About Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom Kemp is an internationally known librarian and archivist – he is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history. He previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, DC) and as Library Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He began his career in 1963 as the Assistant to the Librarian, in the Genealogy & Local History Room at the Ferguson Library (Stamford, CT). His motto is: It is a Great Day for Genealogy!

Follow Every Genealogy Clue: It Might Surprise You!

When you have a genealogy record in front of you, track down every clue and see where it takes you.

For example: I found the announcement of my cousin’s wedding in 1767 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

wedding notice for Martin Howard and Abigail Greenleaf, New Hampshire Gazette newspaper article 28 August 1767

New Hampshire Gazette (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), 28 August 1767, page 3

Are there more clues here?
Let’s see where they take us.

The groom is identified as: “the Honorable Martin Howard, Esq; Chief Judge of North-Carolina.”

OK, he was the Chief Judge of North Carolina. Probably I can find more information about him in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives. Let’s see.

Here’s an article.

obituary for Anne Howard, Newport Mercury newspaper article 1 October 1764

Newport Mercury (Newport, Rhode Island), 1 October 1764, page 3

So, prior to his marriage to Miss Abigail Greenleaf in 1767, Martin Howard was married to Anne – who died Wednesday, 26 September 1764.

I’ll add her to my family tree and look for more information on her.

What else can I find about Chief Judge Martin Howard’s life and family?
I also found this article.

article about Martin Howard, New-York Mercury newspaper article 9 September 1765

New-York Mercury (New York, New York), 9 September 1765, page 2

What’s this?
A mob destroying his home?

They were so angry that after they left, they returned and ransacked his home a second time.

The article ends by saying:

The ship Friendship, capt. Lindsey, sailed for England yesterday. Doctor Thomas Maffat, and Martin Howard, jun. Esq; of this town went [as] passengers.

article about Martin Howard, New-York Mercury newspaper article 9 September 1765

New-York Mercury (New York, New York), 9 September 1765, page 2

What was this all about?
We learn more in this next article I found.

article about Martin Howard, Cincinnati Daily Gazette newspaper article 30 July 1869

Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), 30 July 1869, page 3

So – Martin Howard was supporting the hated Stamp Act during Colonial times; his home was ransacked and he was forced to flee to England.

By the next year he was appointed by the King as the new Chief Judge of North Carolina.

The Dictionary of North Carolina Biography quotes him as saying:

I shall have no argument with the Sons of Liberty of Newport; it was they who made me Chief Justice of North Carolina, with a thousand pounds sterling a year.

Digging deeper I found his portrait.

Painting: Judge Martin Howard, by John Singleton Copley, 1767. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Painting: Judge Martin Howard, by John Singleton Copley, 1767. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

This was no small-time judge. He sat for this Copley portrait at the same time he married my cousin Abigail Greenleaf.

Extraordinary.
I was not expecting to find this.

Later, Howard was forced to flee the Colonies permanently, and he lived the rest of his life in obscurity in England.

If I hadn’t found his marriage notice in GenealogyBank he would not have made it into our family tree.

When I searched FamilySearch and Ancestry, he wasn’t recorded on the family tree in either site – so I remedied that and added him to our family tree on both sites.

I love it when the old newspapers in GenealogyBank help me to discover new members of the family. I find more every day.

It’s a great day for genealogy!

Related Genealogy Clues Articles:

Finding Irish Marriage Records

I have been researching my Irish roots for over 50 years.

When I want to search for an Irish marriage record, I go to FamilySearch and to GenealogyBank to get the details.

Painting: “The Wedding Register,” Edmund Blair Leighton, 1920

Painting: “The Wedding Register,” Edmund Blair Leighton, 1920. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

I use FamilySearch because it has the preeminent collection of Irish church and governmental registers, and GenealogyBank because it was common for Irish American newspapers to publish marriages solemnized in Ireland for the benefit and awareness of their newspaper readers here.

Recently, I was looking for the wedding of my cousin Anna Moore to James O’Grady in the mid-1850s – so I searched for information in both databases.

I found the details of their wedding using GenealogyBank, published in the Irish American Weekly.

wedding announcement for Anna Moore and James O’Grady, Irish American Weekly newspaper article 10 March 1850

Irish American Weekly (New York, New York), 10 March 1850, page 2

And here is the record of their marriage I found in FamilySearch.org

screenshot from FamilySearch of the marriage record for Anna Moore and James O’Grady

Source: “Ireland Marriages, 1619-1898” database, FamilySearch: accessed 24 December 2015, James Ogrady and Anna Moore, 05 Feb 1850; citing St George, Dub, Ire, reference 2:3PCGXJQ; FHL microfilm 101,316. There is no register image available online.

See: (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FG6C-TWR

Both sources tell us that they were married at St. George’s Church (Denomination: Church of Ireland) in Dublin, Ireland, on 5 February 1850.

The newspaper account adds that they were married “by Rev. Gibson Black, and afterwards according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church.” Good information to have.

The record in FamilySearch gives the name of the groom’s father (James Ogrady) and both FamilySearch and GenealogyBank give us the name of the bride’s father (James Sinclair Moore) – with GenealogyBank adding the detail: “the late James Sinclair Moore, of Moorebrook, in the county of Armagh.”

The GenealogyBank account also adds that the groom lived at Mountjoy Square in Dublin.

Photo: “The South Side of Mountjoy Square, Dublin, Ireland, in the Snow of January 2010,” Bryan Butler

Photo: “The South Side of Mountjoy Square, Dublin, Ireland, in the Snow of January 2010,” Bryan Butler. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Per Wikipedia, construction of Mountjoy Square was begun in the early 1790s and completed in 1818. With its distinctive Georgian architecture, “the square has been home to many of Dublin’s most prominent people: lawyers, churchmen, politicians, writers and visual artists.”

This is a good clue that the “James O’Grady, Esq.” reference in the Irish American Weekly was a man of means or perhaps a lawyer.

Genealogy Tip: When searching for old Irish marriage records, it is essential that you check both the Ireland Marriages, 1619-1898 on FamilySearch and GenealogyBank’s collection of Irish American Newspapers (1810-2016). You will find important details and clues on one site that you will not find on the other. It’s a great day for genealogy!

Related Articles:

Her Father Was the ‘Rustic Bard’? Newspapers Tell the Story

I was looking at the marriage announcement for my cousins Isaac and Annis (Dinsmoor) Cochran, and was surprised to see the name of her father given as the “Rustic Bard.”

wedding notice for Isaac Cochran and Annis Dinsmoor, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 23 March 1827

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 23 March 1827, page 3

The “Rustic Bard” – I wonder who that was?

So – I dug deeper into GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives and did a search for “Rustic Bard,” and found this poem.

poem referring to the "Rustic Bard," New Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette newspaper article 4 February 1822

New Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette (Concord, New Hampshire), 4 February 1822, page 1

This could be a clue.
The poem speaks of “The Bard of Windham hill” and refers to him as “The rustic Bard.”

Another poem dated 8 November 1828 was also published in the New Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette.

poem by the "Rustic Bard," New Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette newspaper article 24 November 1828

New Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette (Concord, New Hampshire), 24 November 1828, page 1

This poem was untitled and presented as a letter to the editor.
It looks like the poet’s initials were “R. D,” and he was identified as the “Rustic Bard.”

Looking further through the GenealogyBank search results I found this lengthy obituary for the poet R. D. (Robert Dinsmoor).

obituary for Robert Dinsmoor, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 14 April 1836

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 14 April 1836, page 3

Genealogists love to find an obituary like this. It gives a lot of details of his life and talks about his ancestry right back into Scotland.

The obituary says that as a young man, Robert showed promise as a mathematician – but poetry soon became his chief interest.

excerpt from the obituary for Robert Dinsmoor, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 14 April 1836

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 14 April 1836, page 3

Learning that Robert published a book of his poems in 1828, I went to the Internet Archive – the major online repository of digital books – and quickly found “Poems of Robert Dinsmoor, the Rustic Bard.”

photo of the book of poems by Robert Dinsmoor, from Internet Archive

Source: Internet Archive

See: https://archive.org/details/poemsofrobertdin00dins

I love it. Researching in GenealogyBank for my cousin’s marriage record, I was able to find this interesting story about Annis Dinsmoor’s father Robert Dinsmoor, the “Rustic Bard.”

Get the entire story.
Look at the clues in newspaper articles and go wherever they take you to get the complete picture of your ancestors’ lives.

Are You Attending the RootsTech Genealogy Conference?

GenealogyBank is helping to sponsor the RootsTech conference. If you’re attending, come visit us at booth #523 to discuss genealogy in general, or any specific questions you have about your own family history research.

For more information about RootsTech, visit the website at: http://www.rootstech.org/?lang=eng

Related Newspaper Research Articles:

Do You Have Relatives Named after Famous People?

I hear from distant cousins every week. This week I was contacted by a “new” Sawyer family cousin that wrote me to compare notes on our mutual family history.

Photo: Elbridge Gerry and Julia Clifford (Hanson) Sawyer

Photo: Elbridge Gerry and Julia Clifford (Hanson) Sawyer. Source: Kemp family papers.

We quickly realized that yes, we are related and in fact we were both descended from Elbridge Gerry and Julia Clifford (Hanson) Sawyer and – even more – she had a photograph of them, which she copied and sent to me.

Wow – how cool is that!

It got me to thinking of his name: Elbridge Gerry.
He was named for Elbridge Thomas Gerry (1744-1814) – signer of the Declaration of Independence & Articles of Confederation, vice president of the U.S. (serving with James Madison), and later a governor of Massachusetts.

What an impact Elbridge Gerry must have had.
My 2nd-Great-Grandfather, Elbridge Gerry Sawyer (1826-1918) was named for him and so were some of my other relatives:

  • Elbridge Gerry Copp (1860-1934)
  • Elbridge Gerry Fuller (1821-1887)
  • Elbridge Gerry Gage (1860-1925)
  • Elbridge Gerry Kemp (1834-1902)
  • Elbridge Gerry Marden (1864- )
  • Elbridge Gerry Scott (1862- )

At first the name “Elbridge Gerry” didn’t mean anything to me – but as I started to see it repeated again and again with so many of my relatives, on both sides of the family tree, I knew there must be more to the story.

It was easy to understand why plenty of my ancestors were named George Washington…Thomas Jefferson…James Madison…Benjamin Franklin…Andrew Jackson…Ulysses Grant/Ulysses S. Grant…Franklin Pierce…William McKinley and there is even a William Cullen Bryant Kemp (1850-1929).

I wonder how many of my relatives were named for Elbridge Gerry and other people famous in their day but not as well known today?

Do you have an “Elbridge Gerry” in your family?

Do you have other important people in history – though less well-known today – that are remembered as namesakes in your family tree?

Related Name Articles:

Genealogy Research: Newspapers Round Out the Story

I was looking at the 1919 marriage certificate of my cousin George Henry Kemp and his wife Augusta Betty Ehlers.

marriage certificate for George Henry Kemp and Augusta Betty Ehlers

Source: Kemp family papers

From earlier research, I already had the basic genealogical information about them – their birth, marriage and death information.
What more could I learn about them from their marriage certificate?

Looking at the information for George, I saw that he was living at 1581 Mayflower Avenue in the Bronx at the time of their marriage. I wondered if that home is still standing? That would be interesting to know. So, I looked at Google Street View, typing in that address – it brought me right to it.

Photo: 1581 Mayflower Avenue, Bronx, New York

Photo: 1581 Mayflower Avenue, Bronx, New York. Source: Google Street View.

According to Zillow.com that home was built about 1920.
So this was probably their home.

The online List of Enrolled Voters: Borough of the Bronx for 1918 shows that George was enrolled as a Democrat and living at that address. His father John Kemp and step-mother Emily (Mulholland) Kemp are also listed as enrolled voters living at that address – but with no party affiliation designated.

George and August’s marriage certificate says that the wedding was performed in New York by “H. C. Stemp, Clergyman.”
Stemp. You don’t hear that surname very often.

Since he was a minister in New York City, I decided to search for any mention of him in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.
So I searched for H.C. Stemp – and generated zero search results.

That’s odd.
He was a minister – but there were no references to him in the old newspapers?

So – I Googled him.
Looking for: Rv. H.C. Stemp church New York City, I found only one or two references for him there – but one of the Google search results linked him to St. John’s Lutheran Church in New York City.

OK – let’s see if that works.
Hmm.
A few more searches in GenealogyBank’s old newspapers – but still nothing.

There must be something wrong with the spelling of that surname.

So I searched GenealogyBank again using only his initials and the reference to the Lutheran Church in New York.

I limited my search to 1919, the year he performed the wedding of my cousin. Since I was searching on the initials “H. C.” I also limited the search results to just New York and the immediate bordering states Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search box showing a search for the Lutheran Church in New York City

Source: GenealogyBank

That generated a reasonable four search results – including this one.

article about H. C. Steup, Springfield Republican newspaper article 13 September 1919

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 13 September 1919, page 6

Bingo – that’s him – and look at that, his surname is spelled Steup not Stemp. Searching again with the correct spelling, I found this newspaper article about him. It turns out that the Steups were a tribe of pastors.

article about the five members of the Steup family who were ministers, Springfield Daily News newspaper article 2 March 1918

Springfield Daily News (Springfield, Massachusetts), 2 March 1918, page 3

That article included this photo of the Steup ministers.

photo of the five men of the Steup family who were ministers, Springfield Daily News newspaper article 2 March 1918

Springfield Daily News (Springfield, Massachusetts), 2 March 1918, page 3

I then searched the Internet for more information about St. John’s Lutheran Church.

I quickly found these photographs of the church.

Photo: St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York

Photo: St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York. Source: New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
http://www.nycago.org/Organs/NYC/html/StJohnEvLuth.html

Photo: the altar in St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York

Photo: the altar in St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York. Source: New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
http://www.nycago.org/Organs/NYC/html/StJohnEvLuth.html

According to this website:

The Federal-style building with a domed cupola, built in 1821-22 for the Eighth Presbyterian Church, is one of the oldest religious buildings in Greenwich Village. In 1842, the property was sold to St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, who worshiped here until 1858 when it was purchased for $13,000 by the German Lutherans. Victorian features were added in 1886 by Berg & Clark, and the pediment was inscribed, “Deutsche Evangelish-Lutherische St. Johannes Kirche.”

These contemporary photos of the church, showing the altar area, are likely very similar to the way the church would have looked in 1919 when their wedding was performed.

A German Lutheran Church. That makes sense – Augusta’s family had lived in the Bronx but moved to Stamford, Connecticut, in 1890 when her father bought a butcher shop on the corner of East Main Street and Maple Avenue there.

article about Gustav Ehlers, Stamford Advocate newspaper article 19 September 1890

Stamford Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), 19 September 1890, page 1

Looking at Google Street View, I found the building.

Photo: the corner of East Main Street and Maple Avenue, Stamford, Connecticut

Photo: the corner of East Main Street and Maple Avenue, Stamford, Connecticut. Source: Google Street View.

Their home and butcher shop was right next door to George’s uncle, William Kemp!

I also found this article, showing that George’s father John Kemp, “a New York [City] policeman” was “having a fine dwelling house erected on the corner of Main street and Myrtle avenue.” That is just to the right of the red “Service and Parts” awning pictured above.

article about John Kemp, Stamford Advocate newspaper article 4 December 1885

Stamford Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), 4 December 1885, page 2

This week when I started this research, I already had George and Augusta’s wedding certificate and their basic genealogical facts.

Armed with the insights from GenealogyBank’s newspapers and the Internet, I really got the rest of their story.

He lived at home with his parents in the Bronx and she lived with her family above their butcher shop in Stamford, Connecticut. By identifying the correct spelling of the minister’s name, I was able to find the church where they were married – and that is likely the church her family attended when they lived in New York City before they moved to Stamford.

With these essential online tools and a little elbow grease you can build your family history from home. It’s amazing what you can find in newspapers.

It’s a Great Day for Genealogy!

Are you attending the RootsTech Genealogy Conference?

GenealogyBank is helping to sponsor the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, 3-6 February, 2016. If you’re attending, come visit us at booth #523 to discuss genealogy in general, or any specific questions you have about your own family history research.

For more information about RootsTech, visit the website at: http://www.rootstech.org/?lang=eng

Related Articles:

You Know When They Married – Newspapers Give the Details of What Happened

I was searching for the marriage certificate for the wedding of Bessie M. Bryant and Henry L. Fitch – 23 November 1912, St. Albans, Vermont.

screenshot of a FamilySearch web page showing information for the wedding of Bessie M. Bryant and Henry L. Fitch

Source: FamilySearch

I went to FamilySearch and found confirmation of their marriage. That site does not have a copy of the actual wedding certificate – but does have a copy of the index card outlining the facts of the marriage. It gives me the essential who, what, when, where and how.

Could I find out more about their wedding – and about them?

Turning to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I quickly found their wedding announcement and it brings these facts to life.

It was as if I were attending the wedding.

article about the wedding of Bessie M. Bryant and Henry L. Fitch, Saint Albans Daily Messenger newspaper article 25 November 1912

Saint Albans Daily Messenger (Saint Albans, Vermont), 25 November 1912, page 7

This newspaper article gives me more of the facts:

  • The middle names of the bride and groom
  • That the wedding took place at her father’s home on Congress Street
  • The wedding was at 8:30 p.m., in the parlor
  • About 35 guests attended – many of them are named along with the cities that they were from
  • The couple was going to live in Springfield, Massachusetts
  • The details of the wedding ceremony, how everyone was dressed, and the reception
  • The best man, maid of honor and others were named
  • The minister was named along with the name of his church

The article also provides these details:

…the bride and groom standing in the archway composed of asparagus ferns and white chrysanthemums.

The bride…was gowned in white chiffon with silver bead trimming, and made over white satin; she wore a veil, fastened with orange blossoms and jasmine, and carried a bouquet of bride roses and lilies-of-the-valley. Her ornament was a string of gold beads, the gift of the groom.

The details of the wedding go on and on in this article.

And so do the newspaper articles about them.

The bride Bessie was mentioned in dozens more newspaper articles that told of her activities or those of her family.

Only newspapers give these details. GenealogyBank is an essential tool in our search to document the lives of our ancestors.

Are you attending the RootsTech Genealogy Conference?

GenealogyBank is helping to sponsor the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, 3-6 February, 2016. If you’re attending, come visit us at booth #523 to discuss genealogy in general, or any specific questions you have about your own family history research.

For more information about RootsTech, visit the website at: http://www.rootstech.org/?lang=eng

Related Marriage Record Articles:

Follow-Up Story: Good News about the Italian State Archives L’Aquila

In 2009 I wrote about the destruction of the Archivio di Stato (State Archive) L’Aquila, Italy, building that was destroyed by an earthquake on 6 April 2009.

The earthquake itself destroyed some records, and it also exposed the entire collection – centuries of records – to further destruction from the weather.

Photo: the Italian State Archives L’Aquila damaged by an earthquake in 2009

Source: Archivio di Stato dell’Aquila

The archivists there and around the world immediately looked for – and found – solutions. The archivists signed an agreement two years later, on 30 June 2011, with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to digitize and begin putting these records online.

I contacted FamilySearch to see how that is progressing and was informed that:

“Civil registration (stato civile) of births, marriages, and deaths within the custody of the State Archive of L’Aquila (Archivio di Stato di L’Aquila) [which] also includes ten-year indexes (indici decennali); residency records (cittadinanze); marriage banns (notificazioni o pubblicazioni); supplemental records (allegati); marriage supplements (processetti); miscellaneous records (atti diversi), etc.” are being put online.

FamilSearch also reported:

“Records included in this collection coincide with the modern-day provinces of L’Aquila and Rieti.”

These records can be searched on the FamilySearch site here: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1937372

Digital copies of these records can be searched and viewed on the Italian National Archives (DGA) Portale degli antenati website here: http://www.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/

If You Don’t Put It Online – Your Descendants Will Not Find It!

With the New Year now started, here’s a genealogy resolution you can keep in 2016: preserve your family history records online so that future generations can find them. Take your records – prepare now to begin scanning them and putting them online.

photo of a letter from Maxine Lacy

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

Bottom line: “If You Don’t Put It Online – Your Descendants Will Not Find It!”

photo of a letter from Maxine Lacy

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

It is that simple.

That is the central message of the online lecture that I gave Friday, November 13th.

Click here to listen to my webinar Bringing It All Together and Leaving a Permanent Record.

Whether you’ve been researching your family history for 5 years – 15 years – or perhaps even 50 years – your search skills have improved year after year.

Now is the time to thoroughly review your research conclusions. You want to review and evaluate each person in your family tree. Reconfirm the dates/places of their vital events and upload their photos, stories and documents. Make sure that each person’s record is accurate and that all of your notes are attached.

Put that information online. Now.

Review and rebuild your tree – putting it on multiple websites so that you have double or triple the online backup, widely distributing your information so that your non-genealogist family members can easily find what you spent years discovering.

Put your stories and family photos on multiple websites like:

Facebook

screenshot of a Facebook page showing a recipe for chocolate cake

Source: Facebook

Pinterest

screenshot of a Pinterest board showing a recipe for chocolate cake

Source: Pinterest

FamilySearch

screenshot of a FamilySearch page showing a recipe for chocolate cake

Source: FamilySearch

Listen to the webinar to learn how to review and prepare your data so that you can leave it – permanently – on multiple websites. For the upcoming New Year, resolve to make sure your data is available for your family into the rising generation.

Related Articles:

 

Finding Bion Whitehouse: How Initials Can Help Your Ancestry Search

I have been looking at my Whitehouse cousins of Keene, New Hampshire, this week and was wrapping up the details of Bion Huntley Whitehouse (1858-1929) and his wife Mabel Medora (Wilder) Whitehouse (1871-1938).

In looking at GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I searched using his first and last name: Bion Whitehouse. I found a handful of newspaper articles, including this one that stated he was elected secretary of the Masonic lodge: Eureka Lodge No. 9, Order of the Golden Lion in 1891.

article about the Masonic lodge, Eureka Lodge No. 9, Order of the Golden Lion, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 4 February 1891

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 4 February 1891, page 4

Another article reported that he “is taking a ten days’ trip about Sunapee Lake.”

article about Bion Whitehouse, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 5 August 1891

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 5 August 1891, page 4

And this one stated that he “has bought the Amos Ross place near Wilson pond, West Keene.”

article about Bion Whitehouse, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 18 December 1889

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 18 December 1889, page 4

On a hunch, I searched for Bion again in GenealogyBank – but this time I searched using his initials with his last name instead of using his first name.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search box showing a search for B. H. Whitehouse

Source: GenealogyBank.com

I am glad that I did.

By searching on this variation of his name I found the obituary of his first wife – information that I didn’t have.

obituary for Lena Whitehouse, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 9 April 1890

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 9 April 1890, page 8

Genealogy Tip: Be sure you discover all of the articles about your relatives. An extra search, such as using only their initials, can sometimes yield critical information for documenting your family tree.

Related Name Search Articles:

Typical Genealogy Research Problem: Here’s What You Want to Do

Here is my task: find documentation for the marriage of Benjamin Walter Tribble and Lilian Blanche Mathias, who were married on 30 December 1906 in Irmo, South Carolina.

OK. That should be easy.

Step One

I’ll go to FamilySearch.org and look for their marriage certificate.
With billions of records online, this should be quick.

FamilySearch has an online database: South Carolina Marriages 1709-1913.
See: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1675541

A close look at this collection shows that so far it has only 4,154 South Carolina marriage records online. Clearly this is a work in process – there must have been hundreds of thousands if not more than a million marriages in South Carolina during those 200+ years.

Let’s search this database and see if their marriage certificate is online.
No. Not there.
I can keep checking back and see when it is uploaded to their site.

Step Two

Digging deeper into FamilySearch’s certificates, I next looked to see if they had records for Irmo, South Carolina.

Irmo is located in both Lexington and Richland Counties in South Carolina.

Let’s look in the FamilySearch online catalog and see if they have microfilm or published marriage records for these counties.

Search the FamilySearch Catalog here: https://familysearch.org/catalog/search

Looking at the records for Lexington County – great – they have marriage licenses and indexes for that county – but only for 1911-1950 and 1911-1958 respectively.

Benjamin and Lilian’s marriage was in 1906 – so I won’t find it there.

Turning to Richland County, South Carolina, I find that FamilySearch has their marriage licenses from 1911-1922 online – but again, no coverage for 1906.

Step Three

Let’s see if there is a record of their marriage in GenealogyBank.com, searching through the South Carolina Newspaper Archives.

screenshot of GenealogyBank showing the South Carolina Newspaper Archives search page

Source: GenealogyBank.com

OK good.
GenealogyBank has newspaper coverage for South Carolina from 1735 to 1996.

But – I see only seven South Carolina cities are listed and Irmois not one of them.

So – is my search over?
No – wait – there’s more.

Important Genealogy Tip: Marriages, obituaries, etc., were routinely reported by newspapers from around the state. You want to search all the newspapers in your target state and not limit your search to only your ancestors’ local newspapers.

A quick search across all South Carolina newspapers for their wedding announcement quickly pulls up a record about them.

screenshot of GenealogyBank showing a search for the Tribble family

Source: GenealogyBank.com

I found their marriage notice.

marriage announcement for Benjamin Walter Tribble and Lilian Blanche Mathias, State newspaper article 31 December 1906

State (Columbia, South Carolina), 31 December 1906, page 2

This newspaper article from a Columbia, South Carolina, newspaper provides a long description of their wedding.

Where else would we learn details such as this:

The church was darkened and decorated in white and green. Just in front of the pulpit a double arch of evergreens had been erected and from the intersection hung a large white wedding bell. The arch was studded with lighted tapers.

Wow – a candlelight wedding. That is an image I won’t soon forget.

Bottom Line: Take a balanced approach in your family history research. In searching for marriage records I always look in FamilySearch and GenealogyBank. I want a copy of the original marriage certificate that FamilySearch provides – AND – a firsthand account of the wedding itself that can only be found in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

Find and document your family history – gathering the old marriage certificates and also the newspaper articles about their candlelight weddings beneath a canopy of evergreens.

Related Marriage Record Articles: