years later they were mentioned in these 1832 obituaries.

Don’t let the stories of your ancestors’ lives be lost. Use GenealogyBank to find them and document their lives.

102-Year-Old Ex-Slave Once Shook Abraham Lincoln’s Hand

I ran across this interesting obituary in an old newspaper today. It ended with this line: “She once shook hands with Abraham Lincoln.”

In 1912, or even today, it would be impressive to know someone who shook hands with a President—especially one of the stature of Abraham Lincoln.

There were, no doubt, many highlights over the course of Mrs. Catharine Pride’s 102 years. She was born an African American slave in Virginia in 1810, and after the Civil War had lived in Germantown, Pennsylvania, for more than 40 years.

Now—put that in context. She was born an African American slave and she had the opportunity to meet and shake hands with Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed the slaves. It must have been a very powerful moment.

Catherine Pride Obituary - 102 year old slave shook hands with Abraham Lincoln

Reclaim your ancestors’ stories and make sure the family knows the details of your ancestors’ lives, like this obituary of Mrs. Catharine Pride published in the Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 19 January 1912, page 7.

You can discover a wealth of information in our full historical newspaper archives or explore only your African American ancestry in our African American newspapers collection.

Last Revolutionary War Widow Receives Final Pension—in 1906!

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary writes about the last Revolutionary War pension being paid in 1906—131 years after armed conflict began between Great Britain and its American colonies.

It seems hard to believe, but the last Revolutionary War pension was paid in 1906—131 years after the Battles of Lexington and Concord began the American Revolutionary War in 1775. That link to our country’s birth ended with the death of Esther (Sumner) Damon, the widow of Noah Damon and the last widow of the Revolutionary War to receive a pension.

Esther died 106 years ago (in 1906), having married her spouse 6 September 1835 when he was 75, and she, 21.

Death of Widow of Veteran of 1776, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article, 12 November 1906

Obituary for Esther (Sumner) Damon, Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 12 November 1906, page 5

Noah served as a private with the Massachusetts troops, and applied for a war pension 13 November 1848 as a resident of Plainfield, New Hampshire. He died five years later, as shown in this death notice found in a historical newspaper.

Death notice for Noah Damon, New Hampshire Patriot newspaper article, 24 August 1853

Death notice for Noah Damon, New Hampshire Patriot (Concord, New Hampshire), 24 August 1853, page 3

The first pension Act was in 1776, so why didn’t Noah receive a war pension until 1848?

One might assume he wasn’t eligible for the government pension benefits, failing to meet one of the many requirements imposed by the legislature, such as disablement, rank or length of service.

“In CONGRESS August 26, 1776.

…Resolved, That every commissioned officer, who shall lose a limb in any engagement, or be so disabled in the service of the United States of America as to render him incapable, afterwards, of getting a livelihood, shall receive during his life, or the continuance of such disability, the one half of his monthly pay, from and after the time that his pay as an officer, or soldier, ceases; to be paid by the Committee as hereafter mentioned…”

Damon’s pension application stated he might have applied earlier, but had been a resident of Canada and “ignorant of his right.” He wrote that he

 “received a bayonet and wound in his right thigh, from the effect of which he has since suffered much pain and inconvenience the scar of which is very apparent to the present day.”

So how many pension acts were there?

Numerous—with each pension designed to accommodate the needs of soldiers and/or survivors.

Over time, the ranks of the public dole swelled—up to 1878, when Congress passed the final act (which also included the War of 1812).

It was an amazingly generous pension act, allowing a pension for just a minimum 14-day service for honorably discharged veterans, and imposing a short time period for the application process.

You could read about these pension acts for war veterans and their survivors in various historical sources, or you can delve into them yourself in GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives to see how these acts were presented to the public at the time they were enacted.

As an example, here is an old newspaper article describing the important pension act of 1780—the first to address the provision of war pensions to widows and orphans.

newspaper article about the 1780 pension act, Pennsylvania Packet newspaper, 19 September 1780

Article about the 1780 pension act, Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 19 September 1780, page 3

To help you with your Revolutionary War and War of 1812 pension research on your ancestors, here is a list of the dates for each pension act of Congress:

Pension Acts and Amendments

  • August 26, 1776
  • May 15, 1778
  • September 29, 1789
  • March 18, 1818
  • May 15, 1823
  • June 7, 1832
  • August 24, 1780
  • August 26, 1776
  • May 15, 1778
  • August 24, 1780 (first to address pay for widows and orphans)
  • October 21, 1780
  • March 22, 1783
  • September 29, 1789
  • March 23, 1792
  • April 10, 1806
  • March 18, 1818 (first to grant pensions for service only)
  • May 1, 1820
  • March 1, 1823
  • May 15, 1828
  • June 7, 1832
  • July 4, 1836
  • July 7, 1838
  • July 29, 1848 (widow marriage requirement prior to January 2, 1800)
  • March 9, 1878